YouTube is known to be a great time waster for most of us. We watch cooking videos for recipes we’ll never follow, makeup tutorials for looks that would not suit us in any way, and stories from the lives of people we would not even want to meet, never mind befriend.
Since most of us are dealing with canceled shows, canceled rehearsals and practices, and work from home orders, we all likely have a little time to waste these days. Here are my favorite YouTubers, people whose videos help pass the time. Occasionally I get story or character ideas, but most of the time these channels are just fun…or at least interesting…to watch.
The main theme of Ryland Adams’ channel appears to be personal storytelling from the viewpoint of a young, white, gay man who started out waiting tables, and worked his way up through a series of jobs in entertainment journalism until he was able to make a living from telling his own life stories and conducting fun social experiments on his YouTube channel. Although he may be best known for being the fiance of Shane Dawson, Ryland’s channel stands on its own as an example of engaging storytelling and someone with a kind, warm personality. Every time I watch one of Ryland’s videos, I come away wishing I had a brother or a brother-in-law like him. Even when Ryland is doing something I know I’d never be able to afford to do, such as buying every advertisement he sees for his cat, or selling a car I couldn’t afford if I got five day jobs, he does everything in such a spirit of fun, I feel like I could join in. Some of his sillier social experiments…turning his house into the Taco Bell Hotel, wearing his mother’s wedding dress around town for a day, or bringing goats home just for his own amusement….are done in such an endearing way, silly behavior becomes funny.
Despite being financially well-off, there is a lot of relatable content on Ryland’s channel. His attempts to learn to cook are amusing, mostly because I feel completely incompetent in the kitchen myself. I can prepare a basic meal, but ask me to create my favorite Italian or Greek dish, and I feel just like Ryland working his way carefully down the instructions on the meal kit, wondering if he’s doing any of it correctly.
I first began following Shane Dawson’s channel when he focused on conspiracy theories and urban legends. Shane’s ability to teach the finer points of each theory or legend in a short span of time makes these videos both informative and entertaining. Though I’m not one to believe in conspiracy theories or urban legends, it’s always good to know what’s going around, and many of them make excellent prompts for fiction writing.
Other topics on Shane Dawson’s channel include in-depth, professionally produced profiles of other YouTubers, social experiments, and personal stories. His most recent series looks behind the scenes of the beauty industry as he develops his own product line with Jeffree Star. Even those of us who are not into makeup are sure to find the information about business, ethics, and other topics useful.
Jeffree Star is known for being a flamboyant, edgy man with an androgynous appearance who often dresses in full glam-punk drag. He’s also known for being a genius at makeup, business, and marketing, as the founder of Jeffree Star Cosmetics.
While a woman who dresses in what Pinterest calls “librarian style” would probably look a little off in one of Jeffree’s colorful, detailed, makeup looks, his videos are engaging due to his excellent storytelling ability and teaching skills. I may not have the features, clothes, or personality suited to a glam-punk makeup look, but after watching one of his tutorials, I feel like I could duplicate it for someone else.
Between makeup tutorials, Jeffree often conducts popular YouTube social experiments, such as going to the worst rated business in his city, or trying new foods at fast food restaurants. I was particularly impressed with him as a person when he visited the worst-rated tattoo parlor in the area, but refused to give them his business after they treated a member of his staff poorly. He noted that they were only being nice to him because he was famous, were rude to people who were not, and left without giving them a dime, or any additional publicity.
The best part of Jeffree’s videos are always his dogs. He’s the pet parent to several Pomeranians.
The Real Nelvee
The title of this channel tells the story. The Real Nelvee keeps it real. Unlike the other vloggers on this list, Nell does not have a million dollar income. This is because she is fairly new, and has not taken off yet. She will. Nell exposes myths about disabilities, teaches her audience about life and parenting with a disability, and discusses general issues important to anyone, such as raising your credit score and what to do when a major piece of equipment fails.
Watching Nell’s videos feels like sitting across the table from a friend, learning something they’d wanted to explain to you for a while.
China is the theme of this channel. It follows the life of a young American man, his Chinese wife, and his friends from around the world as they live and work in China. Many of the host, known as “C-Milk,’s” videos center around teaching viewers about Chinese politics, culture, and society. (He uses a VPN to mask his ip and get around government censorship).
Although I’m interested in the world overall, China is not a country that holds any particular interest for me. I’m no more or less interested in China than I would be about any other country you might randomly mention. I stumbled upon this channel looking for information about teaching Chinese students online.
And teaching Chinese students online appears to be the only topic he doesn’t cover. Just casually following his channel taught me about the Hong Kong protests from a personal perspective, Chinese propoganda, Chinese cultural values, the Covid 19 crisis from the beginning….and American Chinese restaurants.
Other channels I watch at random
Any Utica area artist who is also a vlogger gets added to my subscriptions…and I really wish you would all post more. I watch local artist YouTubers when I can. Hopefully, more local artists will start YouTube channels. In the meantime, I have a few more vloggers on my subscription list right now. I may add more in the future.
Graham Stephan and Nate O’Brien are favorite channels for financial guidance. Safiya Nygaard does some outlandish activities, like making the world’s largest lipstick, but she does some fun, educational vlogs too, such as teaching her viewers about K-Pop or what McDonald’s is like in Hong Kong. I recommend Makeup Maven Jessica to anyone who wants to sell Avon. David Dobrik, Jason Nash, and the rest of the group of YouTubers known as the “Vlog Squad” offer the occasional intersting experiment or funny video, but some of their behavior toward other people makes me want to watch them a lot less. Channels for language learning, warning against new age practices, or finding coupons are ones I may visit occasionally, but rarely subscribe to or watch.
I hope this gives you something to waste some time on. Remember, limit close contact to people you’re already around on a day to day basis, wash your hands a few extra times per day, sanitize countertops, computers, and other areas that get touched a lot more than usual, and only go out when you need groceries or other absolutely necessary supplies, or to pick up prepared food from local restaurants.