Simi Olurin ’19

The amount of tutorials I have watched on YouTube is simply ridiculous. In fact, in some lights, it’s extremely embarrassing, for one would look at my video history and assume that I’m essentially inept when it comes to everyday actions. When I merely say tutorials, you may not fully grasp the unmitigated control that theses 5-10 minute instructional videos have over me. The popular perception of a tutorial with our generation is that it’s simply for makeup, but trust me, these are not the ones that I frequent; my drugstore mascara and lackluster fine motor skills would testify to this fact. Make-up is– in many people’s eyes–an art form, and even if I were to spend my free time watching makeup videos, it wouldn’t help the girl who once got a B in her eighth grade art class.

For a student, the internet is a dangerous place, if you have any intense studying to do, it’s basically a vast wasteland, a black hole with no regard for you or your GPA. YouTube is the kingpin of the internet procrastination agents (although BuzzFeed is looking to dethrone the video streaming heavyweight). With so many videos on YouTube, it’s easy to wind up entrenched in the world’s greatest distraction, but the crushing guilt of watching a funny turtle video when I’m supposed to be studying for a Spanish test is too much for me to take. How could I waste my time with such frivolous nonsense when I’m supposed to be focusing on my education. Focusing on my advancement. Focusing on learning.

That, my friends, is why I watch tutorials when I procrastinate!

I learn something new every time I watch one! From learning how to set up Microsoft Office on my computer to learning how to properly calm a giraffe that has bitten its tongue, it’s entirely guilt-free because I’m not wasting my time necessarily; I’m simply redirecting it towards something equally useful, so I find myself completely liberated from any semblance of guilt.

However, the sheer amount of tutorials on YouTube scares me to my core. Sure, they’re useful, like how to get gum out of your hair or remove Sharpie from a desk, but their usefulness is a double-edged sword.

The existence of so many instructional videos creates a dangerous safety net for our generation, and generations to follow. The abundance of tutorials that cover actions performed every day is dangerous, for it makes people assume that they never truly have to learn how to do anything on their own. Our generation is being hand held through life itself, and soon, our hands will be shackled to these videos or anything else that provides us with a sense of security, anything that shields us from the harsh reality that we have to learn how to survive our everyday lives on our own. How many actions can these “YouTubers” actually walk us through? Can these “internet famous” Millennials actually advise us on how to perform daily tasks? If you step back and think about the act of watching a tutorial, we’re essentially watching someone else live their life. The idea of constant observation does not phase us as it should; it’s difficult to imagine life today without reality TV or frequent Snapchat stories documenting the events of everyone’s life. Tutorials, however, are different, for not only are we watching others live their lives, but we’re learning from watching them do so and putting our trust in it. Each click, each view, only sharpens both sides of the double-edged sword.
I stand as one of millions in our generation that loves tutorials, but I warn everyone to be cautious. As it exists today, we have given the institution of instructional videos far too much power. So today, I vow to learn how to do something new, and I’ll learn it all by myself.