What do we do when life as we know it changes? Do we sit, wishing for the world to revert? Hoping that maybe the power of our desire for things to be easier will some how generate enough wish juice to change them back. It won’t. Or, at least, it hasn’t yet.
My views on YouTube as of late have been very low. I could go on and on about my glory days when my videos would reach that 301 mark (or 303 or 305, but let’s not argue semantics) in hours. I was by no means a “big” YouTuber. I never solely made my living making these videos, but I felt like I had an audience. I felt like there were people who cared what I had to say. It gave me confidence in real life. An ability to say “It doesn’t matter if you don’t like me. About 4,000 people care about me enough and like me enough to tune in to what I have to say every week.”
Then I took a break. And the medium changed. And people grew up. And some of them probably died (I can’t prove this). Either way, things changed. My videos no longer reached those it once did. And while some faces (usernames) remained the same, it forced me to look at why I make these videos.
I like to make people laugh. I like to entertain. I like to inform. I like to challenge people’s perspectives on life, and have mine challenged in return (granted the truths you’re trying to feed me are easy enough to swallow). I like to create. I like to refer to what I do as Societal Satire. There are aspects of our society I find ridiculous and hilarious and enjoy laughing at them. There are other aspects I find infuriating and repulsive, and I would like to laugh at those too. Laughing drops the blood pressure raised by grinding your teeth.
In a way, it feels like I’m starting over. YouTube is so oversaturated by people with more money than me, people who can buy your eyes, or are better with influential people than I am. I’m not at square one, but I’m at square two. I think it’s possible to climb back to where I was, and in a way it kind of excites me. They say good businessmen are the ones who can take a million dollars, go broke, and then climb their way back up time after time. I feel the same should be said about creatives.
I’ve never been worried that people will steal my ideas because they can’t execute them the way I can. If someone takes my idea for their own and tries to do it, they’re missing the most crucial part of the idea and that’s the vision behind it; something I hold onto exclusively and can’t transfer through words. Besides, as a creative I should be able to come up with a million other ideas, so the concept of “the one” is false.
My channel and ideas have gone through many transformations. From sketches, to man on the street videos, to Your Commercial Sucks, to this news thing I’m doing now, it’s been hard to settle on one thing; mostly because they get stale to me (or in the case of my man on the street videos, lack of inspiration). I would love to do them all, but YouTube videos are not a lucrative enough business at my level to hire the personnel needed to make that a reality. This is not complaining. This is explaining. Yes, they rhyme.
People ask me how to get big on YouTube and while the specifics have changed with the site, one core component remains the same: you have to love it. I do. I really do. And through loving it, you’re able to put the required man-hours into keeping up with consistent content and tweeting, and Facebooking and yes, even Google Plus-ing.
I was told back in 2008 when I was interning on The Colbert Report (name drop) that if I could see myself doing anything else I should do it. I should ditch this fever dream because it’s hard. It’s the hardest thing you’ll ever have to do. Well I gave up sugar for a week, so I think I can handle this. I can’t see myself doing anything else. I’ve tried. Those words that scared other people into politics, and law, and probably retail, didn’t work on me. They just let me know that I’m doing it right.
So what do we do when the world as we know it changes? We keep going. Comfort is temporary, but we found it in the first place. And just like the businessman who lost his millions, we’ve got to get it back. And if we sit and wish for our money back we’ll be broke forever, it’s only when we go after a new comfort, a new million dollars, that we find ourselves a new comfort.
It will take work (which is our generation’s four-letter word), it will take perseverance, and it will require some humbling. But if one semester of Greek Tragedy taught me anything (which there’s a good chance it didn’t) it’s that hubris has never been anything but the cause of someone’s downfall.
So, are we afraid of a little hard work? Yes. Terrified. But we’ve got to do it anyway.