Internet Time Machine

My Descent Into YouTube Addiction

I’ve been ignoring the part of me that craves quiet

Domingo Cullen
Human Parts
Published in
8 min readFeb 27, 2019


Illustration: Jesse Zhang

This story is part of the Internet Time Machine, a collection about life online in the 2010s.

TThe wild elephants turn back to salute the men who have saved their baby elephant from the ditch. They raise their trunks aloft with wondrous grace in a moment between man and beast. I don’t blink, hardly twitch. Lit by the glow of the laptop screen, my face shows no flicker of emotion. The video finishes and the next one begins to load. “Electrocuted squirrel gets CPR by kind man.”

Unbeknownst to me, the daylight has faded across to the other side of the Earth, and I am in darkness. I am lying on my bed in the fetal position, as I have been for three hours straight… watching YouTube.

I don’t know exactly how long I’ve had a YouTube problem.

The first chapters of addiction are often written in the pen of innocence. Mine started in the same way all others must—with a joy unforeseen. A music video with a new friend behind the sofa at some party one unending summer night. An email in my inbox linking a highlight reel of Messi’s greatest dribbles, coming in off the right wing, scything through tackles like water.