Monday, July 17, 2023

Absurdly Long YouTube Videos That Play Nothing on Purpose

David Pierce:

In this case, it turns out, the outrageous length is the whole appeal. Across all these videos and many other silent blank ones, every viewer seems to have their own use case. The most common, by far, is to use these videos as a way to simply keep your device on. “I keep this playing overnight so that my laptop doesn’t shutdown while downloading games,” one commenter wrote. “I have to keep this open on my phone because it’s broken and will not turn back on if it turns off,” another said.

There are also a surprisingly large number of times when you might want your device on but the screen off. “I use this so I can have music open on another tab at night and have this open so the screen with the music on it wont shine so bright in my room,” one commenter wrote on a two-day-long video of a blank black screen.


But you know what’s actually easier than tweaking a bunch of settings, especially for younger users accustomed to finding everything they need on YouTube? Just playing a video. One commenter on a blank-screen video called it “the perfect video to cast to your tv when you’re too tired to get up and turn it off,” which seems both ridiculous — if you can cast from your phone to your TV, you can probably use your phone to turn off your TV! — and telling.

Update (2023-07-31): Matthew Panzarino:

There’s apparently an iOS 16.x bug that deletes screen time limits on apps if your kid hits the ‘one more minute’ button. Classic. Ruining my life currently.

Jonathan LaCour:

So much this.

My kids have also figured out that they can visit YouTube in Safari, pick a super long video, enter Picture in Picture, and it completely bypasses all screen time limits.

I reported it to Apple two years ago. They acknowledged it. Still no fix.


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Ben Kennedy

John Cage checking in.

Lots of commentary about kids these days. Why turn off the TV when you can instead waste hours of power and network bandwidth streaming nothing into it.


This is a joke, right? People don't know how to turn off their monitors?

Kids are smarter than adults give them credit for in almost every way, but growing up with locked-in tech that “just works” has left them with a shocking lack of intuition toward solving any tech-related problem that goes even one settings level deep. I see it as well in the generation that precedes them. Smart in myriad ways but hopeless with this kind of problem solving. Hard road ahead for both.

Did we teach them with the systems we make they should not adventure and experiment with settings? I assume people start from a clean slate and actively choose to use computers this way.

I get it. Fiddling through system settings is annoying, especially when you have a use case where you need to do it over and over. Or like in the article, sometimes you need it to look like your computer is still active for other reasons. This is clever, not lazy.

I used to jailbreak my iPhone, at least back when that was still reasonable and possible, and pretty much the *only* reason I did it was so that I could add a button to the control center to turn automatic sleep on and off. That one single button was a huge quality of life improvement, because it meant I didn't have to go through three or four layers of menus to reach the setting I wanted.

For some people, it's a whole lot easier to just play a long YouTube video. Hell, you could drop a link to it on your home screen. Presto, phone stays on with a single tap. Way nicer than digging through the shitty settings app.

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