date night with a bag of pretzel sticks, a jar of peanut butter, and my one true love
Hey there…let’s talk.
I’ve spent the last seven years having lots of people know who I am and say nice things about me and watch me every week on YouTube. I’ve played Carnegie Hall and started my own convention and LOTS of people have watched my videos. LOTS…just a VERY LOT!
But I’ve never felt famous…but then…how would I know if I felt famous? I don’t know what it feels like to be famous…is it pleasant? Is it terrifying? Is it a feeling of success or power? I don’t think you know unless you know…y’know?
But in the last couple of weeks I’ve felt a little bit famous, and I kinda hate it. Here’s what I think it is:
People appreciating me for my existence, not for my creations. Just the mere fact of me is enough to make people want to get my picture. Really it’s when people who haven’t watched a bunch of Vlogbrothers videos want to get a picture just because they know I’m the kind of person you should get a picture with…that’s what makes me feel “famous” and it’s not a feeling I particularly like.
There’s also a bit of a conversion to my self as public property. Like, if you’re known by enough people, you eventually become (in a weird way) publicly owned. People are free to talk about you in the tabloids. What I might consider private time, like walking my dog or eating dinner or being in a public bathroom stops being private because it’s public and I’m public. I don’t begrudge people for coming up to me while I’m doing those things (well, if I’m having a fancy dinner with my wife and you come up for a photo…I begrudge that a little) but mostly it’s just wonderful to be appreciated.
Let’s get this out of the way as well…
I LOVE being appreciated for things I’m proud of. I make a thing…I like it…other people like it…they tell me they like it. That’s like, THE. FUCKING. BEST. THING.
But here’s what I think happens. I think you start getting famous and you stop sharing what your life is like out of fear that people won’t understand. They’ll think you ungrateful for the success and importance that they have literally granted to you. You deal with the most first world of all first world problems (i.e. not how to pay for traveling the world, but how to avoid traveling the world /too much/.)
Let’s be honest, I don’t have to worry about money anymore…on the other hand I do have to worry about making sure I can pay the 22 people who work for me so that they can continue feeding their families and stuff. That’s not a problem that I feel like a lot of people can identify with. It’s a thing that stresses me out but maybe seems like “Well, whatever douche-pants, when was the last time you had to worry about putting food on the table.” And, yeah, that internal voice is /totally right./
But then do I look for other business-running people and only talk to them? Do I narrow my audience to just a few select people who do have direct experience?
Does there come a time where I can no longer be honest about my life? When I become extremely difficult to relate to because all of my problems are CEO problems and not real-person problems? And, when that happens, does the prophecy come true…do I just become a famous person? Appreciated not for what he does but just because he is?
Do I just get used to keeping secrets? So used to it that maybe I make easy decisions that aren’t in concert with the values of Nerdfighteria instead of the hard decisions that are? Do I just become complicit in the secrecy of American corporate culture? Do I just become part of that culture?! UHGHGHGHGHGGGHHHHHH
I want to avoid that SO FUCKING BAD! That’s why I’m writing this.
I have four separate businesses, and when an employee from one needs to do work for another we set up a contract between the two different companies so one company can pay the other company for that person’s time. If we didn’t do that the government would yell at us for having an employee that doesn’t work for a company doing work for that company. That’s some of the weird shit I have to deal with that, like, no one fucking cares about. And I don’t expect you to care about it! It’s esoteric and boring and morally uncomplicated!
But maybe I do just have to tell you “Hey, check out this stupid shit I have to deal with…how dumb is that, right?” because otherwise, I’ll stop sharing things because I don’t feel like you’ll care or you’ll think I’m uncool because it’s so corporate and bullshitty and full of the ultimate in first world problems. But if I stop sharing…if I stop being open about my life, I am afraid I’ll stop being a person. And that terrifies me…so please
Don’t let me stop being a person.
It’s mostly up to me, of course. And lots of people aren’t going to be reached by this kind of communication. But what’s important is that Nerdfighters don’t stop seeing me as a person. I don’t care if I’m famous…I care if I lose that connection to this community because, without it, I will feel like less of a human being. I will have lost something that is extremely important to me. Thank you all for allowing that connection in the first place.
I’m gonna go eat some cake now.
Yesterday I was standing in John’s office in Indianapolis, getting a quick tour of the other side of Nerdfighteria I’d never seen before. Inside of the door were two large white boxes from the post office overflowing with fan letters. The studio in itself was really surreal because each set is in the same room (so, like, Mental_Floss is in the corner across from the white Crash Course drop and in-between is Healthcare Triage) - but the most surreal thing was seeing John’s office. It had some artwork on the walls.. It was cluttered. There were Diet Dr. Pepper cans everywhere, and copies of The Fault in our Stars scattered about. There was an small bookshelf of copies printed in a multitude of languages with varying artwork, but for the most part I saw the white, blue and black clouds everywhere.
I thought about all that these two brothers have accomplished, everything they’ve afforded me in the last year and a half. I thought about playing games at Hank’s house and was hit with a pang of nostalgia. I imagined at that moment John was probably on some red carpet somewhere, deservedly accepting the accolades for a job really well done. And I wondered for a moment if this could be real, solidly placed in reality, and for a moment I was in doubt. Then I noticed a granola bar wrapper shoved into the side of the couch between the cushion and the armrest.
It was the most refreshing thing to see.
thisbravenew-world said: re: the YT ads--I think they might be tailored to your viewing habits, because I see vastly different channels in my ads (primarily from LGBT YouTubers, come to think of it, & sometimes Karen Kavett). but I definitely agree that YT needs to diversify their advertisements & show a wider range of channels to each user, because now I just want to avoid everything by Arielle Scarcella and Joseph Birdsong for the rest of my life.
The previous comment was about major city-wide campaigns in New York and Chicago which include billboards, posters/flyers in subways and trains, videos screening in train stations… literally everywhere you turn and look are ads for these three channels.