“Watch Later” – Where Good Intentions Go To Die

File “Watch Later” in the same place as all of the books you bought and intend to read, and all the unplayed games in your Steam library, all of those Magic decks you’ve been meaning to build, and all of your unpainted miniatures yes I’m calling you out. I’m calling you all out! And I don’t get off lightly in this lecture, I have more books than I have bookshelves, and a terrible habit of not reading anything that isn’t a role-play accessory of some kind, I’m a terrible person.

At this moment my personal Watch Later playlist on YouTube is sixty-four videos, including (but not limited to) thirteen tabletop role-playing sessions, ten short films, nine video essays, some music videos and a TEDx talk, and some of them were added years ago.

Some of them stem from viewing phases I went through, like my fascination with short-form science fiction, a month spent working with only ambient noise videos, or a fascination with old forgotten cartoons. Some of them were added during spates of research for articles, like a random review of the Discworld PC game, or a video comparing sci-fi plagues. A shocking number are series or channels I started watching and enjoyed enough to want more, but not enough to subscribe, with apologies to Runehammer and Oats Studios.

An overwhelming majority have a runtime exceeding twenty minutes, and despite the fact that I will quite contentedly lose hours of time to YouTube, I find it too easy to dismiss those videos that require a greater time investment on my part into the Watch Later pile. Critical Role, MCDMs the Chain, and Horrorbabble I am content to sit and watch for hours on end, and yet a thirty minute study of the Fourth Era of Tamriel can apparently wait until tomorrow… or three weeks from now when I scroll back through and say “oh yeah, why not?”

A handful are from channels to which I am subscribed, and I’ve tacked the video onto the Watch Later list just to stop it from getting lost in wave after wave of updates, because no matter how long my Watch Later list gets it’s still not as long as my list of watched channels, many of which update weekly, daily, or in a handful of cases, even more.

And now, even my Netflix account cannot escape unscathed, and while list building in Netflix ultimately leads to better, broader, and more compelling recommendations from the site, but that doesn’t stop the pile of unwatched films and series from growing ever larger, and those things that piqued my curiosity find themselves in ever growing company with proportionately few of them ever being watched.

What is this habit of ours to amass more than we can ever consume… in a media sense. That risks getting political.

Tsundoku, bibliomania, the gathering of literature beyond ones means to ever read them all, is a well documented phenomenon predating the media boom that bridged the turning of the millennium, and I’d feel safe in saying that they stem from the same place psychologically. It’s an aspiration to consume more, to know more, and even now while I take a few videos off my guilt-inducing playlist, I’m still adding more! And maybe we are overestimating ourselves as we collect more and more, but there’s nothing wrong with hoping that we can do more with our time.

But you still have to paint your minis before you buy new ones.

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