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August 10, 2014 | by  | in Opinion Weird Internet Shit |
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Weird Internet Shit

Way way back, in those halcyon pre-Recession days when the internet was still novel and a sense of economic dread didn’t pervade your every waking moment, YouTube introduced its first time limit. It was 2006: the one-year-old website was exploding into the public consciousness, and onto the desks of law firms all over America. Bandwidth was expensive, and most of the longer videos were copyrighted episodes of TV shows and films – a ten-minute limit seemed perfect.

The years wore on. YouTube upped the quality of its videos, it partnered with the people so eager to sue it, and it became part of the Google behemoth. After a small increase to 15 minutes in 2010, YouTube went all out with a ten-hour limit in 2011. Why not, right?

Like water filling a glass, ten-hour videos appeared immediately. It is natural for any medium to be stretched, to be tested – but these videos aren’t just experiments any more, they are a subgenre unto themselves. A weird subgenre.

Most of them aren’t actual ten-hour narratives, duh. They are loops – sometimes of a song, sometimes of just a few seconds of a shitty meme – replayed for ten hours. As such, it’s easy to dismiss them as simply an update, a bandwidth-hogging alternative to the video+sound loops of YTMND in the early 2000s. But the ‘ten hours’ element changes things. A good loop might divert you for five or ten minutes. You understand that you could theoretically watch it forever, and thus watch it for as long as it is funny. With that ten-hour limit, a goal is introduced, a narrative. Ten hours is achievable.

A friend of mine’s little brother watched ten hours of ‘Epic Sax Guy’, broken up into chunks, like a project. That’s what today’s 14-year-olds are doing with their time. Then, most of the videos aren’t construed as challenges or jokes; most of them are just songs that people like listening to on repeat. Underneath the ten-hour version of ‘Let It Go’, various commenters thank the uploader for providing something they could have achieved with a ‘repeat’ button, ask for ten-hour versions of other songs, and congratulate each other on ‘finishing’ the video. While many simply comment on the novelty, there are clearly people who use these videos earnestly, usually as background music, to play video games or do homework to.

It’s the kind of thing only a child would do. Only a child has that kind of freedom, that kind of soul-crushing boredom and single-minded obsession with a single piece of pop culture. Kids can watch the same movie every day and be entertained every time. Once, on a long summer’s day deep in my tweenhood, a friend insisted we listen to Akon’s ‘Lonely’ on repeat throughout the entire day. The years roll on, the seasons ever shorter, but some things never change.

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