Say it with me: burn-out
We might not all have millions of subscribers on YouTube but we’re tied by a common thread: burn-out.
After 10 years of continuous uploads, 30-year-old Swedish gamer Felix Kjellberg a.k.a PewDiePie took a 30-day hiatus from the video-sharing platform at the beginning of the year. In the process, he also wiped out his twitter account. He has 103 million subscribers from his widely popular video game commentaries. The controversial media star explains in a video, “I'm taking a break from YouTube next year. I wanted to say it in advance because I made up my mind. I'm tired. I'm feeling very tired. I don't know if you can tell.”
It may be the work itself but also the attention that comes with being in the spotlight for years. It also comes amid accusations of racist and antisemitic remarks from the star. His breather may have been short lived but in this digital age—when numbers are currency and persistent uploading guarantees one’s “influence” among his or her peers—unplugging is utterly necessary. It doesn’t help that the algorithm “punishes” creators for taking a break.
Some YouTube elites have followed suit. Linus Sebastian of Linus Tech Tips posted a video upon hitting 10 million subscribers on the possibility of retiring after a decade of doing videos. He shared, “For some reason I have felt this immense pressure around the 10 million subscriber milestone… The truth is, I’ve been thinking about retiring for some time now.” CallMeCarson on YouTube is doing the same to protect his mental health. He posted in a viral tweet, “This has been a difficult decision, but after considering some recent personal events and my own mental health, I’ve decided I need to take a moment to step away. Going to focus on making myself a better person. Thank you for your support… Right now I’m in no way mature enough to handle the responsibility of this job.”
After stepping away from the spotlight for a short while, PewDiePie returned and produced more entertaining videos. He shared in a video, “Technically I wouldn't have to come back. I could retire if I wanted to. It was good for me to take a break, to sort of process what I'm doing, and what I want to do in the future. And there [are] definitely some changes I will have to do with the channel, but I'll do them gradually.” He added, “I've been obsessing too much about YouTube, and pushing myself way too hard for too long. There [are] other stuff I want to do. I'm working on bigger projects as well. Although I have been missing it a lot!” He ended by saying how “healthy and good” the break for him was.
This may be about a single creator but it is telling of the state of YouTube nowadays, where churning out content non-stop is a full-time job with plenty of competition—and little job security. This may elicit criticism from many but “living the dream” is challenging to empathize with, when you’re not in the position.
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver