I’ve developed a habit of watching things at a faster speed. I now have a need for speed.
It started in my third year of university. One of my profs often assigned videos for us to watch for homework. Some would be short two minute videos, but some were long, twenty minute TED Talks. I did not like the long ones. And then a friend who was also in the course dropped the biggest life hack on me: watch the videos at double speed.
You may be thinking: double speed is too fast. It’s incomprehensible. But it’s not. Especially if you have subtitles on. I love subtitles. I have them on the TV all the time. And sure, YouTube’s auto-generated ones can be hit or miss, but usually they’re alright. They’re enough for me to glance at the text as I process what I’m hearing. And really, your ears and brain adjust to the faster speed quickly so the more you do it, the easier it is to do.
See, people in TV shows/movies and a lot of YouTube videos talk slower than we talk in most real-life conversations because it’s easier for viewers to understand. If you’ve ever given a speech or presentation, you’d know you need to go slow and enunciate. So speeding that up doesn’t make it impossible to understand, it just makes it faster than expected.
Besides, a lot of the videos I was watching, like the ones for that course, were more about the sound than the picture. TED Talks are just a person standing and speaking. I don’t care if they now pace around on that stage at a weird speed. YouTube videos are largely the same. So that’s why I was shocked and amazed when this same friend informed me that he doesn’t just watch meaningless homework videos and vlogs at a double speed, he watches TV shows at this speed too. Shows that he enjoys. Why would you want to spend less time watching something you enjoy? I decided to not do that.
Until I did it.
Look, for a period last year on Tuesday nights I had seven TV shows to watch. Three of them were full hour shows. By the time midnight was rolling around, I was tired and not giving the shows the proper attention they deserve. So I upped the speed. Suddenly a twenty two minute show was taking eleven minutes. A forty seven minute show was taking twenty three minutes. I was saving time and still being able to consume the content I enjoyed. They just spoke faster and moved faster. I used to spend literally ALL DAY watching the Marvel Netflix shows when they came out. Now I can do it in an evening. And I don’t even feel bad because Jessica Jones Season 2 was a lot of standing and talking anyway.
Of course, you may be thinking, wait, Netflix doesn’t have a speed setting. Do you watch things illegally? The answer is yeah, I sure do, but I also use a Chrome extension that allows me to control the speed on Netflix, so I can watch legally there. It also works on Facebook and Tumblr videos which also don’t have speed settings. I’ve been using it for months, and I love it.
I still prefer to watch a show live on a TV screen (unlike my friend who will wait to watch it quickly online after, and I hope that if he’s reading this, he knows I disapprove) but if I’m in a time crunch and am watching something online, I will not hesitate to speed it up a bit.
Recently I rewatched The Office. I did it at only 1.5 speed (to savour it). Sometimes I’ll watch YouTube videos at 2.5 if it’s someone who really talks slow or I don’t really care about the sound as much as the picture or the info. Either way, I do enjoy the flexibility I now have. And I encourage you to try it. Start slow and use subtitles, if you want. It’ll be weird at first, but you’ll get used to it, and soon be able to watch all the TV shows and movies you never had time for.