As I have mentioned in a previous post, I have been watching Brotherhood 2.0/The Vlog Brothers videos from the beginning to catch up with all the Nerdfighting I have missed. As classes have barely started, and I am unemployed, skint, and have no life, I have put a significant dent in the backlog – the vlog started in 2007 and I’m already up to 2011.
For those of you who may not know, the Vlog Brothers is a vlog (video blog) series on YouTube featuring the author John Green and his brother Hank, a noted environmental blogger. It began as a dare: John challenged Hank to go an entire year without using any sort of communication outside of telephone and these short videos to each other. And so it went. There were rules – absolutely no electronic communications (of course), and videos can’t be more than four minutes – and any violations were punishable. It started small, but with every new in-joke, and each creatively torturous punishment (once John had to wax his chin) the videos gained momentum. As their viewership grew, so did their content. They gave each other challenges that took on lives of their own: Challenging themselves to find a way to help make the world a better place led to The Foundation to Decrease Worldsuck, which has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for a variety of worthy causes. After Hank performed a song called “Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone From Your Pants” (based on the first big in-joke of the vlog), John challenged him to write a new song and perform it each time he posted on a Wednesday, leading to the creation of the tremendously popular song “Accio Deathly Hallows”, live performances, touring (with and without John), CDs and a record label – DFTBA Records, which produces music by YouTube musicians. This thing has grown so huge it’s unreal. Charities, record labels, websites – they even created VidCon. DFTBA, their catchphrase, has taken off and is now in the popular vernacular. Don’t Forget To Be Awesome indeed.
The best part of all of this is that everything they do is entirely community oriented. Their followers are known as Nerdfighters. As the series grew, and they realized how great their Nerdfighters were, they made the videos more and more interactive. Nerdfighters are first to note violations of rules, and are the ones who get to suggest the punishments. They donate money and time, they volunteer, and they have formed this massive, open collective online and IRL (in real life). What Nerdfighters have done over the years is simply amazing, and it’s truly changed the way people see the internet.
And the Vlog Brothers community doesn’t just include the Nerdfighters (although, technically it does, since we’re all Nerdfighters, really), but also YouTube. They have reached out and befriended other vloggers and really advocate for the potential of such connections. In December they have an event where they encourage all their fellow bloggers and Nerdfighters to make videos advocating on behalf of their favorite charities. This day is called the ‘Project for Awesome’, and the goal is to hijack the front page of YouTube with videos, each different, but each with the ‘Project for Awesome’ logo as the thumbnail. Since 2009 it’s raised thousands upon thousands of dollars for dozens of awesome charities, and each year it just gets bigger and bigger, with the full support and promotion of YouTube behind it.
All of this aside, the videos themselves are highly entertaining. While sometimes they just talk about what’s going on in their day or what’s going on in Nerdfighteria (events and whatnot), a lot of times they do theme projects, top ten lists, scavenger hunts, contests. John is really great at explaining historical and current events, and Hank still cranks out the songs. It’s fabulous.
So that should be enough back story for you to get why it was so surprising that I got into it so late in the game. Being on top of this sort of thing is sort of my thing. It took me a little bit to figure it out but now I think I have, and I think it has everything to do with it being vlogging and not blogging.
When I was at university it was sort of the belief that blogging was somewhat more adult than vlogging; blogging is what serious, opinionated people did, vlogging is what some bored, shameless pre-teen did for attention. This is a completely nonsensical notion. You get geniuses and nimrods in every population of every thing (livejournal, anyone?). But somehow I got this prejudice tainting how I saw vlogs, and as a result I missed out on a lot of things.
I missed out on an international scavenger hunt perpetrated by authors and musicians across the globe. I missed out on contests and commenting and possibly befriending (virtually) another writer who maybe could have offered some constructive advice for someone in my unique situation. I missed out on other great vlogs and other great people and other great ideas. (This is also strange, since I was a fan of Ze Frank at the time). I missed people like Esther Grace Earl, the Nerdfighter, Harry Potter Alliance warrior, and fellow New Englander who befriended John Green and became the inspiration for John’s book The Fault In Our Stars.
