Did YouTubers Kill the Literary Star?
Old Man Reading by Vincent Van Gough -1882
Read any good books lately? Strike that. Let me rephrase. Seen any good YouTubers lately? I am still reading good books, of course, but not at the pace I did 10 years ago. Books with a front and back cover that is. I am a sampling of one yet it is an important sample. To me. My current read is a true crime story – Chicago’s Luetgert Murder Case of 1897, called Alchemy of Bones. So far, so good. I preordered On Java Road by Lawrence Osborne on Audible.com, which will not be delivered until this summer. I will be listening rather than reading Osborne’s welcoming words because that seems a lot more efficient to do so these days. There are plenty of unread novels and books lying around my home in tsundoku piles and peering over my shoulder from my bookcase, vying for my attention too.
What is going on here I ask? Lots of things of course, some of them even good. One of those things is YouTube. Ted Talks is another (there’s an app for that.) So enough about books and their past, present, and future usages, along with their inherent pros and cons, lets talk about YouTube and the offspring that it created, YouTubers with their own individual YouTube channel.
Lest we forget, YouTube came into existence in February 2005 and was gobbled up by Google in under two years. Imagine, if you will, my first few years as an expat living in Thailand. There was no YouTube nor was there any Facebook. Does that make me an Old Asia Hand? I am not so sure, but I do feel like an Old Man Reading when I read a book outdoors as I often do.
Watching YouTube videos is an indoor activity mostly and I notice my viewing is now split about 50/50 between my PC screen and my Google TV. And because I always liked Yogi Berra I’d say I spend another 15% of my screen time watching YouTube videos on my phone. Everyone has dumb habits – my Smart phone is one of mine. Just as there is junk food there is junk time and I admit I could use some calorie restriction when it comes to my phone consumption. Life is short and then you die after all.
Just as a generation and two ago there were expat writers who wrote about Thailand and Southeast Asia there are now many expat YouTubers that have channels with exclusive content in some cases and rehashed content in other cases. They have one thing in common – they are all first gen YouTubers. What will the 2nd generation bring or compete with besides Meta?
What have I learned about these YouTubers? I think some are a lot better than others, of course, and the successful ones work hard at getting and keeping subscribers. There seems to be a genuine interest in monetizing YouTube to make it a revenue stream (much more so than the expat writers I have known, with a few notable exceptions). This takes a lot of time to accomplish and while some YouTubers might have been good at catching a wave – Maru the Japanese cat gets millions of views per video as one example (I just Googled that to find out. Learn something new every day.) – most seem to put in the time, work and effort one would put into any job. Good on them; it’s not a bad job by all appearances. I take a mostly neutral to positive view on YouTubers. You reap what you sow and some YouTubers reap some pretty hefty rewards.
Without further meandering and time killing on my part I will now recommend some of my favorite Thailand expat YouTubers where you too can kill time and possibly even learn a thing or three. What all of these YouTubers have in common is an interesting back story in their own life, which mostly occurred before YouTube or at least before their YouTube channel existed. Put another way, if you want to tell interesting stories on YouTube it helps if the teller of the tale is also interesting. I think these guys and gals are. Have a look see for yourself and see if you agree:
LIVING IN BAMBOO
The Naked Guru YouTuber recently did a rebrand. The literally and figuratively down to earth couple are now known as Living in Bamboo. The videos of Ryan and his wife and child are all about living in rural Thailand and living a good life they do. His channel has over 47,000 subscribers and he should hit 50,000 soon with the quality of his content. This saxophone playing guru and former Hua Hin jazz club owner has an interesting perspective on life and living in nature. Country folk and city dwellers alike should appreciate his mellow attitude and vibe.
RETIRED WORKING FOR YOU
Retired Working for You is run by a Canadian, Chris, who made his pre YouTube fortune by being on the forefront of the conversion to digital film in Hollywood and elsewhere. If timing is everything Chris has everything and he shares a lot of it with the people of Thailand, which is to be commended. Chris has two goals for his channel: 1. Offer fun + informative videos from Bangkok and other parts of Thailand. 2. Create a growing community of people who inspire one another to live life to the fullest.
