THE BLOG

Time to Call the YouTube Cleaning Crew

02/02/2015 02:36 pm ET | Updated Apr 04, 2015

I always reserve the dark early months of winter for some early spring cleaning. Maybe it's because I'm on a roll after throwing out assorted Christmas boxes, gift wrap, decorative tissue and holiday lights that stopped working somewhere around December 14. Most likely it's because there is nothing else to do when you live in Chicago, your football team again failed to qualify for the post-season and the temperature is stuck on single digits. May as well grab a feather duster.

So, while taking inventory of possessions I should keep and discarding numerous objects I have paid no attention to in years, it occurred to me that the folks in charge of YouTube should do the same.

YouTube's statistics webpage doesn't reveal how many videos are contained on its site; it merely states that six billion hours of video are watched each month and 100 additional hours are uploaded every minute. Simple math concludes it would take slightly more than four days to watch all new videos that are uploaded in one measly 60-second span. And yet, how many existing videos have long outlived their usefulness, meaning somebody actually wants to watch them?

Occasionally we read of an offensive or threatening video that has been pulled from YouTube. I assume that means a team of individuals -- or one veeeerrryyy overworked employee -- is monitoring all YouTube uploads, staring at everything from a baby's first steps to bored teenagers placing random household products into microwaves. To aid YouTube in the 2015 cleaning purge, might I suggest my patented method of creating two piles: "keep" and "toss." (I have tried to indoctrinate my wife into using a similar method but with no results. Her cleaning ritual usually begins after she attempts to retrieve something in her closet and is temporarily buried by falling storage containers.)

The YouTube "keep" pile should contain the following:

All videos featuring chronically ill children given the opportunity to shoot a basket, score a touchdown or round the bases during an athletic contest. I have seen dozens of these videos and they never fail to produce a lump in my throat; ditto for YouTube clips that feature armed service members whose homecomings include surprising their wives, girlfriends or children.

That's it for the "keep" pile. See how easy this is?

The "toss" pile will be considerably larger, seeing as it should contain the following videos:

  • ANYTHING featuring a dog or cat. For those who uploaded a video of your pet doing something amazingly cute -- be it 10 seconds or 10 minutes -- please stop. Your pet is adorable; we all know it.
  • The Interview. The Seth Rogen/James Franco attempt at comedy is now on Netflix. Get rid of it, YouTube. Why tempt North Korean hackers?
  • All Ice Bucket Challenge videos can go. If you participated in the summer-long ALS fundraiser, thank you for raising money to fight this debilitating disease. No further visual proof is required.
  • All "how-to" videos that do nothing more than explain how to unpackage a product. Yes, many of us don't know -- and will never know -- all the cool features contained in our iPhone 6, but we all know how to open the box without step-by-step narration.
  • Family reunion videos in which all family members are still alive. Nobody outside of your immediate family wants to see highlights of your three-day Disney World or Caribbean cruise get-together. If someone in the video passes away, you are entitled to repost.

By my purely unscientific estimates, these simple steps should reduce the amount of YouTube videos by at least half. I'll be back next January with more "site cleaning" suggestions. In the meantime, pet owners can practice restraining themselves from videotaping their adorable animals frolicking in snow.