I Was in a Popular YouTube Video and It Completely Changed the Way I Look at Myself
And my perception of the internet
Before I get into this, I would like to ask you a question. Try and answer it as honestly and spontaneously as you can.
Who are you?
For me, this question has never been simple to answer. Even at my last job interview (it went great by the way, thanks for asking), I found it very difficult to delineate the essence of my entire being in a couple of sentences, and no matter how many times I rehearsed that, I always found myself in the same conclusion. Self-talk can get very cringe, very fast and this feeling becomes even stronger when you are born an introvert.
At the same time, I spent the entirety of my college years writing. While this has not been an easy ride, I have enjoyed the gifts of the internet to quite an extent. From monetary gain to meeting amazing human beings, I decided that I should never ignore an opportunity just because of my fear of failure.
When your favorite content creator asks for help, you answer
And when the lovely Beryl Shereshewsky was searching for culturally important dishes for her channel, I knew exactly the thing. My mum’s amazing kolokithopita, the one dish that tastes like home, was going to be perfect for the video. So I left a comment on her community page and completely forgot about it. You see, the internet is a crowded place and I didn’t think my help would be needed. But it was, and I had to film myself for the first time.
Coincidentally, two days after filming my part in this video, I was asked by my journalism mentor to film an hour-long interview with a Physics professor, so this can be considered a literal warm-up for my inexperienced self.
Filming a 2-minute video of myself talking about my favorite food was much scarier than interviewing a scientist.
Mainly because my interview got roughly 300,000 fewer views than my interview. I surely don’t know that many people. I don’t even know if I have ever seen 300k people in the same place. No wonder I was so hesitant to send the video. The thing was that despite all the wonderful things the world wide web has done for humanity, we all know there’s a dark side to it. We have all seen the cyberbullying horror stories. We know that people can get quite mean on the internet if they’re allowed to do so.
When a friend told me that they saw me on YouTube, I knew it was time to start protecting myself from the mean internet trolls. My good old anxiety started kicking in. Was there anything weird in my background? And wow, that tooth gap looked weird! I kid you not, the first time I watched it, I was certain I would end up somewhere on the internet as a meme. I hopped on the comment section, left a “thank you” note, and never looked back.
I had no idea people would love it so much
After the video was up for a couple of weeks, I started receiving so many requests on my Instagram account! Greeks from all over the world would share their memories of home, and the comment section was flooded with the nicest comments ever.
So imagine freaking out over the background, while the people in the comments are handing out hundreds of heart-warming, confidence-boosting remarks. I don’t want to get too sentimental, but for now, let’s just say that all these human beings gave me the gift of learning how to love myself again.
After battling trauma, and constant self-doubt, hundreds of strangers used their words in a way that since then has shaped my entire worldview. I didn’t just gain some of my lost confidence. Most importantly, I was taught one big lesson.
You cannot escape yourself, so you better start embracing it.
And while this has been told so many times, it’s important to repeat it once more. We live in the social media era. We see our distorted faces through Kardashian/Jenner filters every single day. Putting your real self out there is the difficult part. But allow me to say that this is our only chance at mental stability. How long can we keep photoshopping, editing, and staging every single post before our internet personas start replacing what’s left of us? What’s going to happen if we stop?
If my short-lived YouTube experience taught me anything else, is that people aren’t as bad as I thought. And even if they are, haven’t we had enough to know better and simply disregard the occasional internet troll?
As the wonderful Rutger Bregman writes in his book Humankind: A Hopeful History (which, btw you should definitely read), the first rule in dealing with other human beings is
When in doubt, assume the best
So circling back to the first question.
Who are you?
This is what I can say for myself. My name is Vivi. I write, teach, and do random jobs because I can. I live in Greece, and even though I sometimes wish I was born somewhere else, I love everything about it. I love food -sometimes a little too much- and I have a weakness for skincare products. I don’t always feel smart, beautiful, or strong, and sometimes I disappoint myself by daydreaming too much. I spent one hour writing this, and one more making sure my English was right because it’s not my native language, checking everything again and again.
This is me, and I wish it was as easy for everyone else to be their true selves.
Personal rule number two.
Always recognize your privilege.
This is my second article on the platform, and I am super excited to share my POV on today’s issues as well as some educational content shortly. Your feedback will be highly appreciated and help me navigate my way to becoming a better writer.