YouTube Shorts counters its purpose by being frustrating rather than relaxing

YouTube shorts are recommended on the homepage of YouTube as well as having their own tab.

The Verge

YouTube shorts are recommended on the homepage of YouTube as well as having their own tab.

From awkward tweens lip-syncing on musical.ly to the Hype House celebrities of TikTok to the most intelligent dogs of Instagram Reels, brief, 15-second to 1-minute videos are not strangers to the internet. Although this concept has been adopted by more and more forms of social media over the years, it only got a hold on YouTube in July of 2021, which is a year after Instagram’s Reels were introduced.

I’m not going to lie; I have an addiction to these quick and easy clips. You can watch one any time, and they don’t take up too much time of the day. At least, they’re not supposed to. Instagram is the app on my phone with the largest clocked screen time, and I can easily attribute this to the reels I watch for hours upon hours, only taking a break when sending them to my friends.

So, it would be the assumption that I would get hooked on YouTube Shorts as well, right?

Initially, this was not the case. I didn’t pay much mind to them as YouTube was where I went to seek out my favorite creators’ long and thought-out content, not just a quick browse. Instagram and TikTok were what I was used to anyway, and Instagram was the easiest app to send and receive reels. So, I didn’t invest myself in YouTube Shorts until mid-2022.

This was among the greatest social media mistakes that I have ever made.

YouTube Shorts is nothing short of a cesspool of hate speech, weird content, and a terrible algorithm. Not once have I seen a Short from one of my favorite creators on YouTube’s main platform, so it’s pretty clear that YouTube Shorts has a completely separate algorithm from the normal videos. 

I imagined that this would give me the chance to explore new genres, and quite honestly, it certainly did. Unfortunately, these perspectives were ones that I purposely avoid on all other social media and outside of the technological world.

Unfortunately, these perspectives were ones that I purposely avoid on all other social media and outside of the technological world.”

I am pretty politically geared, so it was interesting to see political creators speaking up about what they believe in. Things went further and further, though. I got and still get a truckload of shorts about sexual assault awareness. This is important to be vocal about, but it is quite odd to repeatedly see this on my page when I haven’t interacted with any videos of this type. About one in three shorts I see are of this nature.

The other kind of unsettling clips I see is far, far worse than the latter. I am getting an influx of hateful 30-second videos that oftentimes ruin my entire day. I always dislike the video and select “don’t recommend this channel,” but time and time again, these videos pop up. 

The most infuriating part is that every time I leave an angry comment on a bigoted video, YouTube sees that as interaction, and brings more of those to my recommended so the company gets my tiny drop on the interaction that they desperately crave.

Oftentimes, the shorts that are the most anger-inducing are indirectly offensive. They are meant to humiliate a group by trying their very hardest to make an individual look unintelligent. The most common type I see is a homophobic interviewer asking questions to a specific person who is in no way representative of the entire group. The interviewee answers in ways that the majority of the audience would find ridiculous, causing the comments to interrupt into hate towards the interviewee.

There isn’t anything awful about the video itself on the surface; a creator is interviewing someone of a different gender, sexuality, religion, or belief. However, the creator does not intend to make this person feel heard. Instead, they are aiming to rake in comments that are certainly in cyberbullying territory.

These types of videos are easily avoidable when looking at typical YouTube videos. If I see a thumbnail of a video that appears to contain offensive content, it is very easy for me to click “don’t recommend” and scroll past without ever viewing the video. I am not offended, I am not upset, and I am still enjoying my time on the app. 

YouTube is one of my all-time favorite social media sites; I like nothing more than to put on an interesting video while I draw. Additionally, I can’t get enough of the quick videos on other platforms such as TikTok and Instagram. Despite this, YouTube should not have adopted this popular form of media onto their app.

Between the frustrating algorithm, the concerning content, and the utter lack of concern for the users, YouTube Shorts are the most frustrating aspect of any social media that I have ever used.