Friday, April 25, 2014

Ask Amanda Jane: OMG! You Have To Watch This!

Dear Amanda Jane,
How do I get my friend to shop showing me YouTube videos? I hate when I am at a social gathering and someone insists that we watch the latest "funniest video" they've found on the internet. Shouldn't there be some modern manners for sharing viral clips on your phone? Like only force someone to watch a single video, and then be prepared to watch one of theirs... and if they don't share something, just end the sharing. I also don't think you should ever share a YouTube video that is very long... watching something for over a minute on someone's phone is torture. What does modern etiquette dictate? 
   -Not Funny

Not Funny,
Back in the day there used to be this cliché joke about the dreaded task of going to a friend's house and being forced to view slides of their Yellowstone vacation photos. The bottom line was it was always awkward, always uninvited, and never enjoyable to anybody not in the photos. "Not Funny" you have presented us with a modern day equivalent of this phenomena, with the notable exception that the offender likely has no claim to the content, other than they found it on the Internet! In other words they aren't the "Tall guy" from "Tall guy hitting head on ceiling fan=Lolz" they just happened to find the video of said event. It's really not much better than pulling out pictures of adorable children (that aren't yours) from your wallet or reading a joke off a Laffy Taffy wrapper. You have no claim to the content, I didn't ask to see it, and even if it is the funniest video ever made- nobody has ever left a party thinking, "I'm sure glad Stephanie showed me that video of a cat dressed up like a Popsicle." No! You leave the party thinking "it was so fun hanging out with Stephanie." Unless Stephanie is the one that keeps showing you unsolicited videos, in that event you're probably thinking "Yuck, who keeps inviting Stephanie?"

But I'm guessing you already know this and that's why you want to know how to stop it. The thing is, unless you are at a party that is solely dedicated to this type of video sharing, than no matter the merits of the video, you are being rude to make anyone watch anything on demand. Because the bottom line is, when you are talking to someone face to face and all you can say is "watch this video" what you are really communicating is "instead of interacting with you while we are both standing right here, I would rather watch a stranger throw-up a tablespoon of cinnamon, or an adorable orphan ride a unicycle."

The other unsavory element of being shown online clips on demand is the "expected reaction" element. If you've ever been forced to watch a viral video- than you've been watched while you watch a video and know how incredibly awkward and unenjoyable of a situation it is to be in (regardless of the content.) In an attempt to be kind and "have the proper reaction" you are watching the clip constantly thinking while you halfheartedly laugh "Is this the hilarious part where I laugh or is that still coming?"

I personally have a pretty strong no-tolerance level when it comes to being forced to watch videos at social events, but your level of tolerance may be more flexible (if you've established that you'd be willing to sit through at least one.) So after you've met your threshold, just distance yourself from the situation by saying "Oh, you'll have to post that one on Facebook for me to look at when I get home" or "Oh, email that one to me sometime" and the more relentless they are the more blunt you are allowed to be "Seriously Stephanie, I don't even like watching my own kids sing the Frozen song!"

So for any of you out there left wondering what the proper etiquette for sharing viral clips at social events is- the answer is that rarely, if ever, should they be shared in person. Because honestly, that is what Facebook is for.

Amanda Jane

To have your own etiquette question featured on the blog, send an email to, with the subject line "Ask Amanda Jane". We look forward to your questions!

Previous Ask Amanda Jane's:

Annoyed With Roofus
Good Fences Make Good Neighbors
Just a Facebook Friend?

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