Fighting bad internet habits with ancient long forgotten weapons

You will not have to go to the youtube website ever unless you deliberately want to search for something

The problems:

  1. I’m spending too much time on youtube
  2. I’m watching too many videos I didn’t want to watch
  3. Sometimes I pretend that I’m learning by watching fairly low-level educational content that much more entertaining than educational. Better alternatives exist.

People are generally terrible at estimating how much time do they have and how much is spent on what activities. One of the rules of getting rid of bad habits is: "Make it invisible".

What is the result will look like. You will not have to go to the youtube website ever unless you deliberately want to search for something and you know whom you want to watch.

What if we can have a tool, that allows us to see the content from the people we are interested in from different platforms, with custom folders/tags and all that in chronological order. Sounds too good to be true? Let me introduce you to RSS Feed.

I am going to use newsboat. Newsboat is an RSS feed reader. I also use a̶r̶c̶h̶ ̶b̶t̶w linux.

After you’ve installed the app, try to add the first link. I’ll start with Lex Fridman whom I very much love.

Open ~/.newsboat/urls !YouTubeYouTube

Add this to the very end of the same file:“query:YouTube:tags # \”YouTube\””

This will group all your future youtube subscriptions into one folder called YouTube. Off to a great start, now open the app and press r for reloading. You can see the last 15 videos of Lex. We also tagged it with a youtube label. Let’s add someone else to see it in action: !YouTube YouTube

By the way to get the channel id from youtube do a little bit of googling, but personally I use this.

But the problem is still there. You actually have to go to youtube to watch the video, or have you? Open ~/.newsboat/config

macro y set browser "mpv %u" ; open-in-browser ; set browser "elinks %u"

Now for that to work, you have to have two things: mpv and youtube-dl . Pretty cool, right? Now go to any video in your rss feed and press , + y

Cool. We created a hidden feed then queried it by the tag and it's all grouped in one place.

What I like to do is create separate folders for educational YouTube and distraction YouTube. Again, open ~/.newsboat/urls !YouTube YouTube !Youtube YouTube Distraction

"query:Youtube useful:tags !# \"Distraction\" and tags # \"YouTube\""
"query:DistractionTube:tags # \"Distraction\" and tags # \"YouTube\""

The syntax is a little bit cumbersome, but it works.

My goal here was to put all of the youtube content in a separate place so that additional friction would be needed to actually open the video. When I open the newsboat, I don't want to see the first thing who's uploaded new videos, I'm fine with having just a counter on all youtube videos that I haven't watched. I don't usually do the same for the blogs or news that I want to read.

That's all great but what if I wanted to resume watching a long video? Is it possible? You bet it is. Open ~/.newsboat/config and add an option to mpv -save-position-on-quit so it looks like this:

macro y set browser "mpv --save-position-on-quit %u" ; open-in-browser ; set browser "elinks %u"

Last thing that I'll add here is to allow open the links in the browser, which is as simple as adding one line to .newsboat/config

browser "firefox %u"


Additionally, you can watch youtube with youtube-dl through proxy. Not only you will not go to the site itself, but your IP address will not be revealed. For that to work change

macro y set browser "mpv %u" ; open-in-browser ; set browser "elinks %u"


macro y set browser "mpv --ytdl-raw-options=proxy=http://username:password@proxy.server:port %u" ; open-in-browser ; set browser "elinks %u"

And that's it for today. Use this to fight recommendation addiction. follow interesting people online and have all the stuff in one place.

Add this blog to rss 🙂

Thank you for reading!