Videos. They’re Making Us Stupid.

By March 28, 2018Insights

So… why the big fuss?

Additional to the appeal discussed in the last article, in summary, we prefer videos because of their aesthetics and their unique content. As technology has developed, so has our fascination with the changing medium.

The aesthetics of that are present in videos have developed dramatically through technological advances. From black and white cinema spectacles, to the introduction of CGI in Jurassic Park (1993), and the introduction of stereoscopy in James Cameron’s Avatar in 2009. These films reengaged audiences through the visual marvel that these new technologies produced. With each film producing new and unique content, we are eager to watch new releases. Will it be good? Is it a flop? Will I rave about it to my friends? We can only tell if we give in to curiosity.

While our attention spans have been dwindling, content producers have adapted to appeal to our shrinking attention spans. The shrinking of video advertising to thirty and even fifteen second slots as we hesitate before a two-minute video. The rise of twenty-minute episodes. The development of television episodes to fifty minute ‘movie spectacles’, because we struggle to sit through a two hour feature film.

Similarly, the prominent use of stereotypes in video allow us to instantly understand who characters are, without sitting through a lengthy origin story. Through cues given by their clothing, attitude, and appearance, we pre-empt their role in the narrative. The boy wearing the letter jacket? Jock. The best friend of the main character? The Comedic Relief. The kid with the glasses and the tucked in shirt? The Nerd. The unique equation of setting, characters, and a slightly different than conventional plot is what keeps us hooked on each new film.

The development of visual story telling allows us to reengage over and over again as we consume content through differing media channels. We can note this to include many social channels like Facebook and Instagram. While a number of people may be at the same event, we are intrigued by their unique perspective on the event through our celebrity obsessions. What happened? What did they think of it?  No two people are going to have the exact same experience, so it’s unlikely that they’ll produce the same content. As a result, their unique content on social media provides a particular spin and perspective on the event that the viewer would not have otherwise had.

We find comfort in experiencing these events through another’s story of the event. This is a similar experience that we get through watching films, called catharsis.  Catharsis is the experience of escaping into films that offer us an emotional release. In viewing these films about messed up marriages, wars, and apocalypses, we are greeted with a comfort that our world is not as chaotic as the one presented to us in the film. We also choose to live vicariously through these films, and videos. We explore and consider dangerous situations from the safety of the couch. Because watching someone else fighting zombies and struggling to survive is a lot more fun than doing it ourselves.

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