The Accidental Journal

I had an epiphany this morning as I went through my YouTube watchlist.

I realised I'd accidentally created a journal through this regular list of videos I wanted to watch later.

It's unlike any traditional journaling system because it doesn't capture my thoughts, past emotions or any deep information about me, but it highlights one thing:

How my interests have changed or remained the same over the years

The watchlist is 389 videos long and is the culmination of years of putting aside videos to watch later based on my interests at the time.

While some videos on the list are random saves based on momentary YouTube recommendations, most are on what I wanted to learn back then.

For example, a year or two ago, I was interested in relearning some of the fundamental concepts of photography and picking new tricks along the way. Zooming in on that area of my watchlist reveals a plethora of videos I had saved around camera gear and photography tips:

My love for photography spans across subjects.

Fast-forward to late 2022, I transitioned from still photography to learning more about videography, colour grading and tips on shooting YouTube videos.

I was preparing to record the first few videos for my YouTube channel, and the leftover saved videos tell that story:

After recording a few videos, I paused video production because I couldn't fit it into my schedule anymore and returned to camera basics and still photography.

Shooting photos was still a relaxing escape from the daily pressures at work, and learning offbeat ideas from other photographers felt fun.

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Then, in late 2023, my interests transitioned to learning more about artificial intelligence and how to use various AI apps that were popping up every week.

Recently, a few workout and nutrition videos have seeped into my watchlist as I've prioritised my health again and started learning more about muscle-building and balanced nutrition.

Growing interests aside, as I scrolled through the entire list, I found a few occasional productivity, travel and personal growth videos tucked within the other groups of videos.

These videos represent not what has changed in my life but what has remained constant throughout the last few years.

They highlight what I value dearly in my life.

I could review my YouTube watch history, Twitter bookmarks, and more to investigate my interests further, but that's a story for another day.

For now, I'm glad I found this mini journal I had crafted unintentionally. It allowed me to peek into my past self and retrospect my life.

If you're like me and haven't quite found your mojo in keeping a daily journal, this lightweight and semi-automatic journaling system might be what you need.

And this doesn't have to be on YouTube or any social media.

Your browser bookmarks, read-later list, email inbox or even your Amazon purchase history can tell you more about your interest and behavioural changes over the years.

We have already given these big tech companies our daily activity data in exchange for using their services.

Why don't we leverage their well-crafted tools and some of the collected data to learn more about ourselves?

Find your accidental journal.

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