YouTube bingeing

Like many others during this lockdown period, I’ve overdosed a bit on watching YouTube videos on nights and weekends. It turns out, though, that it’s not all a waste of time, of looking at mindless drivel. Some channels are quite interesting and educational. Others, like the seemingly endless number of Carol Burnett Show clips, are somewhat mindless but they most definitely are not drivel. Humor is really important and necessary, now more than ever, and few shows have ever been as consistently funny as that one.

My wife told me about Doing It Ourselves, a new channel on YouTube, and I have enjoyed each weekly installment. The channel documents a family’s experience with buying and fixing up a grand French chateau. The channel’s creator/narrator, named Michael, is amazingly gifted, and I particularly enjoy the fact that he has chosen an approach to telling his stories that is positive, interesting, and real, with a bit of humor thrown in for good measure from time to time. The amount of hard work put into the chateau and its environs is inspiring.

I also stumbled across a channel about a guy named Daniel who decided to chuck the rat race to build a sustainable life for himself in the rural West Country of Ireland. He bought a small property with a decrepit old cottage and some outbuildings a few years ago, and set about restoring everything. Mossy Bottom tells the story of his experiences so far, along with his faithful dog, Moss, and a growing menagerie of other animals. This series inspires, educates, and amuses in turn. I admire Daniel’s ethics as well as his vision for his life.

Then there are musicians who’ve decided to hold mini concerts from home since they cannot tour. These aren’t a big deal to me with the exception of a regular weekly series of performances by Mary Chapin Carpenter called Songs from Home. I like some of her music, true, but I especially enjoy what she has to say and how she says it, and above all else, her dog, a beautiful golden retriever named Angus. As Mary says at the end of each session: Stay strong, stay mighty.

These are only a few of the things I’ve been watching. Another good series is Dinner with the Gaffigans by the American comedian, Jim Gaffigan, who films his dinner table conversations with fellow comedian and wife, Jeannie, and their five kids in lockdown in New York City. There is a lot of dreck on YouTube, just as there is on social media and the Internet in general, but I hope these mentions show that there is also a lot of good stuff worth watching to expand the mind and lift your spirits.

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