Speaking Up for the Shy- Not Everyone Wants to Vlog

There are a lot of narcissists on the Internet.

Well, it’s not just narcissists. There are also gifted performers with something to say. Their vlogs are actually quite interesting. Some achieve the rare and brilliant balance of informing while entertaining and promoting dialogue.

But an awful lot of folks out there don’t have much to say except “hey look at me, look at me, look at MEEEEEEEE!”

Why Vlogging Can Be Good for PR

Now, there’s no doubt that vlogging can be an invaluable tool, particularly in the field of PR. It is a great, shiny and newish tool for our ever-expanding toolkit. We can use it in a variety of ways- interviewing key influencers and industry thought leaders about timely topics like how PR professionals can best utilize social media or the best and newest practices for media monitoring.

Conferences streaming over the Internet on something like Ustream, while not technically vlogging, also allow for PR practitioners to get an immediate handle on how their clients are being perceived as they are speaking. That’s a nifty bit of monitoring and will also provide PR pros with immediate feedback that will help them coach their clients more effectively.

Other Arguments for Vlogging

Additionally, there are those who argue that the use of video can humanize the Internet, that it is harder to slag or slander “face-to-face” as opposed to words. (And it can be very easy to wield words like a weapon, especially because of the distancing factor.)

And it is sort of neat that people can just present their words themselves in their own voice. In fact, one of my classmates blogged quite eloquently on this point when discussing seesmic:

You are the master of your voice in the seesmic universe. You donโ€™t have to bold, use exclamation marks or emoticons to get your point across. You can hit record and share your message the way it is intended.

On the Other Hand

But what if you are someone who is shy? Or someone who is not presentable or not confident or not articulate? What if you are someone who can express your thoughts beautifully in text but hem and haw like you’ve been hit in the head with a bat just before the camera was turned on when you must speak on video?

Vlogging has its benefits and it is where the technology is heading but does that mean there is no longer room for writing?

And does it mean that the wired world will become a landscape dotted with hair-flipping girls talking about their social schedules and what Sex and the City inspired them to buy?

I guess that means that we’ll have to keep looking for the diamonds- those who vlog articulately with purpose and meaning- amongst the mass of muck.


22 comments so far

  1. Melanie on

    This is a GREAT post! So great, I’m going to bookmark it for the course. BTW – yesterday after the class I re-recorded my crappy Eyejot video bookmark. Using a mic made a difference. Then I went over to Seesmic and asked the following question: “What’s your advice for my students (and myself) who are new to creating video and putting it online? This can be scary for many people, including myself, I’d like to know what makes all of you comfortable – what’s your advice? what’s your approach” Here is the result: http://seesmic.com/v/1pG01pApbr

  2. Melanie on

    Might you consider leaving a bit of this as a comment in the Thornley blog? That would be a very good and strategic place to share your insight!

  3. Ironic on

    Because it is all about MEEEEEE!
    How can the modern generation NOT be egotistical and unlike Narcisus?
    Everything they do is special. Everyone is great, they never make mistakes, and no one ever tells them no.
    Vlogs can be great. However, so many are just listen to me because no one does. I also find it sad that the most popular new video on Youtube is a girl doing hula hoop motions for Wii Fit. She’s going to be on TRL on MTV on THursday…doing the movements.
    Everyone wants 15 minutes.
    Times 6,000,000,000 that equals….roughly 761 more years of this…sigh.
    If you’re too shy…use a sock puppet.

  4. abbymartin on

    Ironic- you’re back!

    Also, you’re right. Though not entirely. You can’t call an entire generation egotistical (maybe the majority but I do know some members of GenY who are thoughtful and hardworking and smart and not entitled. Alas, they may be the exceptions to the rule.) That’d be like saying all Americans voted for W and all Canadians are polite. Generalization=bad.

    Can’t use a puppet- it’s been done and way better than I could ever hope to do it.

    Thank you for another funny, insightful comment. I eagerly await your next blog post.

  5. awordlessordinary on

    Hi Abby,

    It’s funny that you mention this as I was having a discussion with Mike B. about it the other day. I think you are right and it scares me.

    One of the things that I like about the internet, virtual worlds, text based chats and almost every other form of online interaction is that I don’t have to see the other person.

    The lack of ‘seeing’ the ‘physical person’ allows us to hang up our misconceptions, stereo-types and preconceived ideas at the door.

    We can then interact with each other without the preconceived notion of how someone looks, how they speak, how much money they make or a host of other intrinsic influences that clutter up interaction.

