Who watches the watcher?
Even if you’re one of those rare people who hasn’t yet succumbed to the nagging tug of social media and Internet entertainment, you probably follow, watch, or frequent at least one vlog or blog. If not, you write/film one. (Or you’ve thought about it.)
Put your finger on the pulse of modern media and you’ll feel the blood streaming toward online, mostly free content. Blogs and vlogs are addicting. They give us what we’ve always wanted but could never seek except through the civilized peephole of cyberspace: a backstage pass into other people’s worlds.
The blood doesn’t just flow here, it gushes in an ever-growing platelet count of over-night celebrities and daily lifestyle moguls.
Whether they’re mundane or shocking, blogs and their video counterparts drive our culture. They let us in on the daily workings and inner thoughts of strangers. We observe people traveling through Italy, taking their dog to the vet, witnessing a share-worthy sunset … we see it all and we’re generally loyal to those who consistently make the time to let us in.
We watch them prank, cry, laugh, rant, pontificate, consider, review, and opine on the handpicked moments of their realities.
But what are we really seeing? What are we really reading? Why do we do it? Why are some people better at it than others?
Twisted or Nah? Blog/Vlog Case Studies
Case Study #1:
There are a couple of YA author blogs that I’ve followed for years and years without fail. Almost daily, I check in to see if there’s a new post for me to skim through. It doesn’t have to rock my world, but it keeps me connected to them intravenously through the eye-numbing pixels of my laptop.
Case Study #2:
I am one of the millions of faceless viewers who watch Casey Neistat’s daily vlog. He recently went on a short ‘break’ from vlogs (luckily he’s back now). When I couldn’t wake up to his sometimes inane, sometimes poignant, always visually stunning videos anymore, I was distraught.
When he’s late on posting by a few hours, I get that addict’s twinge of distress. It’s a conscious emotional response, as if he owes it to me personally to provide a continuous stream of entertainment. Show me your life and I’ll make you a star.
The Art of the Innocent Creep
You don’t need a psychology degree to see that something unique is happening in blog/vlog culture. All you need is a sense of humor and a willingness to acknowledge the voyeuristic tone of digital content. Of us.
We’re all a little creepy. It’s part of why I’ve struggled in the past to continuously post or maintain an online presence beyond the work I do for others. The not-knowing of who is reading, why they’re reading, and what they think about what they’re reading is a black hole of reasons not to make public what I think and feel.
What’s the point? What’s the point or inherent value of other people reading what I write?
The other side of the computer screen gobbles up my content and then leaves me with little to no feedback. It’s a gateway drug to an inflated ego.
It’s also a treasure trove of meaning and monetary value.
Rules of the Game
There are 3 rules to b/vlog-ing (high-quality technique is not one of them):
I don’t mean honest like true or factual. I mean personal and willing to “bare your soul” whether what you’re baring is a picture of your breakfast or a how-to guide on rocket launches.
Information sells. That’s why businesses are practically required now to have a blog attached to their site. We’re begging for the next thing to catch our attention.
It’s surreal to make yourself vulnerable to readers/watchers. Someone is watching. Someone is reading. Someone is spending their precious seconds to be the nameless, voiceless data point behind an analytics ‘view.’