Closing the Curtain on YouTube

Closing the Curtain on YouTube

Today, five years to the day of when I officially launched the first episode of The Backlog, I’m publishing my final video and hanging it all up.

I know this is confusing based on what I’ve been saying on Twitter since I posted that teaser a week ago. I said The Backlog was BACK BAYBEE and we’d have a new channel and be kickin’ butt all over again. Unfortunately, this was another instance of me getting overexcited and announcing plans before they’re really thought through. You’d think I’d have learned my lesson by now.

The plan was to start it all over again, right where it originally began with Trog! for NES. Instead, I’m ending back where I started and to be honest I like how that feels much better.

Working on this video, the first time I’ve opened Premiere since my daughter was born, just hasn’t been fun. It was a slog and I had to force myself to get through it. It’s how I imagine my daughter is going to feel in a few years when we’re telling her she has to have three more bites of broccoli before she can have dessert. That’s not a good way to feel when you’re doing something creative!

I miss the feeling of being excited to work on videos. I miss how exciting things were when I was first starting the channel and I was talking to cool people and how rad it was to hear about how folks were enjoying things I made. I think I just wanted to have that feeling back, but that feeling is from a very specific time and I don’t think it’s possible to get it back. And you know what? That’s ok.

A little bit of background: when I was in high school, I wasn’t “invisible” because I had a few good friends and girlfriends or whatever, but I was unremarkable. The way I joked about it back then was people knew who I was, but they didn’t care.

I worked on my school newspaper for all four years – only the second student in the school’s history to do so. It’s where I really found my love for writing. I had the back page of the paper all to myself – I used it for funny articles like when I went trick-or-treating two weeks before Halloween or when I started a fake boy band. It was a blast.

Before graduation, there was an email going around our senior class that was picking the best students at everything. You know those things: best looking, most athletic, yadda yadda. Of course I wasn’t on any of those. Scrolling down, I got to “Best Newspaper Writer.” Under “female” was the full name of the girl who was Editor-in-Chief with me. Under male it just said “That boy Joe.”

I have such a simple, easy to remember name, and they couldn’t even write the whole thing. That sucked. In the one moment I was going to be recognized I was just reduced to my first name when literally everyone else was listed properly. It stung!

I’m a deeply broken human being which is why I’ve always been driven to create. That feeling of not even being able to stand next to my peers when I was finally being recognized for being good at something has stuck with me. It’s part of why I was driven to YouTube in the first place – I wanted to make things and be recognized for them. I wanted to have my creative output be part of my identity.

And please don’t read my motivations the wrong way! I didn’t get into the game in order to be YouTube famous or whatever. I tried my best to grow and share my work, but the biggest thing for me was always making things I was proud of. Even when my videos didn’t come out as good as I wanted them to, I was always proud of them. I was always happy I made them. Having nice people on the internet tell me they liked them was a super nice bonus.

I got to do a lot over the past few years. I became friends with Alyssa Menes and she wrote me a theme song. I got to be friends with Norm, the Gaming Historian, one of my biggest influences and make some videos with him. I got to be part of Retroware TV and become friends with all the cool guys there (there’s a friendship theme here). I got to go to MAGFest, be a part of a panel and sign autographs. Even if my channel never got as big as I would have liked I certainly can’t complain it never went anywhere.

And yeah, I screwed up a lot along the way. I should never have rebranded away from The Backlog. I shouldn’t have announced so many things on Twitter before they were done. I probably shouldn’t have been as open about things as I was, and continue to be if you consider the tone of this post!

But making YouTube videos helped me grow as a person, expand my social circle and finally be able to have a body of work that I’m proud of and people have recognized me for.

But now there’s only one person I want to be recognized by and she’s six months old.

Having my daughter changed everything, and in a good way. I know people think that having kids means you have to give up everything you enjoy so you can take care of a little screaming larva all the time and you never get to do anything fun ever again. That’s really not the case! Yes, you give up a lot when you have kids, but your priorities also change – your kid becomes your whole world not because they are your obligation, but because you are so in love with that little peanut that stuff like video games and YouTube just feel so much smaller.

Before she was born, whenever I was making a video I’d come home from work (I do have a full-time job, remember!) and then get to work on videos and I wouldn’t feel TOO guilty because my wife would either be at work herself or be doing something she enjoyed, and we’d do something together later.

Now when I come home, things are a lot different. My wife has spent the day alone at the whims of a six-month-old, and some days all she wants is a few minutes to take a shower. I’ve been at work all day and I naturally want to spend some time with my daughter. We’re trying to keep her on a schedule, so she eats and goes to bed at the same time every day. Once she’s asleep, there’s only a couple of hours before WE need to get to bed, but we still need to do things like have our own dinner, clean the house and spend some quiet time together as well. There’s only about 4 hours between when I get home and when my daughter goes to bed and I absolutely do not want to spend those hours sitting at the computer with headphones on, editing a video and missing out on things.

I just don’t really have the room for that stuff in my life anymore, and you know what? That’s okay. It’s okay that I’m not at the same point in my life that I was five years ago. If I was I’d think something is wrong, honestly. I absolutely love being a dad, and I love my revised role as a husband. I have my family, and suddenly I don’t really care for the acknowledgement of anyone else anymore.

In the time since she’s been born, I’ve also been enjoying other things more. I like being able to play games and not feel like it’s taking time away from working on a video. I like being able to watch other YouTubers and not constantly be comparing my work to theirs. It’s nice to just be able to enjoy those things without pressure anymore.

I’m not disappearing. I have this website now, and I really love just writing again. I’m still gonna be a doofus on Twitter. I’m just not gonna be able to sink hours and hours into making videos anymore, and even though it took me making one last proclamation that I couldn’t stick to to realize it I’m really okay with it.

I don’t have to be Joe the YouTuber to have value or worth. I never did, really. I’m Joe the dad. I’m Joe the husband. I’m Joe the friend. I’m all these other things that have value to different people and that’s the stuff that makes me feel successful. I don’t need thousands of views on a video or someone wanting my autograph. I don’t need to make videos about games, I can just play them and enjoy them on my own.

I’m rambling at this point, so I’m just going to end this post by offering a sincere thank you from the absolute bottom of my heart. I might not have the drive or time to make videos anymore but I will always cherish that period of my life, primarily because of all the awesome people that came into my life because of it. If you subscribed to my channel, contributed on Patreon or even just watched a video once I appreciate it more than I can say.

Anyway, I won’t be making videos anymore but I’ll still be around. See you soon!

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