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Are Hypnotic YouTube Edits Getting Old?

There’s a particular trend that has come to dominate videos on social media. It’s called “retention editing,” because of its ability to keep users visually engaged, and it’s typified by quick pacing, loud sound effects, and cutting the natural pauses that typify live speech. With the rise of short-form video on apps like YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram, the style is everywhere.

Dara Pesheva is a teenager who moonlights as a video editor for content creators. “Every clip should be under two seconds,” says Pesheva, who says that flashing graphics, subtitles, and movement are staples in the average user’s video diet. Noah Kettle of Moke Media Company, refers to this as the “Beastification of YouTube,” referring to influencer superstar Jimmy Donaldson, known on his channel as “MrBeast.”

MrBeast uses a similar style, punctuated by ambitious action sequences, and with over 250 million subscribers, his aesthetic choices have a huge trickle-down effect as many other users copy it hoping for similar success.

“It’s designed to be addictive,” says David McNamee, who heads a social media brand agency. “It’s like a slot machine with bells and whistles that are keeping you entertained because the [video] is so bright and it’s loud. It doesn’t matter what the content is, because your brain is being told this is entertaining because it’s flashy.”

But even MrBeast is now having second thoughts. On X he tweeted out a plea: “get rid of the ultra-fast paced/overstim era of content.” His most recent videos have trended toward better storytelling, yelling less, and letting scenes breathe more. Though these have resulted in longer videos, his views have only increased.

Pesheva says retention editing is problematic long-term because of its prolonged impact on the end user. “People around my age can’t focus. They have very short attention spans. They’re used to TikTok, and so editors have to adjust for Gen Z. They have to adjust to the fact that people can’t keep their attention on something for more than a second if it’s not entertaining.”

Possible Preaching Angle:

In this frantic world of information overload competing for our attention, it is crucial to learn to slow down and take time to evaluate and absorb the information we are consuming. This is especially true in our reading and meditating on the Word of God.

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