Can't. Stop. Watching. That's pretty much been the response to a live steam hailing from Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The video, which focuses on a single intersection near Town Square, has been available to view on YouTube since July 20, 2016. Thousands of simultaneous viewers are logging in to comment and chat about what they see, even though it's...you know...an intersection.
So if the video is just a typical American crossroads, what's driving *cough* people to choose it over, say, the last season of Game of Thrones or House of Cards?
The Need to Relax
Stress has pretty much taken over the modern worker's life, with responsibilities overwhelming employees both at home and on the job. But watching the Jackson Hole stream requires nothing. Nada. Zip. You can zone out and, in a way, meditate away your anxiety, with everyone else continuing to walk/drive by while you, for once, stop.
The Brain's Craving for What's Novel
Despite the fact people take comfort in familiarity, the brain actually is very easily distracted by new or novel stuff. Every time you expose yourself to something you haven't seen or done before, the reward centers of your brain activate, giving you a shot of dopamine (a natural hormone) that makes you feel awesome. The Jackson Hole stream is never static, kind of like your Facebook feed. A truck. Four passersby. Oh, a bird! It's all delicious freshness that makes you giddy.
The Need for Connection
People are social creatures. The people on the Jackson Hole stream aren't doing anything particularly Earth shattering, but nevertheless, seeing them and chatting online triggers profound emotional reactions related to our need to connect. A driver turning too fast? Oh, watch out! There goes a guy on rollerblades. Super fun! All of a sudden, we're part of a pack, and we don't have to fear isolation and rejection anymore. The live chat feed also lights up like a pinball machine and is highly entertaining. So far, I've seen a red truck on a fishing pole and a woman carrying an oversized teddy bear -- which was pretty cool. Report back if you see something interesting.
Jackson Hole's live stream isn't mindless. It actually serves deep psychological needs. So go ahead. Indulge. It's way better than a lot of the alternatives.