Written by: Pieter de Jong
We all watch YouTube video’s, don’t we? I do, that’s for sure. I love watching YouTube video’s and travel video’s by ‘travel vloggers’ in particular. I watch these vlogs and think, f*ck me, I wish I was there or able to go there just now. Which sounds like jealousy, right? But is it really?
Jealousy and social media are a strongly intertwined duo and the combination of the two has been thoroughly studied for years. You hear a lot of things about how unhealthy it is to use Facebook, Instagram of Snapchat to just look at people you look up to. There is even research looking into which social platform is most damaging to mental health on average.
I wasn’t however able to easily find any research on exactly these processes when it comes to YouTube. Isn’t that weird? You’re able to watch people doing fun stuff that you are unable to do for hours and hours compared to simple posts on Instagram, Snapchat or Facebook. There is even a term for being jealous of other people travelling, which was coined for Instagram at first, but is applicable to absolutely all forms of media, Travel Envy.
My favourite YouTuber is Bald and Bankrupt, an extravagant Russian- and Hindi-speaking Brit exploring mainly India and the former Soviet Republics. Every video I watch I wish I was there, but I happily watch them and never feel sad afterwards. Research also shows that YouTube actually scores positive in surveys about its influence on mental health. Why is it that YouTube isn’t as bad as the snappier social media platforms when it comes to mental health?
Let’s first look at exactly that snappiness, when checking out someone’s travel pictures or short video’s on Instagram, you usually get a very tiny and mostly positive image of whatever the person is doing, since they usually don’t feel like showing the possible negative parts of travel. Also, you are more likely to follow people that you actually know on Instagram, Snapchat or Facebook and seeing people you actually know celebrating their holidays in a faraway sunny destination while you are, well, not there, is much more likely to influence your feelings compared to a person you specifically followed on YouTube because you liked his or her content and style of vlogging.
Now do I experience jealousy or Travel Envy when watching travel vloggers going all around the world on YouTube? Yes I do. But they give me a somewhat full picture, aren’t necessarily positive about the places they visit and I don’t know them personally, so maybe this is leaning slightly further towards admiration compared to seeing exactly these things being done by people closer to me? I’m not sure, but jealousy has a negative connotation and I’d say wishing to be somewhere you’re not isn’t necessarily a positive feeling.
I must say, I also enjoy sending Snapchats or Instagram posts whenever I am at a place I think is very cool and I truly love the thought of people gazing at it like: f*ck me, I wish I was there. Is that immoral? Or very human?
I have no final answer to exactly these questions, but maybe implementing some of the stuff YouTubers do onto the other social media platforms might save people a lot of mental health problems. Do you enjoy following people travelling or do you just get jealous? Do you post your travel pictures and video’s on your socials just to flex on others or just because you want to let people know where you have been?