Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Vlogging vloggers and their followers

Vlogging has been on my mind a lot recently. A rather infamous blogger, whose blog I no longer follow, apparently announced (I heard this through the grapevine, but through a reputable source) she was going to begin a daily vlog, following in the footsteps of a lot of other folks who are doing the same thing, and supposedly making money at it.

I read in the paper this morning about about two Christian vloggers who document their daily family life on YouTube as their new profession, speaking on everything from their faith to their pregnancies to their marital issues.  (Here's a link: http://gawker.com/christian-youtubers-welcome-new-baby-to-a-lifetime-of-m-1736023268

It seems strange to me that in a society where most of us barely have time to keep up with our extended family and friends that for some of us, we still find enough time to watch -- or worse, record -- a daily vlog which reaches out to total strangers about the daily minutiae of  ordinary life, be it rural or urban. 

If Malala had a vlog I'd probably watch that, but she's obviously got more perspective than to think talking into a video camera about herself every day is a productive way to be in the world. She's too busy trying to change it for the better.

As for homesteading and having a daily vlog, it seems to me that if you're really walking the walk, how in the world would you have time for this? After all, vlogging is a lot more complex than just blogging, which is a lot like journaling. In blogging, you sit down and take a quiet moment to share news or write about something that's been on your mind. That's a quiet time of reflection, thinking and, in a sense, authoring and writing. And if you happen to be a writer, it's a good way to keep your hand in the game. 

But setting up your phone or a camera to record yourself and talking to it, or worse, setting it up to record yourself doing some task or other seems like a HUGE time waster if you're homesteading and at the time of year when the days are getting shorter, like right now. Less daylight for the same tasks. Tick tock goes the clock. 

Or maybe you just plan on having nightly fireside chats with your viewers and talking about all the stuff you did. Would people watch it? Who knows?

You know, if someone wants to make a living doing stuff like this, and other people 1) have enough free time or 2) lack the brain space to figure out they could be doing something better than watching someone else live their lives, then I guess I don't really have a dog in this fight and should just leave well enough alone.

It just seems strange. First, reality TV and now, reality TV via YouTube. Because, obviously, we just can't get enough of the Kardashians, Real Housewives and Braxtons and need even more content, with people just living. Or staging what they want us to think their lives are like, anyway.

Of course the financial pragmatist in me would love to ask these YouTube fame-seekers how their retirement accounts are doing, or whether they are satisfied with their health care, or whether they've thought about the 10 - 20 year prospects of this new job of theirs. Like any other career in show business, the odds of long-term fame are almost nil, unless you really hit the jackpot. But at least, even for the waiter who occasionally finds work in TV or movies, he does get compensated at union wages, and if he finds roles often enough, will eventually be eligible for SAG/AFTRA union retirement, health care, etc. YouTubers get no such benefits.

But of course, these practical things like figuring out a way to live when you are 70 pale in comparison to achieving a minor status of fame and having followers right now. 

But here's a lovely little irony: In other news, I read another article that said that by the end of this century, certain geographic regions of the Middle East/North Africa will no longer be able to sustain human habitation, due to temperatures rising to new summer highs of 165 - 170 degrees, or the equivalent of an oven hot enough to cook a chicken nicely.

The vlogging vloggers and their band of  blind followers somehow never seem to tackle topics like this, instead preferring to bombard us us with day-in-the-life type posts -- every day -- featuring their freshly made-up faces front and center and banal stories of "what I did today." Which may explain why a certain segment of the population prefers them to the actual reality of their lives and their planet. It's an uncomfortable reality we're facing more and more. 

Maybe the YouTube vlogging phenomenon is an unconscious attempt to distract attention from the elephant, who at this point is roasting, in the room. 


  1. I'm just wondering how she plans to keep hiding things from her audience. It's one thing when a writer doesn't include a photo of something but quite another when the vlogger can't be persuaded to tilt the camera one way or another. I don't enjoy the aimless nature of vlogs, so I don't watch them. With the exception of one, Fresh P, who I'll check in on every now and then because at least she has her thoughts organized enough for it to feel informative and interesting. What strikes me as most unsettling though is a problem on a much smaller scale (I'm a detail thinker, big picture-not so much) is wondering how many of these people are too shy to smile and say hello to a stranger? Probably many. I'm all for finding your voice and expressing yourself, but it's a slippery slope into absorbing a persona and smothering your true self. Which then makes a shy person more shy and the persona more exaggerated.

    1. Agreed, it's such an impersonal means of communication that if it starts to take the place of real relationships, we're all in trouble. The art of conversation will be dead, and people won't be able to get to know each other in "normal" ways.

  2. I totally agree. I just don't get reality TV or YouTube Reality TV. I am documenting with my blog so I can look back & remember some of the struggles & hopefully some of the triumphs of my journey. If someone wants to read, fine but it's also ok if they don't. I find myself just barely glancing at the blog list & only really reading (& yes even sometimes commenting) those which I consider 'blog friends'. I turn the TV off after the morning news & don't turn it back on until the evening news. We watch more cooking, gardening & discovery channel than anything else. Still having a hard time not checking my email often, during the day, but that too shall come to pass & I'll only check maybe once in the AM & PM. Old habits are hard to break!

    1. You are right, but unlike much of the younger generation, you and I are very aware that these electronic activities need to be limited in order to find time for "real" life. I fear for the 20-somethings who have grown up with these kinds of entertainment and do not take time away from them -- ever. It's going to be a strange new world in another 50 years. Heck, it's strange now!