Today I read a new article that illustrated quite perfectly the consumptive, procrastinating nature of the modern human condition. In the month of February, Americans watched over 10 billion online videos.
Yes. 10 billion.
The article, which was featured on Cnet, broke that number down even further. Roughly 35% of that 10 billion were videos streaming from YouTube and other Google-related sites. That amounts to about 3.6 billion videos. The rest were broken down between MyspaceTV, Yahoo, Microsoft, etc etc. But YouTube videos alone amassed 3.4 billion. For the average American viewer, that's about 74 videos each. In February. That's the shortest month of the year.
I'm going to do some further breaking down of my own. If we take those numbers and just extrapolate them out for the other months, that would mean that Americans watch over 120 BILLION online videos a year. And that doesn't even count the porn! There are about 320 million Americans in this country. If we assume that 60% of them have high-speed internet (I'm too lazy to do the rest of the research, so I'm being conservative), that's 192 million Americans playing around online, just in general. Let's just say about 60% of those people watch streaming video on a regular basis. That's 115 million people watching 10 BILLION videos in 29 days (remember, it was a leap year)!
Personally, I found these figures to be astounding. And it's not as if people are watching full-length movies or television shows. Figures have shown that most people still watch TV and movies on their television sets. The average video length is less than three minutes long. So what are people watching? Well, I don't have to look far. Take a look at my own Myspace page (there are three or four YouTube videos posted on on there), my comments section, your bulletin board, blogs, your e-mail inbox, etc. We've absolutely inundated our lives with streaming media. And that's not even all we do online. We read news. We write stuff. We chat. We buy things. We run businesses. The YouTube thing is just a single commodity, and we use the living shit out of it!
Think about the energy being used. Not just mental energy. Think about the energy it takes for each of us to run our computers, the servers that upload, store, and stream these videos upwards of 10 billion times per month. It's something that most people probably never even think about, but when you see numbers like that, how can anyone not be even a little bit floored?
I've made this observation before, but I never ceased to be amazed at the vast amounts of sheer STUFF human beings consume in this world. When I worked at Target, I was exposed not only to the mentality of the entitled, but the material evidence of it in just one single store out of a single 2000-store chain. That's not even thinking about Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Lowes, Macy's, Sears, Amazon.com, major grocery chains, and motherfucking McDonald's. And that's just in America, folks! Our world has been saturated not only with needless things to buy, to eat, to drink, and new tourist traps to which to fly and drive. We've also zapped our brains with "free" things to entertain ourselves. There is just this surging mass of stimulation available at the tips of our fingers, and yet people still complain about boredom, of mundanity, of unfulfillment. Or people remain in denial that we, as individuals, have an effect on the world around us.
I look at this cluttered, crowded, noisy, often-smelly world of ours, and I wonder how it's possible our brains haven't yet exploded. I wonder how there is even still a world. It's either an opportunity for us to give thanks for our resilient, plentiful, patient earth, or to just feel incredibly lucky that we might even have another century left.
But don't take it from me. Take it from Boxing Kitty. Isn't it just adorable??: