The Depth of a Youtuber

As some of you who read my posts regularly know, I have a channel on Youtube that is titled “theartbook35”. This is an old internet handle that I’ve used since I was 13, which means I’ve been using this handle for 17 years. If you really need to know, I borrowed a book from a library back then that was titled “The Art Book”, and I just liked the sound of it. When we got CompuServe (the shitty AOL alternative and a testament to my age), I made “theartbook” my username. A short time later, I added the number 35, purely because that’s my favorite number. It’s my go-to username on every site I join (at least when I want people to know it’s me), because it’s never unavailable about 99% of the time. It has absolutely NOTHING to do with my channel’s content, which is primarily Minecraft survival series (modded and vanilla), building and the occasional retro game.

Since March of 2015 I’ve been uploading regularly to my channel. I get a lot of enjoyment out of making videos, because I can make whatever I want and know that the handful of people who watch my videos, actually like what I do. Of course my aim is to have more than 250 subscribers, and I’d like for my channel to become a source of income for me. But I’m also old in spirit, so I’m not banking on ad revenue being my only source of money. That’s why I have a somewhat standard job at a retail store. Working in retail is not always glamorous, but my work environment is a huge step up in comparison to Walmart and Target, as well as other retail chains, and the only thing less glamorous than retail is being unemployed. I’m happy where I am, devoted to the work I do and I have no plans to ever become unemployed again, even if my Youtube channel gains millions of subscribers in the future.

One thing I can say about myself is that even though I have fun with life, because of my old-fashioned brain, I take things seriously. Even my videos can be serious business. I swear up a storm sometimes in my commentary, say silly things and temporarily return to my childhood, but I have standards at the same time. If my commentary is shit quality, or the video footage is shit quality, it will not go on my channel. And believe me, I know when something is bad quality, especially if I know it’s something I wouldn’t watch. I’m gentle about how I advertise my videos within my videos. I keep my intros short and to the point. I tell people at the end of each video that if they enjoyed the content, they have the option to leave a like or a comment or possibly subscribe. I have an end screen and that’s it. I’m not going to beg people to stay, because if they’re going to stay, then they have the sense to make that choice, and I’m not desperate to be popular. Do I want to be popular? Technically, yes. I somewhat define popularity as a lot of people liking me. There’s nothing wrong with me wanting to be liked by a bunch of people. Who doesn’t want people to like them? But my entire idea of being popular is more along the lines of people enjoying my videos, and responding to my commentary so we can create interesting discussions in the comment section. Why should the enjoyment of a video stop when the video itself stops? I’m not trying to make my channel educational (even though I have worked as a teacher for many years), I just don’t have the heart to throw videos at people and pretend to care about my subscribers. I need to speak to people, which I see many content creators on Youtube fail to do.

When it comes to Youtubers who conduct themselves in a way that I disagree with, I am not going to name names, no matter how badly I want to. I have a very different idea of expressing my opinion than how people younger than me like to express themselves nowadays. It’s very hard for me to not call out someone directly and hold them to task or make them responsible for their actions/behavior. I don’t get offended by the little shit, especially when it’s not even shit, and only the big shit can make me speak up. But I have observed a trend on Youtube for a long time, where gamers beg for subscribers and to “smash that like button”, and they don’t give a flying fuck about the people who watch their videos. Those subscribers they’ve accumulated don’t even register on their humanity scales. I may not have millions of subscribers, but the 250 that I have I definitely earned, and if I earn millions, I sure as hell won’t objectify them the way these kids like to. And don’t you dare even think of telling me I’m doing one of those holier than thou things, or being snooty, because I’m not better than other people. I just had the unfortunate experience of being objectified for most of my life, and that experience has taught me to never do that to someone else.

There are a select few Youtubers who I feel like have some real depth to who they are. My all time favorite channel is “ochikeron”, whose videos are about Japanese home-cooked meals, traditional Japanese recipes and the artistry of cooking. Another favorite of mine is “Grant Thompson”, who refers to himself as the King of Random because his channel’s content doesn’t fit into a particular mold. Science experiments, projects, decorations, tools, it just goes on and on and on. And it’s funny because unlike ochikeron, who makes videos about recipes that I actually use in my day to day life, Grant Thompson’s projects and experiments are things that I would never try. I love science like you wouldn’t believe, and I enjoy watching him try these things, but they serve absolutely no purpose to my every day life. I think my fascination with his channel is that beyond the videos, he’s a husband with four children and has responsibilities outside of Youtube.

