Tobold's Blog
Monday, August 12, 2019
Tobold on YouTube?

mbp asked the interesting question "Could you ever see yourself starting a Youtube channel?" and I think the answer is long enough to justify its own blog post. Unless you just want the short answer, which is "No!".

In real life a lot of communication in non-verbal. How other people perceive you depends a lot on your looks, your body language, your verbal tone, and some other factors. While the 7% rule is probably overstating this, the influence of non-verbal elements on popularity is undeniable. With a blog you get around that; as long as the design isn't too off-putting, people only see the words, so that is all they have to judge the content. On YouTube you can't avoid verbal tone, and most YouTube content creators also show themselves, opening up a can of worms of judgment of your looks and body language. Disguising yourself as somebody young and attractive doesn't always work. But if I would put the real me on YouTube, I don't think I would have much success. I'm in my mid-50's, have just an average face, and I speak with a noticeable German accent.

Now if you are an idealist, you will probably say that this doesn't or shouldn't matter. In the real world it unfortunately does. Look at the most successful content creators, they are often young and attractive. I recently searched on YouTube for videos on 3D printing, and I stumbled upon a young Chinese lady who had accumulated a sizable subscriber base by doing her tech unboxing videos in a rather skimpy outfit. Believe me, nobody wants to see me in a skimpy outfit. :)

The other problem of a YouTube channel is identity. I have two identities on the internet. One with my real name, which I use on sites like LinkedIn, and where people searching for my name can find my scientific publications, my patents, and other work-related stuff. The other identity is the Tobold one, which is about games and other private interests, like 3D printing. While it isn't impossible to find out my real name, because I haven't gone to great lengths to hide it, the separation of the two identities is good enough for a regular Google search, which is all I am trying to achieve with it. I want my professional contacts to find my professional information, and my game contacts to find my game information. While I don't mind any more about colleagues finding out that I am also a gamer, I don't want a professional acquaintance to have that of me as first impression. Putting my own face on YouTube would link my two identities more than I would care for.

The final reason for me not being interested in starting a YouTube channel is that it requires more effort than typing to do it well. You can see the difference in quality between a YouTube channel with lots of subscribers and a YouTube channel nobody watches. You can't just turn on your laptop webcam and microphone and start blurting out content, you need better equipment, and decent skills in video cutting and editing. That is more effort than I am willing to put in these days, especially since I don't have a strong focus on a single theme anymore.

So, no, I don't think I'll ever start a YouTube channel. I feel more at ease with the written word. And I don't think I would have as much success as my blog once had if I switched to a different medium.

Some content does not fit YouTube. YouTube is not the place for it. You are doing the right thing. It would be a lot of work to make a good video out of philosophical text or random thoughts about games, Dungeons and Dragons. And it takes time to learn how to make a good video.
Yep, totally agree with your reasoning. I honestly can't stand going to YouTube for tabletop content unless it's very specific (I will watch a straight forward review/unboxing, for example) but most YouTube content is "let's play" sessions or whatever which I find are extremely scripted/fabricated and rarely convey any useful info on the rules....and the more organic ones are essentially unwatchable because they are not scripted/designed specifically for the YouTube audience.

Unfortunately I am watching my son's generation (the under 18 crowd) grow up with youtube defining their perception of what it means to have a presence online....every single one of them wants to be a YouTube star. This post-Millennial Gen Z is going to have some serious problems as they hit adulthood.
Thank you for the lengthy reply Tobold. My own thoughts on vlogging are pretty much aligned to you own with one possible exception. I think that if I was retired I would like to experiment with the format. I have no expectations that many people would be interested in watching an elderly man talk about gaming or anything else but for me it would be a creative outlet. Retirement would solve the conflict between "professional persona" and "hobby persona" that I also empathise with. Also I find that as I get older I care a lot less about what people think of my appearance. The only problem is that it will probably be ten years before I retire and at that stage the world will probably have moved on to something completely different.
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