My Guilty Pleasure

If I had to name just one of my many guilty pleasures, I think the worst one is definitely watching Youtube into the early morning hours. I think it’s important to first define the term guilty pleasure. A guilty pleasure is an activity you do or a hobby you have and really enjoy despite it generally being considered of low quality, a waste of time or even deplorable by most people. The fact that your hobby is generally frowned upon fills you with shame or even guilt. Your guilty pleasure is often a secret kept at all costs, because the risk of being exposed is generally too great.

“Surely there is enough time in the day to consume that garbage?” “Can’t it wait until morning?” You might ask. No, it cannot wait, and there is not a more appropriate time. I can’t say for sure when the habit of skipping sleep in favor of watching low quality content on YouTube until the sun comes up became the norm for me. I remember in the younger days of the Internet I’d wait several hours at a time to watch videos 3 to 5 minutes in length, the thrill of watching something on my computer’s monitor virtually instantly without the need to put a CD or DVD into the drive was something that could never be done before then.

I remember the day clearly: it was a night like any other in 2005 or maybe 2006. YouTube was in its infancy, and a friend of mine suggested a video for me to watch on this new platform. No longer did I need to wait hours of downloading to watch a single video, I could click on the link and be watching the video just 10 minutes later, it really did seem like magic to me at the time. Of course in these early years I felt no shame, no guilt.

I have always had a habit of staying awake longer than I probably should. Before the Internet I would stay awake long past my bedtime watching TV or playing video games, tip toeing back and forth to the kitchen to grab a snack, running at times to stop the microwave just before it would have beeped, worried the sound would wake my mother. Why can’t the sound on microwaves be turned off? Why do microwaves continue to beep until you open the door? Do microwave manufacturers really believe that we might forget that we were about to eat? What’s the danger anyway? The food may get cold; there is no harm in that.

Ten years or so have passed and YouTube and the Internet have changed in a big way, now I can actually watch videos instantly and there are billions of them to be watched. I never intend to spend a night watching videos on the Internet but I fall head first down the rabbit hole and there is really no turning back at that point until the sun comes up. I start the night innocently enough with a search, “how to cook green curry” for example and I snap myself out of the trance six hours later after watching a documentary about snapping turtles made by an eight year old.

Why does watching YouTube all night bring me shame and guilt? As an adult there always seems to be something else that I should be doing at the moment, regardless of whether I’m actually doing something constructive or not. Watching people slip on ice at two o’clock in the morning while eating a cookie is absolutely without any doubt a waste of time. “If you’re not going to sleep you could at least clean your room, study, watch anything else” I always think to myself.

Ultimately, as deplorable as our guilty pleasures may be, they do bring us joy, so in my eyes that makes them worthwhile.



deplorable (adj.) - completely unacceptable; shockingly bad in quality
norm (n) - something usual, typical, standard
tip toe (v) ? to walk very quietly or carefully (using only your toes and not your whole foot)
go down the rabbit hole (idiom) - enter a situation that is strange, problematic or complex
trance (n) - a half-conscious state; a state of abstraction; a daze