I have a confession to make that may be surprising to many of you. I have never watched a perfume video review. Never. I know they exist, and I see links to them all the time, but somehow the idea of watching a film of someone telling me what I could read a lot faster just doesn’t appeal to me. I have the same reaction to video news items and videos on how to do various things. Unless there’s some technique that needs to be demonstrated in real time, that can’t easily be described verbally, I don’t see the utility of them. The proliferation of how-to videos is mind-boggling, covering everything from “how to have a relationship” (really!) to “how to defrost food" (really!)
I’m sure it’s easier for many people to simply talk in front of a phone or a camera than it is for them to sit down and try to actually write out their thoughts in a coherent way, but the result is much harder to process for those of us who grew up reading. The new generation of students in my classes have started getting information for their research papers from videos of lectures and other video sources. Some of them write formal documents in the same conversational style that was undoubtedly used in the videos they watched. It takes them much longer to write a paper than it does those students who use written sources of material. It makes me wonder how many generations it will take for everyone in the world to become illiterate in the sense we currently understand literacy and illiteracy, with only a few elite scholars being able to access any documents produced before the 21st century.
I often wonder why I find informational videos so aversive, and I think it has to do with the fact that one’s progress through them is necessarily linear. In a hard-copy or online written document, it’s easy to skip from one section to another at will, skip over all of the uninteresting or irrelevant parts, and get the gist of the desired information extremely quickly or - as is often the case - see that the whole thing contains no useful information at all. Having to watch a complete informational video is frustrating to me because I can’t see the whole picture at once, to spot the nugget of information that I want. Fast-forwarding is not the same as skipping around in a written document, since it’s also a linear process. This observation is particularly interesting given that I have no problem reading a whole novel from page 1 through to the end, or watching a film made for entertainment from beginning to end.
Do you watch perfume review videos? Do you like them? Do you find them more or less useful than written reviews?
[Pictures randomly chosen from online videos and modified for the purposes of illustration]