Sunday, May 26, 2013

My "Thing"

It's almost here. The "One Channel" design rolls out on YouTube in about ten days or so. Every time I visit my channel, a little notification pops up to remind me. I've compared this memo to that creepy phone call the characters receive in The Ring letting them know they're about to die. Needless to say, I'm not super pleased.

I was one of the original beta testers for the new channel design. I'm not sure exactly how many pages of notes I wrote and emailed, but I can tell you that probably about 99% of my thoughts seem to have fallen upon deaf ears or else were shot down pretty quickly. I eventually opted to switch back to the current design until "One Channel" became mandatory. But this post isn't about my issues with that. I'm sitting here typing and backspacing and typing and backspacing because I keep having to remind myself to let it go. I tried my best and it just doesn't matter anymore. It's gonna happen and maybe you love it and that's great. More power to ya.

Despite my decision to ride out the old layout as long as possible, I've begun making preparations for the coming apocalypse. It was during these preparations I came to a depressing realization: I've been vlogging for over six and a half years, and I still have no fucking idea what the hell I'm doing.

This thought crept up on me as I was trying to decide what content to display on my new "One Channel" page when it rolls out. I began trolling around some other YouTube channels to see what the norms were. Right away, I noticed playlists galore. Playlists for vlogs and tutorials and how-tos and gaming vids and sketches and science videos and any other sort of unique series people are coming up with these days. Playlists for everything! Everyone has "things" they do regularly.

I guess I didn't start YouTube with intentions of it turning into what it is today. Call me stupid and shortsighted and naive, but I started vlogging to make friends and express myself in a medium I feel comfortable with, and I've tried my best to keep those things within my sights instead of some of the other things people are chasing now. (Not saying the things people are chasing now are good or bad. Just not for me.) Don't worry, I'm not gonna climb onto my rocking chair and take out my corncob pipe and start groaning about the early days of YouTube. Lord knows I (and many others) have pounded that subject into the ground.

My point is that my channel is a mutt. I've never had a "thing" like all these other YouTubers have a "thing." My videos have evolved over the years as I've grown over the years and I make new ones based on whatever I'm feeling in those moments leading up to switching on the camera. I feel like my entire adult life has been a weird experiment to see how some lanky, gay kid from Arkansas deals with growing up with people watching him online. So far, I'd say the results are inconclusive as to whether or not I'm gonna turn out okay (although I'd say it's going a bit better than it seems to be for Lindsay Lohan).

Should I have figured out my channel by now? Should I have a "thing"? Yeah, I've done tutorials and how-tos and gaming videos and other sorts of things that could be categorized, but nothing has ever been my "thing." Those videos have always been spontaneous and sometimes I'll do a few of one thing and never do it again. They're certainly nothing to build a playlist for. Some might say drinking is my "thing," or bedazzling or Tomb Raider or Brinty. But none of those things are what my channel is about. (And I'm definitely not about to make a "drinking" playlist. That's a few steps closer to following Lindsay than I'd like to be.)

As corny as it sounds, my channel is just me. It's not me trying to be something else or do something else. It's "me" to the point that it occasionally makes me (and probably you) uncomfortable because the content and subject are both, well, me--I have no "thing" to hide behind. I don't know how many times I've watched some of my earlier videos and felt the urge to wipe them all away. But I don't, because that was me back then, and self-preservation is sort of what I've grown to be about. Those videos are painful and awkward and outdated and just downright embarrassing, but they're me.

Perhaps "me" is my "thing." And when someone comes to my channel, that's what I want them to see and I just need to figure out how to do that. I'm a vlogger in the true sense of that word combination--a video blogger. My channel is my life in video form. However much my topics or content varies, it's me that's always gonna seep through.

I'm not making much sense anymore which tells me it's time to wrap this up. None of this probably matters anyway because I'm still sort of expecting that creepy girl from The Ring to emerge from my computer screen in ten days when the new layout rolls out. And she'll probably suck out my soul and leave my corpse behind with that horrible, open-mouthed expression like people get when they've been forced to stare at Joan Rivers' face for too long. Could that be a "thing"? Joan Rivers face-reaction videos? Hmm, I've got some thinking to do.