    I have a really great friend I met online and later on in real life. We’ve been buddies for about six years and here’s th problem had I seen her IRL before meeting her online we would not be friends.

    On one hand she is physically stunning and well educated. This gets her a lot of attention sometimes wanted but most times not.

    She interacts with people online because they won’t judge her on her physical appearance or make assumptions (positive or negative about her). To blunt “she can be herself.”

    From my bias I would assume that someone ‘like her’ would have been out of my ‘league’. Its an assumption that people make instinctively in the real world.

    Thus I would be robbed of the idea that we share the same interests in comics, music and Derridian theories of postmodern education in relation alternative curriculum. (tee hee)

    If Vlogging becomes the norm then I really anticipate to see a dramatic increase in MuchMusic style VJ’s Vlogging while the interest in Vlogging by everyone else will have a sharp decrease.

    Thanks for listening to the rant


  6. abbymartin on


    Not a rant at all! Just a very thoughtful comment- and one much appreciated at that.

    Hopefully the technology will be used for good and not for evil. But I fear there will be a lot of, as you so cleverly called it, “MuchMusic style VJs Vlogging.”

    I believe in the power of the word and the beauty of expression in textual form. I honestly believe one’s voice can shine through if words are put together carefully. But I also believe that people have less and less patience for reading. So I don’t know whether blogging is going the way of the dodo or not.

    If so, I will be the last dodo I guess.

  7. Brett on

    I think that a lot of blogging with eventually fade out and the novelty will where off. I think to the beginning of the semester when you couldn’t pry people off of Face Book with a blow torch (myself especially).

    Now how many people actively use to the same extent?
    We’ve gone from a Face Book feeding frenzy to a casual lunch between friends once a week.

    Even Bill Gates has admitted openly that he’s become bored with it. Will blogging go the same way? It’s hard to say.

    I think it will eventually cycle out and be replaced with a new flavor for the next five years. On a personal note … I hope its butterscotch.

  8. abbymartin on

    Hi again.

    I just woke up from an unexpected nap so let’s hope I have sufficient clarity to frame this right.

    To me, there’s a major difference between Facebook and blogging. You can use Facebook (or Skype or Twitter or FriendFeed or whatever social media floats your particular boat) to have all kinds of nifty conversations with people. And you may use a mix of those tools or move from one to another given mood or particular contact.

    But for me at least, blogging is different. It’s all about ideas and expressing them with clarity and precision (and hopefully even some beauty.) As long as there are ideas out there, I hope there will be some fascinating blogging out there.

    Besides, writing for me is not just a passion but an addiction. So I’ll likely be blogging long after anyone has stopped reading. As long as I have an idea that grips me and I hope might intrigue others- I’ll be writing.

    Like I said, I’m the last of the dodos.

  9. thatsroger on

    To Brett’s comment that blogs will eventually fade out-I don’t think blogging is going anywhere, it might change in form, but I think there is something to be said about the written word, like Abby said. Blogging has been around for a long time, I’ve had a Livejournal since 2002, which is considered decades in internet terms. I think vlogging is great for those who love it, but for me, I don’t have the patience to sit through videos to listen to someone’s point. It takes up too much time and I’d rather read someone’s blog and scan to the important points, that you so well highlight in your blog, Abby!

  10. abbymartin on

    Another voice heard! Hi Sarah.

    Thank you for making that point and making it much more articulately than I could have. It IS a lot faster to have your eye skim through text than to listen to someone drone and have your ears strain for key messages, isn’t it?

    (I’ll add that when I read your blog, I don’t skim. I love your stuff. You can tell you’ve been writing for a long time and that you are good at it. Your stuff really engages the reader.)

    Thank you also for your kind words. MUCH appreciated, especially from someone whose writing I really enjoy.


  11. Melanie on

    It’s a common misperception that anybody who records video (especially to Youtube) is just a narcissist looking for attention/fame. While this may be true for some, people said the very same thing about bloggers. The only distinction between these folks and the professionals is that they weren’t endorsed or invited to share their thoughts and ideas. A great many people around the world – including professionals educators and organisations – are using social media and video/vlogs for business, social change, learning and the exchange of ideas. I, for one, feel nervous about making video but the value of idea exchange and collaboration far outweighs fears. For me, the passion to engage in ideas and collaboration with people in various parts of the world is the real thrill. That, and creating content that somebody else might benefit from. Granted, some of us are more comfortable in front of a camera than others. It’s important to consider this and respect this. But it’s also important for those who are NOT comfortable to be equally respectful of those who are. Most of the people who accuse video makers and bloggers of being self indulgent, narcissistic and etc are not making any content of their own. It’s much easier to mock people from the sidelines than to be a brave person and give something that scares you a try. Just my two cents.

