(originally published at StageofLife.org, won runner-up position in the YouTube essay contest)
YouTube comment sections tend to be cold, nasty brawls with one another. On the occasions that I happen to glance at the comments section of anything that is not a lecture or a TED talk, I find denouncements and rudeness, surrounded by poor spelling and grammatical errors.
When I watch these complete strangers scowl and squabble with one another, I can’t help but lose some faith in the future of the human race.
At times, I even lost faith in myself. I felt that outside of writing, my mind was a null, non-unique and talentless abyss. I was not even good at public speaking (That was my only B+ in middle school), a talent that my parents emphasized and asked me to pursue for the sake of the future. My problem appeared to be a certain weariness and a lack of enthusiasm for tasks outside of my realm of expertise. Despite the fact that I delivered in the end, it was difficult to get me to work.
“So, in other words, you aren’t good at anything,” a cruel classmate commented. Others might have also held lower opinions of me, but held their tongues. As one may have assumed by now, I failed to charm others- so the idea of going into anything other than writing or journalism was out. And even if I became a writer or a journalist, I began to wonder: Would I be able to impact the world at all with my work?
It was then that I happened upon a University of Cincinnati biomedical student who sought to change the world… by playing video games.
While surfing YouTube out of boredom, I was drawn to a video of this man talking about how he had clambered out of the worst year of his life and why he played video games. After going through a terrible year where he had suffered from cancer, illness, and a volatile private life, Mark Fischbach had started a YouTube channel on a whim. He simply had fun playing horror games and having his pants scared off by the myriad of monsters and jumpscares he encountered through each video that he uploaded to his channel.
When the Markiplier channel took off, he began planning to do more. He sought to entertain, but he wanted to build up the community to do great things, such as raise money for charity. “We have done so much with 10,000 subscribers,” he told his audience, “Imagine what we could do with 100,000, or even a million subscribers.” In a recent update, he reminded his viewers of their potent influence on the world. As I watched, he smiled warmly into the camera, his eyes seeming to search out those go his viewers as he spoke.
“We have one of the most amazing and caring communities on YouTube and we must always dedicate ourselves to setting an example for what others should aspire to… I hope that you never forget the strength inside you and despite our incredible numbers I hope you never forget how much change just one person can bring.”
Markiplier’s encouragements heartened me. I began acting as a person who sought every opportunity to improve himself, looking into new opportunities and always having a smile on my face and an air of confidence about me. My presentation skills improved, I gained more supporters in my colleagues and I finished out the year with a bang.
With my new improvement and slightly more daring persona, I hope to overcome whatever challenges life wants to throw at me.
As Markiplier would scream, “BRING IT ONNN!!!!”