The 'YouTube' Syndrome
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|   Jan 17, 2017
The 'YouTube' Syndrome

I have lately been grappling with a worrisome issue of sorts. Of course I acknowledge that perhaps what I find worrisome might be not be regarded as such with some. However here, I speak out as a parent of a teenager who is about to turn fifteen and as the aunt of another who is almost seventeen.

What you may ask is the issue? Well, I choose to call it the ‘You tube’ syndrome. The ‘YouTube’ syndrome arises from the need of youngsters these days to become a ‘You Tuber’. ‘You Tuber’ is a term that is used to address people who run a channel or upload videos on ‘You Tube’ which may or may not be famous. 

As we all are well aware, the youth of today thrives and blooms solely under the watchful eye of various social networking sites, apps and of course platforms like ‘YouTube’.

What most of us are not exactly aware of is that this has given a rise to a new career option in the minds of this same impressionable youth. Gone are the days of engineers, doctors and pilots. Gone are the days of fashion designers, architects and sadly even DJs. Now comes the age of the ‘You Tuber’.

It was a random mention by my niece that she wants a career as a ‘You Tuber’ that had the warning bells ringing wildly in my ears. Really? Is that like even a career? Surprisingly, upon research one realises that it very much is indeed a career. Conversely whether it is a profitable career or not is the more important question. This is of course a completely non-essential requirement on part of the youth. The young have always taken risks and take pride in their struggle. It isn’t till they hit their mid-thirties that they realise their wallets are empty and so will their stomachs be if they don’t earn soon enough. And oh yes, by that time, the willingness to struggle in the struggler has slowly waned and the reality of life’s harshness begins staring in the face.

Let me go back to what I really wanted to share here. Who exactly is a ‘You tuber’ or a ‘You tube celebrity?’

Simply put, a You Tube celebrity is someone who is akin to a movie star on the internet. This person creates videos of just about anything on earth and if he or she manages to influence people and get them to like and subscribe to their channels they begin making money via sponsored ads. And when I write here money, I mean like millions of dollars. Shocked? Well, when in doubt check out the Forbes list of the ten highest paid You Tube celebrities and you might decide on a career change yourself.

PewDiePie a.k.a Felix Kjellberg makes 15 million dollars! $$$$

Roman Atwood 8 million dollars

Lily Singh 7.5 million

Smosh 7 million

And the list goes on. Here’s where you can check it https://yourstory.com/2016/12/forbes-2016-youtube-celebrities/

Wikihow even has an article on ‘How to become a YouTube celebrity’. Sounds promising and helpful so here’s the link: http://www.wikihow.com/Become-a-YouTube-Celebrity

So here, you might pause and ask, what was the issue again?

I was getting there when the millions side-tracked me.

The issue that I have is simple. Becoming a ‘You Tuber’ when regarded as a serious career choice for the young is indeed a dubious choice. It is imperative to point out to our young that not all that glitters is gold. I know that’s a clichéd way to put it but let’s consider the following.

Just as not every star is a superstar or even a well-known star in the movies, similarly not every ‘You Tuber’ is a celebrity. By shooting videos of your likes, dislikes, make up tips, choice of clothes, parents, teachers, friends, chai-wala, bhel-wala, favourite joint and so on does not make you a celebrity. Just as there is competition and struggle in any profession, a ‘You Tuber’ also faces severe struggle and competition. It’s just not very obvious to the ‘You Tuber’ as it isn’t extremely hard-work to compile one more video and instantly upload it. It is in fact an addiction of sorts where the ‘You Tuber’ goaded on by the number of likes on his or her previous videos feels an irrepressible urge to upload one more video and garner more likes. When the likes drop, the ‘You Tuber’ undergoes a sense of loss, insecurity and even depression.

Some don’t even realise despite having spent years doing the same thing that getting a few thousand ‘likes’ on your ‘You Tube’ videos actually means nothing. It’s not productive. Kindly note here that I am referring to the videos uploaded by millions of teenagers on inane content that often makes no sense at all.

This brings me to the moot point. What exactly is happening to our youth? Is it that their need for affirmation, appreciation and acceptance is not being met through our traditional methods? Has social networking with the often inane and pointless ‘Like’ button stripping our youngsters of their inner confidence. Is the search to garner maximum ‘likes’ on their selfies actually a call for help?

I think it is. I think we as parents, as adults who are part of the complex society that we represent have missed the point. We can no longer claim there’s a generation gap for we have gone through similar emotions and bursts of anxious and irrational behaviour. We need to realise our youngsters need more of what we got. Where we took pride in simple appreciation by our parents and other members of our society, our youngsters need a complex network of appreciation.

How do you achieve this complex network of appreciation?

For starters we could get a bit more involved in our children’s lives from a young age. Would they want that? Absolutely not! (Some might even try to hunt me down for such a suggestion!) But we need to try. The tips I could give here are age old ones that you need to start implementing as early as possible.

Here’s one you should explore: http://www.yessafechoices.org/parents/tips-and-tools

I would also like to list out a few other appreciation tools that are in keeping with current times. Here’s how you can deal with your selfie obsessed or wannabe ‘You Tuber’. Do keep in mind here that completely rejecting your teen’s wish to become a ‘You Tuber’ might cause them to withdraw from you and do it on the sly. So it’s always better to meet their choice head on. Here’s how:

  1. Most teens and youngsters regularly upload their selfies on social networking sites. Here you can always click on the ‘Like’ button and if your child is comfortable then maybe even post a simple and yet appreciative comment like: “Looking good!” or “Great pic!” What you should avoid is: “Aww, my baby! So cute!” Let me tell you teens don’t post selfies to get a ‘cute’ comment. They post for a ‘Gorgeous, Awesome, Lovely or Fab!’ comment.
  2. If your teenage child has shown an interest in a hobby such as baking and wants to shoot a video on the same, help her do it. Your guidance will help her keep it looking sensible rather than jerky and full of awkward giggles. And that in turn is likely to gather her more ‘likes’ or appreciation from others.
  3. If your teenage son wants to shoot a video of his ‘rad’ new skateboarding skills, then appreciate his efforts and try not to hold your breath when you see his wild stunts on the video. It’s always a good idea to caution him beforehand about the downfalls of wild stunts; namely that if he injures himself he will land up spending a lot of time with you and not his friends. (This threat nearly always works :)
  4. Instead of sending silly images and gifs to your teen declaring your never-ending love to them on Whatsapp just to get their attention, send meaningful articles. It’s extremely easy to share and you can try and have a casual conversation later to gauge whether it was read by your teen. Choose articles that have simple language and are not overly preachy. Articles on safety, current affairs and even interesting places from around the world make for good choices.
  5. Ask their help around an app or something online. Most teens have inflated egos and when you ask them for help it makes them feel really important and needed. Remember to appreciate when the help has been tendered.
  6. Always aim to have a transparent relationship with your teen. Tell them, whenever they are around (and whether they want to hear about it or not) a bit of how your day passed by. Try and gauge their mood but obviously don’t overdo it. If done right, chances are your teen too might reveal something of his or her day. This is a form of mutual appreciation. Appreciation for sharing your thoughts and your day’s happenings with each other.

Always remember, teens and youngsters have passing phases. If you choose to nag, they might deliberately turn them into lasting choices.

All the best!

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