Vlogs – What Are They Good For?

Absolutley nothing, according to Dr Rage anyway. Mikey digs deep on the solo style ‘filmmaking’ to answer the question, what even is a vlog?

What is a vlog? – Well, it’s a video blog or video log, usually shortened to vlog, is a form of blog for which the medium is video, and is a form of web television, of which the noun is vlogger and someone who posts regularly to an online channel.  It’s a terrible word and description.

You can search the term online, but in the interest of quickness I can provide you with some of the popular definitions of “vlogger” here:

* A person who records them self-talking about their life and uploads it to various video sites. (Video Blog) Matti decided he had no talent, so he became a Vlogger.

* A talentless person that has gained fame for showing how they live their lives, (for some they just show how rich they are) the vlogger will often use clickbait to trick us into their boring content.

Of course, this is the opinion of those who submit entries to the “Urban Dictionary” but that doesn’t make them any less valid and I am aware how paradoxical that would all sound, as I have, myself, recoded a “video log” of my musings; but I would rather it be known as something else.  I’m not a video diary type of person and it would be too direct to camera to be a documentary, but it DOES have a documentary narrative to it: using pictures or interviews with people involved in real events to provide a factual report on a particular subject…. I’m a real person and “vlogging” is the subject.

But I digress!  

The point of this is to point out a glaring fact amongst the creator community, especially those who do “tip videos” and they fall in to, two, distinct and separate areas.  The first is the “informative crew”: these are the folks who provide a valuable insight in to their craft, hobby, occupation, trade, profession and or vocation…from Myrmecology to movies, video to vexillology……it can be a rewarding watch if you know nothing of the subject or are as equally as gifted in its knowledge, the education and learning that goes in to it from teacher to pupil is something we should be proud of in this digital era; type in a job and you can probably learn it online; amazing!  I bet you’ve googled or will do, Myrmecology and vexillology, right?  Ah you can find it out for yourself and prove my point right about research.

Here’s Mikey… Not Vlogging

The second tier of informational wizards are what I refer to as the “self-evident squad” and are invariably made up of this ever increasing community of creators who pick a topical subject of the moment and release a video on it, in a bid to secure positive response, increased subscribers, comments, likes and all the other gold that is mined from having a channel online and is the main reason I wanted to talk about it.  If you’ve NEVER spoke to a camera before, but, have the intention of parting with some knowledge, then I am willing to bet you know EXACTLY how to vlog or how to be in one.  If you don’t and haven’t been privy to the recent rise in online channel based, celebrities, then surely, they you seen the news or the weather or ANYTHING on TV…for it is basically the same thing.  I mean it, any fictional based story or movie is people telling a story to other people while the camera (you) watches on to get to the end of said story in an emotional and equitable manner that will leave you enraged or elated.  Factual entertainment, documentaries or the home shopping channel is mainly a presenter talking to the camera (you) about a subject to enlighten and inform you of its place in the cosmos and how it may or may not have an impact on your life…sounds familiar right; so when you watch a video online about Dave (made up for the purposes of this video) who tells you how he manages to survive on the tropical island of the Maldives with 150 Rufiyaa a week ($10 to you and me or £8 sterling, thus showing my point about research) this is A narrative or story. an account of a series of related events, experiences, or the like found in all forms of human creativity, art, and entertainment, including speech, literature, theatre, music and song, comics, journalism, film, television and video, video games, radio, gameplay, unstructured recreation, and performance in general, as well as some painting, sculpture, drawing, photography and other visual arts, as long as a sequence of events is presented. 

Several art movements, such as modern art, refuse the narrative in favour of the abstract and conceptual, but what I’m driving at is that Dave’s story, in the grand scheme of things, is no different to the Blue Planet documentary by David Attenborough….in structure!  Before there is any backlash, I can confirm that Blue Planet is where Sir David Attenborough narrates this critically acclaimed series that dives deep into the marine environment of Planet Earth and while two-thirds of the world’s surface is covered with water, scientists know less about the oceans than they do about the surface of the moon.  Dave’s story is just shit!

Now I’m not doing this to out anyone…well maybe I am but I won’t name names, I’m sure there are multiple offenders out there, but I was motivated recently by a video I saw about “how to vlog with a phone” and was dumbfounded at how self-evident it all is and that it needed a video at all; let alone a collaborative effort on it.  But surely NOBODY needs tips how to talk on camera; the principles that is, not those actual motions of “opening your mouth and saying stuff whilst it is recorded on a fangled device”.

Techniques, perhaps how to conduct oneself, speak in public…these are tips.  Something that explains human limitations, fears, apprehensions and how to get past them…these are tips.  But explaining the workings of the device that, by the video’s own admission, EVERYONE HAS, doesn’t really need any explaining, unless like the technique, you explain handy tips on how to hold it, turn it on, get it going…. those tips aren’t necessarily for owners of phones to shoot video….eh? eh? Yeah, you know what I mean.

Now I am aware of how contradictory this could be perceived.  Ironic that I would write a piece about human conditioning, via the medium that conditions us all daily, about a subject I’m engaged in, but I feel as if this is more of an obvious look at things that, recently, is seen as taboo in the online world…. telling it like it is and allowing the freedom to speak out about all things. The important and the benign alike, but if it is thorough and said with effect, passion, and fact then it can’t be dismissed; it can be argued with, which I’m totally fine with, if said argument has foundation and substance and isn’t a shaking of the head with fingers firmly placed in the ears.  But I like it, poking a bit of fun at the social construct and how others are enveloped into it or are pushed away from it.

So, in the interest of human conditioning, setting myself apart from the rest, here are my tips on being a vlogger or a documentary filmmaker; don’t let the vernacular of the YouTube young team make you feel uncomfortable with using these terms; I hate the word Vlogger or Vlog, it’s just a portmanteau that is deemed to be clever and socially acceptable to an age or group.  You can call it whatever you want in relation to the task.  It is documentary, by video a visually recorded narration of story and is a form of passing information to a wider audience…a digital teacher if you will, unless your content isn’t to teach but to show and inform of a social activity, hobby or thoughts and musings that are of you own style, opinion and veritas

1. Don’t vlog. – Talk to the camera, yes.  Establish a narrative and explain what you are doing, yes.  Do those things as you would talk to a friend, family member or a stranger; not as a self-help guru who clearly needs the help more.

2. Don’t advise. – Explain, extrapolate, delve into a subject, item or issue with intrigue and questions which back it up with an opinion (based on fact) not your understanding of it, wrapped off as the truth.

3. Do what you want. – Don’t worry about what other people think. (Those people don’t do it very often)

The last one is important, because, if you’ve made it this far then I applaud thee and commend you on your staying power.  However, I am doing exactly that…I’m doing what I want…this is what I wanted to do, and I know a certain section of people won’t resonate with this message, but others will.  In fact, all 3 of those tips are relative throughout this writing and no video was harmed in the writing of it.

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