One of the best experiences I have ever had with my channel, is being able to tell my subscribers that I have important things going on in my life outside of Youtube, and those things will impact my ability to record and/or edit my videos. And I make it a point to remind people that I care about my channel, but I also care about my family, friends and my retail job a lot more. My subscribers respect this, and it’s probably because I’m honest with them. The best thing I learned from working as a salesperson, is that if you make people feel like they are obligated to buy what you are selling, you are lying to their faces and that is hurtful. I understand, and my subscribers understand that Youtube is not everything; it is not the end all and be all and it never will be. Youtube will not last forever, no matter how popular it may be right now. Just like how Facebook replaced Myspace, Twitch can replace Youtube. And it honestly scares the hell out of me how many young people devote themselves to their “Youtube careers”, quit their jobs and in some cases sell their souls for internet fame. The class, dignity and professionalism are thrown out the window, because they are so desperate for those likes and subscribers. I call bullshit on anyone in their early to mid 20’s who dares to say that they dreamed of being a Youtuber when they were younger. You’re on average only five years younger than me, and when you were a kid, Youtube wasn’t even a thing. I can’t say what you should be dreaming about, because your life is not mine to live, but I can say it shouldn’t be Youtube.

If anything, view Youtube has a stepping stone to greater possibilities. It’s a good way to build connections to other content creators, who often times know people that will be able to give you a recommendation or even get your feet in the door. For people who dream big, like visual art, publishing their books, acting, music, and other forms of entertainment, Youtube is a good avenue for these projects. This is where the depth of a Youtuber comes in. When Youtube eventually disappears, what will you go on to do? Migrate to another website and keep producing videos where you sell your soul, or will you pursue something that you actually love doing?

One Youtuber I want to discuss is Markiplier. He’s been a popular topic of discussion for a long time, for a lot of reasons. Most of the time it’s because people question how real he is, which is hilarious to me, given that people en mass don’t seem to question the legitimacy of the fakest Youtubers on the map. Is it really so hard to believe that someone on Youtube can be real and honest with his audience? The thing is, Mark is followed by millions of very young people, and he speaks to them and doesn’t subscribe to the bullshit that his fellow content creators subscribe to. And these young people couldn’t be bothered to listen to his suggestions of how to treat others; they’d rather tear fellow fans apart and harass each other just to prove they are the best fans ever. In the beginning, Mark drew in a good sized crowd of people who engaged in what he said, respected him as a person and appreciated the respect he gave them. This is basically what I have done with my channel thus-far. Not inspired by Mark of course because it comes naturally for me to act this way. But I do wonder from time to time, if my channel were to reach the level that Mark’s has reached, if I’d end up with a fanbase who is predominantly mean and nasty like his.

The one good thing I can say is that outside of Youtube, Markiplier has the power to walk away and go on to other things. His recent comedy/improv tour proved that. While I do think the tour was poorly organized, sloppy in places, and certainly not something that some of the people involved were ready for, I also appreciate his willingness to aim for something he’s passionate about. Mark was not required to give a fuck about his future. He was fully capable of sitting at home making gameplay videos and sucking off his fandom, but he chose a different avenue. He exercised this basic human quality called DEPTH. Again, while I don’t think the tour is the best thing ever created, I do think it’s a great example of who he is as a person and what creative endeavors he cares about. I hope other people can respect that, and have the insight to see his pathway choices as a form of wisdom and/or inspiration.

I can say for myself that if I ever get to a point where my Youtube channel serves no purpose in my life, I will be able to walk away and feel good about it. At the end of the day I am not a Youtuber, but instead an artist, writer and an educator. I have a future ahead of me. I hope that if you are a young content creator who is banking on Youtube being your career path, that you take what I have written here to heart and find something within yourself far more magical than begging people to smash like buttons and subscribe to your videos.

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