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?
I never noticed that it was harder to find articles on Youtube’s effect. It might be due to never specifically searching for them, but it is weird considering that I do often look for (social) media articles. I personally do not watch a lot of travel Youtubers per se. I follow ‘Abroad in Japan’ but he is more of a J(apan)-vlogger than Travel Youtuber. His videos tend to be more like mini-documentaries, some of them actually copying the documentary formula from the BBC. I like watching these videos, as they tend to be shining a light on lesser known places, and practices like english marketing in Japan. I guess you can say that I watch them as if reading a ‘Top 10 places to go to’-article? There is not a lot of jealousy going on, but more of a ‘Oh! That is going on my list’. I don’t follow other travel vloggers, as I tend to find these videos a bit hit or miss. They either are very fun to watch or a bit pretentious or even boring, not necessarily something I can easily watch. It probably has to do with not knowing enough of these travel Youtubers either.
I feel like I have travel envy… I follow so many travel and lifestyle profiles, I can’t even keep count. What I find so interesting is exactly what you pointed out, I feel more jealous when watching these videos or seeing pictures on instagram as opposed to Youtube. I only noticed this after reading your article. I guess youtube does have a more honest approach when it comes to travel vlogs. But it is important to not deny the fact that either way, the YouTube will always edit their video and they can always chose what they show us. So I guess it all comes down to checking our sources. But honestly I do think that a platform like instagram is so much more ‘false’ or ‘edited’. A video is a more honest medium as it captures anything in its way as soon as you hit record. In answering your question, and to prove my point, yes, I do post glamorous photos of places I go on my IG story. I feel like we are subjected into thinking that we have to do that. It is an inevitable protocol of having IG. I must say that my life on instagram looks so calm and easy and it truly isn’t always that. So I guess if a camera was following me around and recording me, they would see that there is a lot of good and a lot of bad because that is life. So I agree with you, that youtube makes me feel less envious and mad about where I am, as oppose to IG that is always so stressful and almost competitive.
I didn’t know about this particular characteristic of YouTube!!
I am a very private person and I share my picture, location, and experience with very very few people, but indeed, I feel sorts of good to share them. Maybe, the notion of Travel Envy should be spread further and Travel Envy Management must be a kind of mandatory skill for social media user must learn before they start them. Personally, I try not to see social media posts which were made by people other than I know, so I do not feel Travel Envy that much. I also try to feel virtual traveling through reading poetry and listening to Japanese old tunes (since Japanese lyrics tends to be the description of scenery rather than description of story because of its linguistic nature). So, Instagram with poetry might be some good alternative of Travel Envy stuff. Just small offer though, hahaha!! 🙂