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When You Have No Internet at an Internet Conference | VidCon 2016

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VidCon is one of my all-time favorite experiences. Its 7th conference in 2016 was my 5th time attending, and I can’t see myself changing my annual West Coast excursion anytime soon. And while I could recount all the crazy, amazing, and thought-provoking things I experienced on the blog for you, I thought I’d give you a little vignette of my experience and some thoughts I had while at the conference instead.

I’ve learned the hard way that the more expensive a hotel is, the less likely it is that you’ll have access to free Wi-Fi. You would think that if you pay that much for a hotel then some basic Internet should be included, right? Well, that’s not how it works, and I mistakenly assumed so when checking into the Anaheim Marriott for the conference last Wednesday. I had planned on finishing my weekly vlog and uploading on Thursday like normal, but the lack of Internet put some serious brakes on those plans. However, it opened up a whole new avenue in another way. The lack of free Wi-Fi in the hotel coupled with slow Wi-Fi in the convention center and 4G LTE data bogged down with traffic meant that I had very little access to the Internet during my time at VidCon. And not having Internet at a conference that’s basically geared towards Internet content creators seems kind of crazy.

But rather than agonize over buffering videos and upsettingly slow-to-load webpages, I put down my phone a lot more than usual and really experienced the conference. I still took lots of pictures to document the moment, but I didn’t worry so much about posting them all “in the moment” and now have several days worth of fun photos to post and reminisce about now that I’m back on the East Coast and working all day long.

VidCon is in many ways a very “meta” conference where the worlds you see and feel a part of through online video converge with your “IRL” reality. Suddenly you’re in YouTube vlogs or Snapchat stories or Instagram posts of people you’ve only ever known through the Internet and it feels surreal. So to not have Internet while at a conference like this and to be forced to take a step back from the glass we all have our faces’ plastered against in our attempts at seeing a more beautiful world through a photo filter, means we can see how on the one hand, we all look ridiculous in our attempts at online validation, but also how we create a world connected in ways we never could have been previously.

It’s a weird Internet world we live in. And at VidCon we actively take on the roles of both the voyeur and the one viewed. I just so happened to take an extra step back to see both the viewers and viewed at the same time, showing how weird and crazy our culture is. And of course, only made me love it more.

Until next year VidCon!
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Processing Tragedy: A Look at the Communities Affected by the Orlando Massacre and Christina Grimmie’s Death

Processing Tragedy

This past weekend we experienced a lot of death in America. And it ripped holes into the hearts and faiths of so many people and communities.

When something awful—something tragic—like this happens, you feel it. Even if you’re not directly related to it, you still feel the tremors emanating out. Unwarranted death doesn’t go unnoticed. It may go un-acted upon, but it’s always noticed. But when you’re part of the community on which an act of hate is performed, it rocks you to your core.

I felt that heart-splintering earthquake on Saturday when I awoke to a flood of panic and mourning on my Facebook feed about the death of Christina Grimmie. Before she was on the Voice and really gained more mainstream fame, she was a YouTuber. I had the privilege of hearing her perform at my first VidCon in 2012. I remember loving her hair and using her picture as an example for my hairstylist. I remember being so in awe that this girl who was younger than me had such unquenchable talent and had gained an impressive YouTube presence. I remember thinking that she would go so far.

And she did. And she would most likely continued on had she not been murdered. But she was. And those of us in the YouTube community—whether direct fans or not—are left reeling with the shock and the chaos and the questions of our safety. One of the joys of YouTube is that there generally isn’t the same kind of line drawn between you as a viewer or fan and the creator like there is with traditional celebrities. It comes in part from YouTube’s culture of breaking the 4th wall and talking directly to the camera, but also because the people who became YouTube’s first “stars” are just normal people who happened to make really interesting video content and put it online. Most people who consider themselves “YouTubers” know who Christina Grimmie is and have a decent amount of respect for her talents and accomplishments. Which caused my social media feeds to fill with people trying to make sense of their emotions after this horrifying incident. We lay blame. We question security efforts. We look for motives. We demonize groups. We christen heroes.

It doesn’t change the death. But it gives us something to cling on to.