Chris has an infectious enthusiasm for Thailand and provides a lot of good information. His subscribers number over 225,000. He is a lucky guy and a good example of how the harder he worked the luckier he got. Plus he drives an electric scooter. Check him out.
Bangkok Pat is an interesting cat. He has grown on me as he has grown his channel over all. Pat is now nearing 15,000 subscribers and I think the reasons are he always does his homework and his editing and captions are top notch. Pat must burn through shoes like an L.A. Private detective in the 1950s – he does a lot of walking and the spots he walks through are not always typical. In some ways Pat gets out and about so you don’t have to or better yet, he will motivate you to follow in his footsteps. Pat is an urban explorer and a good one. He describes his channel as, “Guides to different parts of urban Bangkok. Real life in Thailand History, nostalgia Documentaries.” He admits to having a bit of a scoundrel in him but everyone loves a scoundrel so it only adds to his commentary. Pat is one half Thai on his mother’s side and was raised in England. His dual citizenship gives him that rare thing for a YouTuber going after a farang audience, a Thai identification card. A good channel well worth checking out. I chose one he did on my neighborhood in Bangkok to display here.
Chuck and his wife Paige are prolific YouTubers. Their notime2bsad channel has over 20 million views and over 65,000 subscribers. Chuck is a spontaneous guy and has a history of hard work in the USA including successful stints at what he calls “turning wrenches”. A former military guy that I do not really need or want to know what his politics are because his values and actions are admirable and that’s what really matters. This video is not at all typical in that Chuck and Paige are mostly absent from it. But it does give you an inside look at what a Thai New Year celebration looks like outside of Bangkok. It’s a much more traditional look at how celebrations used to be and in many places still are. Posted just 12 hours ago and likely shot yesterday. Chuck is a nice combination of optimist and realist and that comes across in his channel.
Thairish Times is another husband and wife production featuring mostly Pete, from Ireland originally and his Thai wife Nune makes appearances as well. Pete is a relative newcomer to the YouTuber scene but he is already approaching 14,000 subscribers and his channel has been viewed over 1 million times. Pete runs the type of blog I find interesting and would probably imitate it if he hadn’t already beaten me to the punch. Pete’s specialty has become the interview of interesting people living throughout Thailand. Pete is someone the now mostly forgotten writer Henry Miller would have liked. It was Miller’s quote that inspired me to form this blog nine years ago today: “Develop an interest in life as you see it; the people, things, literature, music – the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself.”― Henry Miller. And that is exactly what Pete does. He forgets about himself when he needs to and lets the people he is interviewing tell their story. If you want to know “what’s the story” in Thailand, Pete’s channel is a good place to start. If I have one nit with Pete it is I sometimes feel he is chasing the story that will get the most views, which is not always the most interesting story. YouTubers seem to understand the dilemma that they are have. More views mean more subscribers and subscribers seem to be the goal for a lot of YouTubers in 2022. I wish Pete and all the YouTubers the best of luck. As Bob Dylan wrote in 1961, “The times they are a changin'”. That was true then and it certainly is still true now.
Happy Songkran from Thailand Footprint. It’s been a fun nine year run. My plan is to retire this frog in the coconut shell blog in one more year. An even ten years. Until then have a great 2565, watch this space when you are not watching YouTube or doing walkabouts of your own or Buddha forbid, watching videos of Maru the Japanese cat on your phone.
Stickman with Selfie Stick – 2022
2 Responses to “Did YouTubers Kill the Literary Star?”
Good read, as always Kevin.
For me, Youtube started as music platform where I could find my old favorites.
These days, I only use Youtube to watch instructional videos as how to change a battery in my laptop, add RAM to my desktop, etc.
For pure entertainment, I prefer the various streaming platforms.
I have missed your activity here Kevin, and I am very glad you are back again.
Thanks Kai. I agree about the instructional videos. Very handy!