Friday, December 08, 2017

COLUMN: Youtubers

Good news, gang -- my quest to rule the world is back on!

As I've long established, my goals of writing this newspaper column have always been simple: (1) Win the hearts of America, (2) make gobs and gobs of money, (3) convince actress Katie Holmes to be my girlfriend, and (4) leverage my power and appeal to one day rule the world with a cold iron fist while you all do my evil bidding. That's not asking for too much, is it?

I figured it would be easy. As we all know, there's no easier, more stable, or better paying job than that of the modern journalist. Plus, journalists are simply adored by EVERYONE. In today's world of differing opinions and daily in-fighting, the one thing that everyone seems to agree on is just how awesome, trustworthy, and beloved today's mass media is. Am I right??

My course was set. Secure entry level job at local paper (check), beg and/or weasel my way into weekly humor column (check), put pen to paper and let the magic happen (check). Provided I did the math correctly, my next stop should be Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. Annnny minute now.

In short, global conquest is taking longer than expected. Good thing, then, that I've recently discovered an alternate path to fame and glory: my favoriteplace in the whole wide world wide web, Youtube.

As you probably know, Youtube allows users to upload or watch videos of user-created content. It's a rabbit hole of wonder you can explore for HOURS without getting bored. Want to see music videos from any band that's ever existed? Watch a movie trailer or laugh at some bloopers? How about creepy ghost stories or ridiculous conspiracy theories? Maybe you just want to watch wedding videos and home movies from an infinite number of strangers? Youtube's got it all.

Last year, I was dating a girl who had a teenage daughter. Every time I saw the kid, her head was buried in a phone or tablet. Finally I asked, "What game is she constantly playing?"

"Oh, she's not playing a game," I quickly learned. "She's watching Youtubers."

I knew it was happening, I just had no idea how popular it really was. Across the world, thousands of people have taken to uploading daily personal videos to Youtube. Some are funny, some are serious, some have a purpose and others are just pointless. But some of these frequent Youtubers have developed SERIOUS fanbases and some are making CRAZY amounts of money at it. Many now refer to their daily videos (aka "vlogs") as their CAREER.

Take Roman Atwood, for example. Roman is a 34-year-old husband and father of three from Ohio. He's also one of the most popular vloggers on Youtube. Almost every day, Atwood uploads a 15-minute video chronicling his day. Usually, it's just him hanging around his house and playing with his kids. As of this moment, yesterday's video has been watched 2,102,048 times. As I started writing this column, Roman's newest video just went live. In the time it's taken me to type these paragraphs, it's already been viewed 286,429 times.

Youtubers can get cash by monetizing their videos with ads, but in Atwood's case, it's allowed him to brand his catchphrase ("Smile More") and turn it into an online store where you can buy Smile More shirts, hats, and accessories. Atwood now has a staffed warehouse full of merchandise on his sprawling property next to his massive house, custom-built lake, and pet donkey. My general rule of thumb: If you have a pet donkey and your name ISN'T Mad Jack, you're earning too much money and need to give some to me.

But that's just the start of it. Atwood's a big fan of toys, and you can see him in his videos playing with everything from dirt bikes to RC cars. Only later did I realize that most of these toys are sent to him free from companies who want their products shown on his channel. Atwood is legitimately earning a decent living playing with toys. And he's just one of hundreds of daily vloggers getting internet famous as we speak. Clearly, I need in on this action.

There's just a few things going against me. I'm neither young nor hunky, and my best Bieber days are behind me. Throngs of young girls will NOT be eager to follow my every move. You also need to be relatively fearless, and I'm just WAY too self-conscious to film the ugly bits of my day. The odds of becoming internet famous for the WRONG reasons are super high. For every Roman Atwood, there's a "Chocolate Rain." For every Justin Bieber, there's a "Leave Britney Alone." No thanks.

Maybe fame and glory is overrated. Roman Atwood seems to live the ideal family life, but it's hard to miss the giant metal fence that runs around the entirety of his property. All you have to do is search Youtube for "Roman's house" to see the multitudes of videos filmed by his fans as they lurk around his property trying to catch a glimpse at his "ideal" life. Maybe I value privacy over fame, or at least that's the excuse I'll stick with until it happens. Maybe one day I'll be brave enough to broadcast my dorkiness in high definition. Until then, the printed word will have to suffice. I don't think you're missing much.

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