On Delimiting One’s Being
Updated: Feb 25
If my memory serves me well, I have never construed myself as a YouTuber insofar as I have made the distinction that I am someone who has a YouTube channel. The distinction was, by no means, a ploy to abdicate responsibility towards being a YouTuber as much as it was a recognition that I didn’t and, perhaps, couldn’t abide by the dictates, as I came to understand them, laid down by the medium ranging from physical performative aspects such as being energetic and fun to contextual and semantic in terms of the topics and presentation. The revelation of these insights, however, were in retrospect. While I was tangentially aware that YouTube was never a means to an end, it was through the process of being on YouTube that several epiphanies eventually coalesced. This piece, in some sense, is a homage to that coalition.
I came across a quote by Stephen Fry several months ago, and, as it were, there was a disjunction between knowing and understanding. He said -
Oscar Wilde said that if you know what you want to be, then you inevitably become it. That is your punishment. But if you never know, then you can be anything. There is a truth to that. We are not nouns, we are verbs. I am not a thing — an actor, a writer — I am a person who does things — I write, I act — and I never know what I am going to do next. I think you can be imprisoned if you think of yourself as a noun.
In ways more than one, whilst I didn’t call myself a YouTuber I did implicitly start seeing myself solely as a video producer. I failed to comprehend what drove me, although, on several occasions, I remember stating to myself but, also, to those around me that it’s not about the video. And, yet, for the past several months it served to imprison my being, the way of operating, if I were to be so reductive. And, let me clear, I don’t mean to imply that there’s anything incompetent or insufficient about being a YouTuber or a video producer, this is more about a personal framework towards being rather than an outward regulatory standard. This was a question that I was asking myself. The question, it seems, was to break down the limiting nature of seeing oneself through a noun, in this case, a video producer.
And let’s be fair, I was. At one point in time, it was relatively an accurate summary of my mode of being. But, I suppose, it’s not anymore courtesy the very process of creating videos on YouTube. In some sense, to borrow the Heideggerian parlance, the ready-at-hand of my past became the present-at-hand; the solution of then became a problem of now. In many ways, the signs were there.
Social media, after all, is a ground for self-presentation irrespective of whether we’re deliberate about it. I know now, but I didn’t know then that the process of editing my Instagram bio was just a consequence of the transition my mode of being was undergoing. At one point, I remember my bio stating ‘YouTuber’ somewhere as I was playing out the pretension that often precedes action. Subsequently, it changed to ‘I drink coffee, and I film things’, and then to ‘I drink coffee, and I know nothing’. This period was marked by a rapid yet steady realisation that I tried to encapsulate in my video ‘How writing for YouTube fundamentally altered my life’. A summary of what I’m trying to do right now is, then, complementary to what my bio states presently – ‘An idiot, giving an account of one’s self’, which is, also, a nod to the book by Judith Butler.
In a poetic timey-wimey-wibbly-wobbly kind of way, this piece comes as a direct epiphany that came whilst writing a piece or, rather, struggling to present the piece that’ll eventually come to follow this piece. The piece in question was ‘Why some of us need to create’, and the struggle was in figuring out the corresponding visuals. Implicit in the struggle was the idea that “I am a video producer; I have to make a video out of this” which was an imprisoning principle. And, whilst there’s nothing wrong with that particular thought, I think I have come to part ways with that former mode of being.
This piece, then, serves both as a transitionary note as well as an overture to where I intend on taking the commonality that underlies the two mode of beings that are mentioned herein: the commonality of sharing one’s experience. It’s my understanding that, the primary readership for this article will be a combination of my YouTube/Instagram followers and those amongst my friends that actively follow and engage with my work. I’m certain that you have many questions, I have them too. We’ll address them, eventually. For now, thank you so much for your time and as always!