I Know That I Don’t

Most people come to a point in their lives where they are no longer sure of who they are, what they want and what the future holds. I like to refer to it as the 20-something crisis; a more optimistic version of the mid-life crisis, during which people seem to forget “how to life” for a period of time. In spite of the fact that being unsure is a perfectly natural state of mind, our society is very unforgiving towards those who express reasonable doubt.

Not knowing what to do is somehow unacceptable in the 21st century. I mean, how can one NOT KNOW what they are striving towards? So many resources! So much support! So much good (although standardized) education! So when successful stockbroker Jordan’s teenage daughter comes home from school one day and says “Dad, I’m not sure what I want to study at college”, it is likely that she will receive the following answer: “Don’t be silly honey, you’ve always wanted to study finance!” (cheers to anyone who got the reference)

However, doubting earlier ideas is definitely not silly – it’s a sign of a healthy rational thought process. The problem lies in how we see the concept of knowledge itself, and how that affects the way in which we perceive the sentence “I don’t know”. Theoretically, knowledge is a very factual concept, based on information which can be tested for validity. We know that the earth revolves around the sun; that a year has 365 days; that plants photosynthesize and so on. So when we are unaware of certain facts, we perceive it as a gap in our knowledge.

But here’s the problem – not all knowledge is factual and unchanging (not to mention that “facts” often change throughout the years themselves). So what we think we “know” concerning who we are, what we want and what the future holds is, in fact, a vague idea. It’s okay to “not know”, because you never really knew in the first place anyway.

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Why Are YouTubers Making So Much Money?

Just a decade ago, many people viewed success in terms of career growth, striving to be lawyers, doctors, accountants and senior managers. Likewise, some people preferred working towards acquiring positions of fame in the entertainment/fashion/sports industries, all of which are very profitable. However, in this day and age, a growing percentage of the population is becoming interested in an online entertainment career – YouTube, to be precise.

If you’re anything like me, you may have grown up watching a couple of content creators on YouTube, after randomly stumbling during evening internet rendezvous. I remember being around the age of eleven or twelve, binge-watching channels like Shane Dawson, Smosh and Community Channel (aka Natalie Tran). I later moved on to watching several other channels, opting for more serious content as time went by. Now, at the age of 20, I’m subscribed to over 30 people who I watch on a regular basis, not to mention several other channels not included on my list. Although my life is significantly busier than it was ten years ago, I still find it oddly relaxing – not to mention informative – to watch these (very) different people talk about their lives, share their experiences, give advice, document events and even create short films.

The example above is one of the many reasons why YouTubers are getting such a large following. With the rise of digital media, things like television and radio have become much less popular – especially amongst the younger generation. More and more people are turning to the internet for entertainment, and YouTube seems the place to be. You can find pretty much anything on the site, including:

  • Tutorials
  • Lifestyle/daily vlogs
  • Advice videos
  • Travel series
  • “Storytimes”
  • Educational content
  • News reports (which often do a better job than official news corporations themselves – just check out Philip DeFranco)
  • Musical content and song covers
  • Comedy skits
  • Short films
  • Q/As

And those are just some of the more popular categories.

Although the website has been around since 2005, it grew in popularity over the last seven years. The main reason is that, aside from a wider range of content, creators were granted the opportunity to monetize their videos via Google AdSense. In short, Google would allow ads to be placed next to/before videos, splitting the ad revenue with the creator.

Speaking of creators, YouTube Entrepreneur Hank Green provides an excellent insight into how YouTubers make money in this brief, 8-minute summary:

As mentioned in the video, content creators have the follow options: ad revenue, merchandise, brand deals/sponsorships (i.e. promoting products in their video) and YouTube-funded shows, such as Crash Course. Considering that these people are becoming actual stars, there are also specific events such as VidCon and Playlist Live, dedicated to bringing together creators and viewers for a few days (not to mention other options such as individual tours and meet-and-greets).

With all of these options, more and more people are becoming interested in the prospect of becoming a content creator. Moreover, they are seeing these new channels grow from a couple hundred subscribers to over a million, become full-time YouTubers and earn ridiculous amounts of money (just Google “how much money do famous YouTubers make?” and you will be surprised at the range). However, just like with any popular industry, the website has become highly competitive. People are investing in professional cameras, learning how to use sophisticated editing software and working hard to make their content appealing. With such huge competition, and such a tempting income, becoming a content creator is both intimidating and desirable at the same time.

