My job allows me the opportunity to work with youth, specifically through workshops and presentations to help them prepare for the future of work – i.e. resume building, soft skills they’re not taught in school, personal branding, etc. In a workshop recently I asked the group what they wanted to do as a career and a handful of the kids in the room said they wanted to be YouTubers.
Despite having facilitated this workshop dozens of times, this was the first time I got this response to my fairly scripted question. I was anticipating responses like doctor, lawyer, firefighter, veterinarian… So I wasn’t exactly prepared to react to this answer.
I took this as an opportunity to learn a little more about this younger generation. Clearly their aspirations are quite different than mine would have been at their age. I asked, “Can you tell me more about what YouTubers do and why you want to be one?” The explanations surprised me. I was thinking it would be about making money or becoming famous. Turns out it’s bigger than fame and fortune.
Here’s what they said (in so many words):
- YouTube is a place they can express themselves and be heard
- This platform allows them to speak about causes or issues that are important to them
- It brings communities together
After hearing this, I believe more than ever that our world is in good hands with this generation.
It did get me thinking though… What are the downsides to being a YouTuber? Does this career path have any impact a person’s well-being?
The answer: Yes. Big time yes.
CBC featured an article about a YouTuber named Elle Mills, a 21-year-old from Ottawa who dedicated herself to YouTube success. According to the article, Mills graduated high school and then spent all of her time building her YouTube channel’s success.
Mills was shooting, editing and posting new videos every week and it led to being “Burnt Out at 19” as she explained in one of her videos. If you’re planning on watching this video, I want to warn you that it covers some heavy stuff. Mills opens up about her mental health and how content creation has made her depression and anxiety take over. There’s some very real and intense footage but very impactful.
What really strikes me about the concept of a career like this causing so much damage to a person’s well being is how it can go unnoticed for so long. A content creator can hide the bad and share only the good things in their life. Viewers could go years without ever knowing how the YouTuber truly feels. Fortunately, online personalities like Elle Mills are speaking out about this. It’s becoming more and more acceptable to openly discuss your mental health.
I guess it’s not uncommon for a person’s job to cause them to burn out. I’m sure it’s something that everyone feels at some point or another… But it is interesting that a career that looks so fun and interesting could have this impact.
The world of work is changing. Kids see YouTube as a career option and that’s totally okay. I simply hope they stay connected to how they’re feeling and check in every once in a while to make sure they aren’t burning out.
So, what would your advice be to a future YouTube star as they embark on their journey and navigate possible impacts to their well-being?
Facebook: You want to be a YouTuber when you grow up? Have you thought about your mental health? Here’s something to consider: https://bit.ly/387uPLs
Twitter: Kids want to be YouTubers but is burning out in your early career worth it? #burnout #youtubestars https://bit.ly/387uPLs