This claim surprised me, because autoplay videos are everywhere and always despicable. Autoplay videos, to me, are trying to hijack my experience of time and slow me down to that of a video unfolding at its inexorable pace. When given the choice between reading and viewing video, I will always choose to read, because I control the pace. Watching video feels like a kind of entrapment to me; i get impatient having to submit to someone else’s idea of what pace ideas should be disclosed. 

So I have a hard time believing that any literate humans enjoy autoplay. I tend to assume that everyone thinks of them as blatant intrusions into their internet experience, akin to pop-ups. The idea that people might want videos to autoplay, that they experience surrender to the passivity of video-time as pleasurable and desirable, is utterly unfathomable to me. (But that is why I will probably end up a Leon Wieseltier type, howling my verbose jeremiads to the wind while everyone else is making Vines.)

When a site makes things autoplay, it is because they don’t think you will play them otherwise and they have promised their advertisers that you will watch. That seems self-evident. Embedded videos trust you to watch at your leisure, autoplay videos conscript you into watching, forcing you to scramble to shut them off. Autoplay videos would pry your eyelids open Clockwork Orange style if they had the means to.

Autoplay videos are always inherently “out of place”; they are fundamentally unwanted. They are intruders. They are the enemy. When you watch them, you have, in a sense, become the enemy, collaborating with a regime that assumes it is reasonable to expect people to submit to the regimented pace dictated by media companies at their command. It is collaborating with a regime that believes that commandeering your attention against your will is actually doing you a favor. It is assenting to the view that we are too unfocused and apathetic to decide where to put our focus and attention unguided.  

Territory Annexed


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