[3 minute read]

When I was young – only a few VHS tape mountain bike movies came out per year.

The users of the most popular mountain biking websites Pinkbike, sees 100 new video uploads per day! The content being produced is simply incredible: high quality, inspiring locations, and breathtaking talent.

This article has none of that, no whoa factor. However I do provide theory and an actionable practice that I hope will contribute to a more enriching and more mindful video viewing experience.

I often become desensitized and even hypnotized by the quantity of content online. A common story these days. Once our awareness is absorbed by the digital flow, internet algorithms are free to take charge and guide us. One video finishes and another is suggested or auto played in some apps. You are no longer choosing consciously, but rather being led by whatever is trending, which is based on others who may be unconsciously creating that momentum or on advertisers attempting to influence it. At this point are you holding your phone, or is your phone holding on to you?


My roles vary in videos: pro-rider and coach, producer, and advertiser. No matter the role there is only one chance for me to catch a viewer’s attention because the newsfeed keeps flowing. Intention is vital. For example, as a pro trials rider I have performed tricks when I was truly inspired and I have performed when it was the last thing I wanted to do. I have also taken sketchy risks due to various unacknowledged ego projects. Does the viewer pick up on these distinctions, at least at some level? In my experience they do. Which leads to the question: why are you watching the video? Do you even know? To be entertained or distract yourself? To be inspired to ride? To join in the comment thread community with opinions? To learn a technique? Or perhaps because a friend suggested you watch it?

I’m a huge fan of screen gazing. Our devices are truly magical. How can we not be enamored and even romanced by the riches of information now available? As we scour through this info-flow it’s easy to begin oscillating in and out of consciousness, which creates a more frenetic pace of glass stroking as we hope to find the next vicarious but real dopamine hit. This creates a certain kind of mental-momentum such that, when we turn our attention away from the screen our minds are still reeling. For me, the symptoms show up most clearly when I attempt to a read a book (remember those things?). I feel the gravity from my phone, sitting there, waiting to tell me if I sold a course on my website or if my friends are having some awesome riding adventure. It can even draw me in if I wake up in the middle of the night. And that just doesn’t feel healthy!

It’s strange. Mindfulness is a huge trend. People are ‘waking up’ with greater presence, awareness, and big picture perspective-taking abilities, while at the same time we’re being ‘put to sleep’ by electronic entertainment. Are these necessary opposites, or is there an equivalence to obesity for the consumption of online content? We know we are what we eat, but are we not also what we consume digitally (digital cookies are everywhere!).

Now it is sometimes nice to lose yourself online, just like in a book, but wouldn’t it be even nicer to have a choice as to when we do that? The strength of your awareness muscles determines this. In other words how often are you able to catch yourself habitually opening, closing and re-opening the same pattern of apps and sites on your phone ad infinitum? When I catch myself in these patterns it’s always a WTF moment! It’s just not satisfying. It’s just like scarfing down an awesome cookie and realizing you forgot to taste it. That sucks! I want to taste the cookie (or watch the video) with curiosity and appreciation for those who made it, and what they went through to serve it to me. However, it’s one thing to say that we should savour the experience and another to put into practice.

My ability for a more fulfilling video viewing experience is linked to how the rest of my life is going and most certainly how often I’m getting out for mountain bike rides! Meditation has been a massively important tool for maintaining some semblance-of-self while surfing. A regular meditation practice means that my ‘oh I’m lost online right now’ muscles are strong.


Here’s another seemingly simple practice that I think may contribute to the quality of your video watching time. Try it! Press pause a few seconds into every video you watch online. While it’s paused check in with yourself: “oh here I am sitting here watching videos.” Then you can ask “why am I watching this video?”. Based on the answer you can decide whether or not to press play again. If you do, then I trust it will be a more enriching video viewing experience!