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2024#01 Short video, I hate you, give my attention back to me

Once upon a time, I used to scoff at short video platforms like TikTok and Kwai, because at that time these platforms were filled with toothy internet celebrities, tasteless clichés, and low-quality pop song remixes. So when someone recommended TikTok to me or asked me in surprise, "You don't use TikTok?!" I would firmly reply: No, and secretly look down on it, showing no interest in these tacky and trendy contents. But back then, it wasn't because I realized that short videos would disrupt my focus and avoided them, but simply because the content on short video platforms didn't match my interests.

It wasn't until I clicked on the short videos on Bilibili and Xiaohongshu.

With the blessing of recommendation algorithms, Bilibili recommended content that I was interested in one after another, from Arsenal's passing highlights to Lana Del Rey's magazine interviews, from international affairs to cute cats and dogs. My eyes and brain tirelessly browsed through one short video after another, completely ignoring the tasks I should have been focusing on.

Apart from the basic drawback of wasting time, I also found that I was gradually losing patience for reading long texts, often having to read a sentence two or three times to regain my focus while reading books. Not to mention long periods of work and study. Moreover, many short videos have very low information density, and many times when I stopped after watching a dozen videos and tried to recall, I realized that I couldn't remember what I had just watched. I think this is the electronic opium of our era.

So, in order to regain my focus and attention, I uninstalled all content creation platforms based on recommendation algorithms and chose to use an RSS reading service built with Miniflux to ensure daily information retrieval. I forced myself to read long texts and physical books. From the current results, it seems to be working, my focus is slowly recovering, at least when watching slightly longer videos, I don't have to speed them up all the time, and my anxious mindset is slowly turning into calmness.

People used to say that games would poison the future of young people, but in my opinion, perhaps it's time to switch to short videos. Games can at least broaden the boundaries of imagination, but short videos will only make us sink deeper into the cocoon of self-constructed information and steal our time.

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