How Aliens Might See Humans: Internet Videos

There’s a significant yet insignificant weight given to video clips in the ultra-sharing age, which is weird, but undeniably true when you think about it. People spend hours upon hours on the internet looking at cat videos, and many other adorable, yet inane activities caught on camera.

If an alien came to earth and saw everyone watching videos on the internet, he or she (if aliens had genders) would conclude that cat videos, or stock video clips in general are a significant part of human social interaction. To a certain degree that would be correct, the video maker is communicating to an audience, but that’s not human interaction.

Many people will agree that even without access to the hours upon hours of cat videos they’ll be able to go on with their lives without consequence. So why the dichotomy? Why do people (you included) spend so much time watching videos online when you could be doing something else?

The answer is cat videos are cute and funny. The other answer is that video clips offer people a source of entertainment that’s designed to sap as many hours out of the day as possible. Movies and television shows run from 30 to 120 minutes, that’s a lot of time and can be physically taxing to pay attention to.

Video clips on the other hand, last only a handful of minutes, and can even be enjoyed in a few seconds. Motion Elements says, the short time allows people to keep watching video clips one after another without experiencing fatigue, or notice time.

In a movie, people can measure how much time they’ve spent watching by the length of the experience. But with video clips, the experience resets with every new video, and any sense of time disappears. Entertainment is a strange thing most of the time and people keep finding new wrinkles to add to the formula. It’s going to be strange to see what else people do from now on that aliens will misinterpret as important.