If you’ve ever met me, you probably know that I love all forms of storytelling. I love funny anecdotes, novels, and movies, and I especially love great advertising. In the past few years, what’s been amazing at pulling all these features together is YouTube. Vlogs and tutorials and music videos are all great kinds of content on YouTube, but the best content in my opinion is excellent storytelling. Even if the subject isn’t in my interest range, I’m willing to watch a video of a random scientific phenomenon or a BMW advertisement if it has a story that is told well.
Here are my two favorite YouTube channels, either of which you may have heard of. They’re not hidden gems (both have over a million subscribers), but they are content creators worthy of your Internet time.
Composed of siblings Hank and John Green, VlogBrothers was created back in 2007, making it one of the longest running video blogging channels. You may know Hank if you’ve ever needed biology help from CrashCourse or seen the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, and John if you’ve ever read young adult fiction (the movie adaption for his book Paper Towns came out this summer). They each have several channels, spanning across all interests, including FIFA, art, and growing up. I love VlogBrothers because it’s silly and fun, but simultaneously informative enough to teach me about what’s happening in the world. They’re unapologetically dorky in a world where being dorky isn’t always accepted, where it’s not typical to be excited about healthcare reform or the political state of Middle Eastern countries. Hank and John foster an amazing community, full of curiosity and insightful arguments. Together, they’ve created sustainable ventures like Project for Awesome (which raised over a million dollars in two days for Partners in Health) and VidCon (an annual convention in Anaheim, California that is the holy grail for YouTube). Even if you’ve already seen their CrashCourse videos or read The Fault in Our Stars, I urge you to check out their channel.
I’ve also always considered John and Hank to be some of the best role models out there. They start new paths, often unintentionally, in their attempts to make the world a better place. In a world where many are filled with either gloomy pessimism or blind optimism, the brothers find a way to have faith in people without discounting real issues. I applaud Hank’s enterprising business ideas and John’s enthusiasm about learning despite his less-than-stellar performance in high school. I think the ideals they put value in say so much about the kind of people they are, and give us a character that we should strive towards to be.
In the past year, Casey Neistat has made a name for himself online. He’s become friends with supermodel Karlie Kloss, shot ad campaigns for Nike, BMW and J. Crew, created several viral videos, and even launched his own social media platform, all without going to film school (or even finishing high school). Casey is brutally honest, innovative, and hands-on with everything he makes, discounting the mindset that a person needs the best resources or most extensive experience to create something amazing. Because he really doesn’t care what he looks like when he’s filming as long as he gets a quality shot, Casey is often praised for his indifference toward life’s useless worries, a trait his imminent success can be attributed to. Beme, the video sharing app he created, is a digitized version of everything he is- minimalistic in an almost rudimental way, yet engaging. The app doesn’t let you see while you record, and you can’t edit, save or replay these videos. People question the app for its intentional simplicity, but I commend it for achieving the core goal of social media – a platform to share authentically share your life.
Casey has acquired so much success in the past year, but I consider him to still be the same filmmaker he was back when he was a dishwasher, using just an old-school video camera and iMovie to produce his videos. I admire Casey because he’s cultured in the most authentic way possible, a trait evident through all of his videos. Whether he is in the Philippines to provide relief for typhoon victims or Nairobi to simply explore, he nevers takes the worn-down path of tourist attractions and sandy beaches while travelling. Casey’s greatest trait may just be his apathy towards what people think of him, as it has allowed him so much freedom to create and follow his passions. Yeah, he motivates people to share, question and execute ideas, but most of all, he reminds us to make life count.