Are you a Doer or a Watcher?

Social media has turned us into a world of exhibitionists and voyeurs. Of content creators and content consumers. Of Doers and Watchers.

We're a society where you can either do a thing or watch someone do a thing.

This was fine when it was elite Doers, like professional athletes, who can do things that most of us are not good at. When we were kids, we watched them do their thing and wished we were that good. Then we would go do our version of that thing and pretend we could do it as well as they did.

Nowadays, people are making videos of themselves doing things most of us can actually do, and they're making a lot of money at it. They're making money because hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people watch them do their thing.

A thing that's not actually that hard.

People have become famous by sharing tips for fashion and makeup, working out, cleaning things, playing video games, or just talking about inane nonsense on a daily basis. They get massive audiences, bigger than the most TV shows, and they're getting rich.

And not to go all "you kids get off my lawn!" on you, there are even videos of people who open up new purchases. Those are called "unboxing videos" and people have gotten rich just by doing that.

For example, let's say you buy a new power drill, take it home, and record a video of you opening the box up for the first time and testing out the drill. And not only did the drill company send you the drill, but they'll give you a few thousand bucks to take a video of you actually opening and using it.

I recognize the irony of my gripe, considering I wrote a book that told people how to achieve this. But I never imagined someone would earn $10,000 for saying "Hey y'all, watch me make scrambled eggs!"

There are children who are making millions of dollars just for opening up and playing with new toys on YouTube. Why? Because other kids want to watch videos of kids playing with toys.

Which means we're creating a new generation of Watchers.

And the Watchers are making the Doers rich. In 2019, an 8-year-old boy made $26 million just by playing with new toys on YouTube.

Last year, I learned that kids whose families didn't have a lot of money would watch toy unboxing videos over and over because they weren't going to be able to do that themselves for Christmas, and if that's not the saddest damn thing you've ever heard, you have no soul.

I've even become a Watcher. I love watching restoration videos on YouTube. That's where people take broken-down tools and devices that are decades old and restore them to better-than-new condition.

A screenshot of TysyTube's channel on YouTube.
One of my favorites is a French guy who runs the TysyTube channel. He has restored everything from giant crescent wrenches, a firefighter's helmet from the 1930s, several coffee grinders, and a Victoria station clock. He once restored a doll from the 1960s that was so creepy that, if it had come to life and murdered him, I would not be a bit surprised.

Another guy, My Mechanics, is a Swiss machinist who not only restores broken-down devices, he even fabricates new bolts and pins with a metal lathe and a hydraulic milling machine.

I watch these videos, three and four at a time, staring like a baby seeing a bowl of Skittles for the first time.

I wish I had the patience and skills, not to mention the thousands of dollars' worth of machines, to actually do these things. But I don't, and I never will: I'm a Watcher, not a Doer.

There are people who have found their passion and they record themselves doing that thing over and over.

There are chefs who cook for you on video. They make dish after dish, sharing recipes with us, going through the steps, explaining the hows and whys of each ingredient. There are woodworkers who show us how they build projects. There are artists who will show a time lapse video of their paintings, letting you see it all come together. And my new favorite, there are people who convert vans and buses to tiny campers and live in them.

But I don't always want to be a Watcher. I want to try being a Doer once in a while.

For example, I like cooking, especially grilling, and I enjoy some of the cooking shows on PBS or Alton Brown's new production of "Good Eats," now available on Hulu.

I watch the show, and I think, "You know, I'd like to prepare a reverse sear steak the way Alton Brown does."

But I don't. I can't. Not only do I not have the actual inclination to do it, my wife has forbidden me from using a cast iron pan on the glass top stove because I might scratch it.

Still, I might do it when she's traveling one of these days. Then, when she finds out, I'll shoot a video of her yelling at me.

Then we'll be so rich, I can buy my own glass top stove. You can all watch me unbox it.

My new humor novel, Mackinac Island Nation, is finished and available on Amazon. You can get the Kindle version here or the paperback version here.