  12. Melanie on

    Also, “Ironic” – I dare you to make a video and post it online. That, or to engage in an online discussion about a topic close to your heart – this one. I honestly think it would make for a fascinating discussion (as you are not alone in your views). This is a genuine dare – you might discover something new in the process. Think about it … consider it.

  13. Ironic on

    Oh, a dare…I’ve already done it. With my students (high school) we’ve done online journaling and recording.
    However, Melanie, I assume that you are not used to the American Hipster scene (though I can imagine the Canadian Hipster scene is the same), where a vlog is truly self-indulgent. Case in point, there is a Minnesotan who vlogs the State of the Union addresses with his own commentary. This is merely him putting his opinion across. Beyond that, he ERASES any negative comment that goes against his own.
    I also see the high school generation vlogs, blogs, and social networks a great deal, and many of them stand as “If it ain’t about me, I don’t care,” or, “This is MEEE!”
    I see where you’re coming from about the idea of it helping from a business standpoint, but it’s naive to think that narcissists aren’t out there.

  14. abbymartin on

    Melanie, Ironic-

    You’re both smart people and you’re both educators and you’re both right in a sense and you both can agree to disagree, no? yes? please?

    Otherwise I’m going to have to put my “mom” hat on and give y’all time outs in separate corners. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    (I think if you met, you’d enjoy talking this out into the wee hours of the morning. And I am not a fan of “hipsters” no matter where they live. FYI.)

    Though I must say that it’s neat to see that this topic has generated this much discussion. I’m glad it has got people thinking. That’s exciting!

  15. Melanie on


    I so TOTALLY hear where you’re coming from on the hipster, self indulgence and vlogging thing. I once tuned in to a woman vlogging from New York who was (apparently) “famous” as a vlogger. She was droll, smug, bored and … boring. She even took a cell phone call during the streaming. She might well have just turned the camera off or waved at the audience or something. But she just lit a cigarette and droned on. You might like this post I wrote:

    Hey Abby! ๐Ÿ™‚

    I hadn’t presumed any lack of goodwill on Ironic’s part, nor – I hope, on mine ๐Ÿ™‚

    He posted some provocative points and I challenged him. My general response to provocative stuff is that it’s OK to be equally provocative in return. The kind of people who feel confident enough to post strong opinions can generally take the response. In my experience …

    That said, I realise these things don’t always translate.

    Lastly, that’s an interesting point you make about scanning text. You’re right that it takes less time than waiting for somebody to “make their point” and – more importantly – not knowing where they’re going with it! You are also right that you cannot scan a video for keypoints – unless you’re brodcasting using a tool that shows those keypoints. The TED talks have that feature. It’s quite nice. Pull the scroll bar on the video below. It breaks the video into key points:

    For some existing issues with tech, it’s sometimes only a matter of weeks or months before the problem can be augmented or improved.

  16. bibliothecaire on

    Part of me thinks this is true of any media, and we’re pointing the finger at the latest version because our usual gatekeepers aren’t involved as filters.

    Another part of me regrets the change from writing to video, since I would far rather read than view (have you ever tried to skim a recording?) — but I’m very, very text-based and acknowledge my bias.

  17. abbymartin on

    Bibliothecaire- welcome back! Good to hear from you again.

    I have to confess that I share your bias for text over video (that was probably pretty clear though, eh?)

    I’d much rather read than view, especially as many people seem to put a lot more thought into what they write than what they say. But tools like Seesmic may change this. I remain open- skeptical- but open.

  18. Mim on

    If you add this plug-in, I believe I/others can post a video comment… Game?


    lemme know,

  19. abbymartin on


    We’ll see….It would be a treat to have you present and speaking on this blog!

    So we’ll see….watch this space…..

  20. Mim on

    Ah ha!
    Kyla helped me and I made a vlogette.

    It ain’t “all that,” but see if you can find it here: http://seesmic.com/v/uhjBKYQFY3

    yours in Just Doin’ It.


  21. abbymartin on

    Hey Mim!

    Thank you for helping drag me into the 21st Century!

    And thank you for a lovely comment.

    I thought it was “all that” – so there.

    I’ll consider giving it a try. Consider being the key word. ๐Ÿ™‚


  22. abbymartin on

    Tried sending a private vlog to MMB.

    Can’t say I loved it. I think blogging is much more for me. I really do love prose.

    But at least I tried and I know what it feels like.


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