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Let’s Talk About Willpower

Willpower – something that stops us from lying in bed all day with our laptops, right?

It is no secret that the majority of people have certain mandatory responsibilities, whether it be work, university, school, children or even just grocery shopping. It is also no secret that the majority of people tend to feel lazy – some more than others. This is why humans are equipped with this mysterious magic weapon by the name of “willpower”.

Since willpower is intangible, it cannot be observed by the naked eye. Nonetheless, its consequences are always visible; the university student sighs, hits the off button on their alarm clock, gets up, makes coffee, gets into the shower and proceeds to crawl to their morning lecture. Although they don’t always want to hear about Macroeconomics at 9 am, they know it’s mandatory, so they gather all of their remaining willpower and go.

Based on the slightly odd description above, it can be concluded that willpower forces us to do the things we don’t want to do and stops us from doing the things we do want to do (Google seems to agree with me). However, I personally did not require any background analysis to understand the concept since I’ve been in an unstable relationship with my own willpower for the majority of my life.

They say that willpower is like a muscle – it can be trained. At first, it seems strange to refer to something intangible as a “muscle”, but this statement actually makes perfect sense. Let’s think about it; although the majority of people seem to have the basic level of willpower that forces them to complete mandatory tasks (except for that kid who has more fails than passes, or that one friend googling how much strippers make because “I’m done, I just can’t get up for work in the morning!”), there seem to be several levels to  this “invisible muscle”:

1) Willpower Base – forces us to do the most mandatory tasks, such as survival, education, work, looking after our children etc.

2) Trained Willpower – forces us to do the tasks that are not mandatory, but improve quality of life, such as exercising, following a (more or less) healthy diet, maintaining a good social circle, working on self-development through hobbies and interests etc.

3) Higher-Level Willpower – forces us to be in control of our feelings and emotions; gives us the ability to rule our minds by (almost instantly) dismissing negative thoughts and encouraging positive ones, allows us to drastically change what we don’t like about our personalities through repeated mental training.

Now, these three levels shouldn’t be taken as a confirmed theory; these are just my suggestions, and how I visualize the concept. What concerns my position; I suppose I’m still working on the second level. Although the third level is the most challenging, I believe it is easier to successfully transition from the second to the third rather than from the first to the second.

Last night, I decided to do that activity where you write down a list of your problems and then include a rational solution under each one. And you know what? I was somewhat amazed to see that all of my problems could be solved via stronger willpower. Don’t get me wrong; the concept itself isn’t going to eliminate all possible issues in one day, but it is a crucial element to completing the required steps of every solution. Since I don’t want this post to be personal, let’s consider a hypothetical example:

Jane weighs 95 kilograms (not a pseudonym – I’m 55). Although she is pretty heavy, she is not suffering from any health issues and her doctor told her that as long as she doesn’t gain any more weight, it is unlikely that any issues will arise in the near future. Therefore, it is not mandatory for her to lose weight. However, Jane is still unhappy; she feels unconfident in her skin, suffers from fatigue on a daily basis, and finds herself unable to walk up a flight of stairs without losing her breath. Now, if my hypothetical woman only possesses the first level of willpower, she will stay at her current weight, since all of the current problems related to it are not completely detrimental to her existence. However, if Jane masters the second level, it is likely that she will find herself 30 kilograms lighter by this time next year. Why? Because she will use that willpower to improve her diet, take part in regular exercises, make healthier choices and so on.

And you know what the funniest thing is? Getting to the second level isn’t hard. We’ve convinced ourselves into thinking that training our willpower is unpleasant and difficult, but it really shouldn’t be when considered from a step-by-step perspective. Going back to my example, it seems much harder to make lifestyle changes that will allow one to dr

I don’t know about you, but this seems pretty mind-blowing. I mean, think about how many people would achieve their goals via stronger willpower by taking it one step at a time instead of considering them on a grander scale. Doing a bit of extra math every day instead of constantly reminding yourself that you need an A by the end of the semester is more likely to get you that A, because now you are less overwhelmed. Willpower training is just like a good work-out: if you view it as a chore, yet expect outstanding results, you’re not going to get anywhere. I know it sounds cliché, but (for the most part), we are in control of achieving whatever we want; the only thing to remember is that we should learn how to channel our willpower in the right way.

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