Photo by Brad Neathery on Unsplash

Why watch videos at double speed?

Double speed settings on online videos have become the new pineapple on pizza; many people are aggressive in their dislike for it to the point of shunning people who like it. And like pineapple pizza, I’ve grown to love watching videos on double speed.

Faster.

This seems obvious (duh), but consider what it means to watch a video on its original run-time. A ten minute, twenty minute, or one hour video isn’t just a video of such-and-such a length; it’s a fraction of your time, of your day. You are giving up hours of your energy, time, and concentration that you will not get back. You can get the same amount of information and entertainment in half the time.

Videos have changed.

The nature of video and audio sharing/streaming has changed since the early days of the internet. Where once a quick two-minute video could go viral and early Youtubers were hold seminars encouraging people to stay under three minutes, we now live in a world where to even be recommended and placed on trending you need at least ten plus. This is due larger to platforms like YouTube abandoning rating videos on per-click and instead going with watch-time. Strangely, a three minute video watched in full is worth less than a ten minute video only watched a third of the way through. For the foreseeable future, longer videos will be encouraged on the streaming platform, leading people with no choice but to either give up hours of their time to catch up on their favourite vlogs or learn to regain their time through watching at double speed.

You can understand it (even if you think you can’t).

Double speed isn’t actually that fast. It may at first seem threatening, but once you just run with it, you grasp it quickly. We’re more than equipped to understand it. The average human registers 3–5 frames of a video (which is can be as little as one fifth to one sixth of a second, depending on the region (Region 1 (USA) is 30 frames per second, Region 2 (Europe) is 25). Modern film is 24 frames. The original film frame rate was 12 (which is why old black and white silent films seem “sped up”. Our insistence on more frames (50/60+) is more to do with eradicating motion blur and gaming than our inability to understand.

Here’s a brief experiment. Start watching a video at double speed. Half way through switch to normal speed. You’ll notice for a few seconds it’ll about the speaker is slurring their words or sounds drunk. Most people don’t speak at a fast enough rate to be incomprehensible at double speed. In fast you may realise how many people pause and breathe in their speech. This is due to our thought process and how rarely we really know what we’re going to say. That’s exactly why we have filler words (Umm, eh, well…, you know, like, things); we need time to think about what we’re trying to say. You’re only wasting your own time listening to pauses and filler words.

Some things should be fast, some things should be slow.

Not all videos are created the same, hence why I have standards for what videos I do and don’t watch at double speed. Informative/infotainment (news, video essays, short vlogs, etc) I will watch at double speed, since the aim is to gain information. This is the case with hour long videos I mentioned before, which seems to be the new bread and butter for video-essayists. Comedic videos (sketches, parody news, viral videos, etc) I will watch on normal speed, since the delivery and pattern of speech is more important in these types of videos. Watching videos at double speed allows you to not only gain information faster but teaches you to appreciate slowing down and really taking in what is being said.

Ironically, many of the people who denounce double speed are the same people who wish they had more hours in the day or try to justify to themselves watching their favourite creators for hours at a time. These are people who want things to go by faster without wanting to say it. There’s a time for making things go faster but there’s also a time for slowing day and enjoying the rest.

Just like going fast for everything isn’t the answer, so is submitting to limitations that oblige you to give over your time. There needs to be a balance. And it’s only by going fast on some things that you can recognise the moments where you should go slow.

Pineapple on pizza is nice (to me). Not just because I like it but because having it on one occasion makes me appreciate not having it on another occasion and instead opting for peppers or a plain cheese. And like that, going fast helps me savour the enjoyment of going slow too.

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Writer. Opinions are my own. https://ko-fi.com/conormatthews

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