Can YouTube make you smarter? Tania Gomez gave herself seven days to find out.
When it comes to YouTube, you could literally fall into a vortex of nothingness and waste five hours watching cat videos.
However, there is another use for it: learning how to do random crap. Which is exactly what I did for one whole week. Here's what I picked up while earning my diploma in video tutorials.
It's an expansive education
That's expansive as in it broadens your horizons, not expensive as in a law degree at Harvard.
One how-to video leads to another and before you know it, you're doped up on free knowledge. Case in point: the first video I looked up involved how-to use a hair doughnut (a circular sponge that you use in your hair to do a full bun).
I then learned through a series of related videos that if I didn't want to shell out $11 to buy one from the shops, I could fashion one myself with some socks and a pair of scissors. I opted for the shop-bought version, but it's good to know that in a doughnut emergency, I could easily make one… I think.
The thing with YouTube is that it's so much easier to follow a video than written instructions. I've had a list of dishes in my head that I've always wanted to learn how to cook and YouTube taught me all of them.
I learnt how to make a beef pie from celebrity chef Bill Granger, how to create a seemingly complicated, but surprisingly easy-to-master Korean dish called bibimbap and Gwyenth Paltrow gave me a lesson on how to make a roast chicken dinner.
I think I'm going to need a whole other YouTube tutorial on how to find all of the overly exotic ingredients she was talking about, though apparently Oscar winners do their grocery shopping on Planet Privileged.
It arms you with important life skills (or sometimes not so much)
During the week I got eaten alive by mosquitoes and burned myself while cooking, but thanks to Dr YouTube I managed to treat myself in both scenarios.
There was one video taught by a rather serious-looking firefighter named Captain Joe, who told me to dab at my mozzie bites with a cloth soaked in hot water to stop them from itching like crazy. It worked!
But this is where becoming a discerning viewer comes in handy. Just as you wouldn't take gynaecological advice from the guy who mows your lawn, you shouldn't take advice from a teenage video blogger who tells you to spit on your bites to stop them from itching. Yes, spit on them.
But luckily the life skill acquisitions didn't stop there. I also learnt how to pick a lock should I ever leave my keys at home. Handy.
Even more handy is that I now know how to hot-wire a car in case I lose my car keys and can't be bothered waiting for the AA (or develop the desire to do a stint in jail).
There is nothing YouTube can't teach you
One of the CLEO girls is pregnant and recommended I watch a video on how to prepare for childbirth. All in the name of investigative journalism… Cut to me eight minutes later looking a little weirded out but infinitely more learned in the act of the perineal massage, which is supposed to help prevent tearing during childbirth. Ouch.
At the other end of the spectrum, I also learned how to put together a Transformer, thanks to my six-year-old godson's YouTube tutorial. If there's ever a Deception invasion, I know I'm sorted.
Ah, YouTube so much more than just cat videos.