Wow, two blog posts in one day…..I’m just as shocked as you are, believe me.
Here’s fair warning: this post is going to be bouncing a bit all over the place (welcome to how my mind runs on a daily basis).
If you’ve read any of my previous posts, then you know that I struggle with depression – I have for most of my life. As I’ve grown older I’ve realized that being open about it and talking with others has been a huge help to alleviate the symptoms. Mental Illness is still such a touchy subject in society still even though more than 15 million Americans suffer from depression alone (ADAA statistic).
My job as a youth pastor has caused me to have a (painful) front row seat at teens struggling with depression and anxiety. You know, that’s not even correct. I do everything in my limited power to help them through what they’re feeling and to encourage them that it does get better. I offer them the same coping mechanisms that I’ve picked up along the way: don’t shy away from your friends, talk to your parents, write your feelings down, listen to positive music, study the Bible, pray.
I’ve picked up a new coping mechanism from them, that at first I didn’t think was odd but now I’m not so sure. That outlet: YouTube. Personally, I’ve gotten a lot of enjoyment and encouragement from watching Carrie Hope Fletcher, AmazingPhil, and Daniel Howell, and the Fine Brothers React Channel. When I recently started talking to my friends, most of them had no idea who I was talking about or had even heard the term “YouTubers.” This led me to conduct an experiment. I put out a plea on Facebook that if anyone who had struggled with depression and/or anxiety and knew of YouTube to please contact me if they would be willing to answer some questions for my blog.
What I found surprised me.
These are some excerpts of answers I recieved from my questions: “Do you regularly watch YouTube” and “Why do you think people – especially young people – rely on YouTube when depressed.”
“I don’t really watch videos, but certain songs get me through my depression and anxiety.”
“I watch YouTube more than I watch TV or movies anymore.”
“I don’t watch YouTube like at all.”
“Not sure [why young people turn to YouTube] – I know my daughter does YouTube so maybe it is just funnier to her.”
“I can’t go a day without watching at least one of my YouTube channels.”
“Time restraints with schedules these kids keep are crazy, plus they have the attention of a chicklet.” (my personal favorite response)
In case you were wondering, all those who commented positively about YouTube were under the age of 21. The older the responder, the less they watched or even knew about YouTube.
Another interesting thing I discovered is that those under 21 had similar favorite YouTubers and reasons why they watched them:
- Tessa Netting: positive, uplifting, down to earth
- Daniel Howell: relatable, funny, down to earth
- CrankThatFrank: funny, emo, down to earth
- Carrie Hope Fletcher: positive, uplifting, down to earth
- Markiplier: funny, weird, down to earth
- Jackscepticeye: funny, weird, down to earth
All of these have one big thing in common: down to earth. As one of the members of the over 21 group said: “It’s easier to relate to a real person than a character on a show or in a movie, so of course teens and kids will respond to that more. It makes them feel not so alone I imagine.”
The over 21 group had some alternative suggestions to YouTube to help alleviate the symptoms of depression and anxiety:
There’s a common thread here as well: movement.
As these answers were coming in, one of my best friends had started something called The 100 Day Journey. She was taking a half an hour out of each day to do some kind of exercise and making small changes to her diet. Today is her 100th day and she looks incredible – I’m not just talking about weight change here, she looks happy and has more energy. It really inspired me to follow in her footsteps, so tomorrow I’m starting my first 100 Day Journey alongside my husband, my sister Joy, and my friend who is starting over at Day 1 (because she’s a boss). I plan to document my journey on here and my other social media pages.
Let’s see if Elle Woods was right….