I missed all the charity, Thunderclaps and other events for good in Nerdfighteria. And it reminds me of why I joined Twitter. I was completely against joining Twitter, because, really who needs to listen to every thought some empty actress or teen pop star has to say. But then demonstrations were being organized via Twitter. Coups were orchestrated via Twitter. When social media is changing history, it’s ridiculous not to get involved. So I joined Twitter. And yes there were mounds of clueless crap – but there was also the journalist who fought to get racist posters removed from American subways, the artist who was assaulted and arrested at an Occupy Wall Street protest, the musician who rallied her fans into sponsoring her tour and album.
Twitter can mobilize people. YouTube can mobilize people. It’s not completely vapid bullshit after all.
So now I’m giving this vlogging stuff a chance. I am not saying I’m going to do it – I barely do this blag shiz, and frankly I’m not brave enough to put myself out there like that. It’s one thing being anonymous(ish). It’s quite another having a face. So if you have any suggestions for good vlogs I should check out, let me know. And if you haven’t already, go check out the Vlog Brothers.
Although I must warn you, John Green is a real douche about knitting. I don’t get what his problem is. Knitting would so be the best super power. Imagine if I had super knitting powers and an endless ball of wool? No one on Earth would ever be cold AGAIN. Including penguins!
He’s also really sort of obsessed with his weight. He’s like a teenage girl. Take it from a bonafide fatty, Green. Give it up.
In other news of the world, I drove past a business today that had a sign boasting a ’24 Hour Quote Hotline’. Okay, I don’t know about you but I JUST FOUND MY DREAM JOB. I want to man the 24 Hour Quote Hotline. I want to answer the phone and be like “Words without thoughts never to heaven go.” And then hang up. Oh just imagine the awesome:
Ring. “A dying man can do nothing easy.” Hang up.
Ring. “If your ancestors cut down all the trees, it’s not your fault, but you still don’t live in a forest.” Hang up.
Ring. “Dungeons & Dragons is some of the most crazy, deep, deep, deep nerd shit ever invented. Every word you’re saying is made up. Motherfuckers talk like Yoda.” Hang up.
Ring. “I laughed and said ‘Life is easy.’ What I meant was: ‘Life is easy with you here, and when you leave, it will be hard again.” Hang up.
Ring. “Get at least eight hours of beauty sleep. Nine if you’re ugly.” Hang up.
Ring. “Not only is the universe stranger than we think, it’s stranger than we can think.” Hang up.
So I am getting this out there, releasing the Brain Crack if you will (told you I know the Ze). But I seriously want to do this. If I can get a phone number it’s on.
And with that I skulk off. Thanks for reading.
Here’s what I listened to while writing this; another playlist from the Psychic MP3 Player for you. Enjoy.
Beach House – Myth
School of Seven Bells – ILU
My Bloody Valentine – I Can See It (But I Can’t Feel It)
Throwing Muses – Sunray Venus
Neko Case – Hex (The Tigers Have Spoken version)
The Innocence Mission – Lakes of Canada
The National – Anyone’s Ghost
Polica – Warrior Lord
Tori Amos – Raspberry Swirl
The Dresden Dolls – My Alcoholic Friends
Guided By Voices – Sleep Over Jack
Johnny Cash – I Still Miss Someone
Pixies – Make Believe
Belle and Sebastian – The Blues Are Still Blue
David Bowie – Kingdom Come
Grant Lee Buffalo – Drag
The Flaming Lips – Waiting For Superman
The Helio Sequence – Keep Your Eyes Ahead
Rilo Kiley – We’ll Never Sleep
Throwing Muses – Rabbit’s Dying
Xiu Xiu – I Am The Center Of Your World
Architecture in Helsinki – Heart It Races
R.E.M. – Pretty Persuasion
Talking Heads – Stay Hungry
Vic Chesnutt – The Big Huge Valley
Ani DiFranco – Out of Habit (Like I Said version)
Bon Iver – Brackett, WI
Ladytron – Runaway
Portishead – Nylon Smile
The Smiths – Asleep
Echo and the Bunnymen – Porcupine (alternate version)
Kristin Hersh – Echo
The National – Lucky You