Mobutu Sese Seko is a blogger and freelance copywriter and, as such, he is made of money. He supplements his income with assets embezzled from the nation of Zaire from 1965-1997. He last stopped by to talk to us about Gringo Star. You can read more of his political/pop-culture criticism and dick jokes at Et tu, Mr. Destructo? Mark Brendle writes for the same blog; his previous SA update concerned J.K. Rowling. You can follow him on Twitter.
First, you must accept the fact that there are people who refer to YouTube as a community, instead of a repository for digital videos. These people probably consider the wall of lettuces and vegetables at The Sizzler as a "salad community." You could credit this to humanity's tremendous ability to personalize and empathize with anything, but in this case, the impulse is probably selfishness.
Within the YouTube Community, April hosts a special event: VEDA (Vlog Every Day in April). During this event, vloggers attempt to upload something new daily, for as long as they can manage it. Arbitrary, unnecessary and absurdly lacking self-awareness, VEDA concentrates the efforts of an entire group of people in one month, allowing a casual viewer access to an intimate cross-section of personalities, from the bored and disaffected to the genuinely mentally ill. It's like National Novel Writing Month without a beginning or end, a plot, purpose or tangible result.
The very existence of VEDA prompts the question: Why vlog? Why do some people, mostly teens and young twentysomethings, feel compelled to share the banality of their day-to-day lives with the internet?
Some people liken vlogging to writing in a diary. Most vlogs begin "Hi, YouTube!" While this may share some formal similarities with the traditional "Dear diary," it stems from a wholly separate psychological impetus. A diary, above all, presents itself as a neutral, inanimate object. The address in "dear diary" functions as a minimal separation from the fact that one is writing to one's self. In the strictest sense, it eschews discovery. It is meant to not be read, which at least gives it the virtue of being a document in which you lie only to yourself.
Secondly, writing, as opposed to spontaneous speaking, demands some level of organization and coherence. As anyone who's started a blog and promised to write daily for even a month discovers to his acute dismay, putting words in some kind of narrative or critical order is work. There's a reason why it's an actual job, while "speaking for a maximum of ten minutes into the void, about no discernible topic and for no discernible goal" only counts as a sustainable occupation if you're doing it on a webcam while inserting things inside you for tokens. The obligations of the form that give weight to it, that demand struggle and labor, are what make it relatable. Writing orders things by its very nature. A diary may be as inane as a vlog, but the writing in a diary omits the anxious pauses, the uncertainty of articulation, the gaps in thought. Whereas when one watches a typical vlog, one directly confronts the failure of communication. Like the sounds of silence, it's talking without speaking.
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