Why can I not stop binge-watching daily vlogs?

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Whether it’s voyeurism or distraction, watching a stranger’s mundane life unfold via short videos is strangely soothing



Sneha Jain woke up late this Tuesday. In the morning rush, the 20-something Mumbai resident headed to her fashion college in Crocs, not the best decision, according to her, in “Bombay winter” season. She decided to take an auto instead of the local train to avoid missing her 10.30am lecture. After class, she had her favourite dosa for breakfast at a nearby kiosk. By 4pm, she was in the local train, headed back home. She broke her journey to grab a McDonald’s soft serve and then took an autorickshaw home. For dinner, she made instant noodles. The next two hours were spent watching Reels, reading a book. Close to midnight, she told her 76,000 Instagram followers, “Goodnight. Kal milte hai (let’s meet tomorrow).”

Welcome to the life of daily vloggers. This new crop of content creators follows the old “Day In My Life” formula, offering a play-by-play account of what they did during the day on social media. But unlike the aesthetically pleasing, Pinterest-inspired daily vlogs that we became used to during the pandemic, this new batch is offering a slice of their life in a not so tightly edited form. Out with the colourful salad bowls, clean beds, step-by-step beauty routines and regimented way of spending time. In are messy dressing tables, shabby hair and sleeping with make-up on.

“When it comes to vlogging in India, shooting with drones, different cameras and keeping the aesthetics in mind has taken a backseat in the past few months,” agrees Rohit Raj, the founder and chief executive of BB ki Vines Productions, a production house. He has worked in the content creator economy for over 10 years. “People, especially youngsters, want to film on the go. Vlogging requires too much effort with editing, adding music, filming. Creators don’t want to invest so much time; they are more concerned with putting content out every day, and that’s what keeps their videos more real.”

And that’s what makes them more attractive. Every day, I get close to 10 alerts telling me that different vloggers have posted Reels. In those two-three hours, I know what Jain ate for breakfast. I, along with 32,000 others on Instagram, also learn that Delhi-based Miss Suman, who uses only one name, was upset over something her brother said and decided to spend some time putting on Korean make-up with her mother. And Goldie, a Golden Retriever in Germany, much to the dismay of his 100,000 Instagram followers, had a fever and didn’t accompany his pet parent to the office.

What I don’t know is why I am hooked to them. Of course, there’s voyeurism in seeing how people live their real lives. Plus, watching someone else’s day go by can help you zone out from your own mundane life. It’s mind-numbing entertainment as well.

It’s a source of pleasure, explains Raj. “Watching daily vlogs is like watching Big Boss. You get to see the inside world of strangers, their family, their way of living… it’s a world far away from you and it’s entertaining,” he says. “These vlogs are programmed to come at a fixed time every day. So, in a way, the follower gets into a habit of expecting fresh content at that hour. Plus, when you see regular people become big and famous (through endorsements, etc.), you feel happy for them. It’s like you helped an unknown person become known.”

Perhaps the biggest draw of these “real” Reels is that, at heart, they raise a question we ask ourselves every other day: What are we doing with our lives?

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