And then 49 people die in an Orlando bar with many more severely injured a little over 24 hours later. This time, the horror cuts right through the LGBTQ community—one I’m not directly a part of but am close to many who are. Many people I know who are a part of both those communities, and all I can think is that there is so much death in such a short period of time. And there’s so much anger. And so many thoughtless “thoughts and prayers.” And so much confusion. And so much blame laid in one place or another—religion, guns, security, social persecution.

I know why people cry out for gun reform. It seems sick that a man who’s been interviewed by the FBI twice could get his hands on a kind of weapon designed specifically for killing as many people as quickly as possible. Or really, that anyone outside of the military would have need for a weapon like that (barring those who stockpile for the apocalypse).

I also know why others cry out in defense of their right to have guns. Bad guys will get guns one way or another. The right to own a weapon seems more important than ever as the government becomes more convoluted and seemingly out for itself more than for its people.

But mostly, I know that people are hurting. And this hurt and tragedy has been happening with increasing fervor in recent years. And I understand that people want to find a way to make this hurt stop.

So how do we make it stop?

Working together seems like a good place to start. I liked reading about Chick-fil-A working on a Sunday to cook and deliver chicken sandwiches to the hundreds of people waiting for hours to donate blood to the victims of the Pulse shooting despite the company’s strong public stance against homosexuality. That’s loving your neighbor.

These tragedies are enacted in order to cause pain, hate, and confusion. And we more often than not, allow it to do just that. We fight over gun laws. Assume there’s a hidden agenda. Accuse prominent politicians of conspiracy. We let it break us—widening the cracks in our foundation a little more.

All I can ask, as a member of a community that’s been hard struck this weekend, is that you might think for a moment before you call out hate—what you may not even believe to be hate. Pretend for a moment that you’re a part of the community that’s been targeted. Or think for a moment as a person on the opposite if you are in an affected community. Try to see what they see. Try to feel what they feel. Then before you speak. Pause a moment. Breathe. Think.

Then speak.

 

 

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All the Things You Can Do When You Stop Procrastinating

Stop Procrastinating

Admittedly, I procrastinated on writing this blog. I had the “aha!” moment, but for some reason I just couldn’t sit down and write it out. I’ve been doing that a lot recently. Especially with my blog writing. I think I may have finally come to a place of being so overwhelmed with life and commitments that I just freeze. People have always asked, “Oh Kaitlyn! How do you keep it all up?” Well, here’s your answer. I don’t know. It takes motivation and feeling like I have control of my life. I’ve felt very out of control of life recently so I’ve started to lose grip on things I love—like blog writing.

And in another tidbit of truth, once I started writing, I felt immensely better. I like blog writing even if it sometimes feels like a chore the last few weeks—one that I’ve purposefully procrastinated about until I had to give up on it altogether.

But this blog isn’t about blog writing procrastination, although it certainly applies. It’s about procrastination in general.

Are you a procrastinator? If you talked to me in high school, I would have answered that with a strong “NO! Never!” I’ve never been the type of person to start my term paper the night before or pull an all-nighter to study for an exam. In fact, as a teenager, I tended to view my peers who would wait until the last second with a bit of disdain. Having experienced the type of heart-clenchingly debilitating fear of failure that has resulted in extreme procrastination about important life things, I’m rather embarrassed about my ignorance toward the plight of procrastinators.

Because procrastination sucks. And if you’re procrastinating, you know it sucks. And you don’t want to be procrastinating, but it feels like the only way for you to handle the onslaught of confusing emotions that whatever you need to be doing is causing you.

People telling you to stop procrastinating doesn’t help. Telling yourself there’s no reason to procrastinate doesn’t help. Being reprimanded or punished or experiencing the lack of sleep that comes with procrastinating to the last minute doesn’t have any bearing on your ability to stop procrastinating in the future. As far as I’ve been able to learn, the only way to stop procrastinating is to prove to yourself that you can do whatever it is that you’re procrastinating about. This is a slow process. You have to take one tiny step at a time, find some success, and then take a slightly bigger step and so forth. Fortunately, it tends to work exponentially as one success leads to another and your fear dissipates until you’ve completed the task that you were so overwhelmed with.

For me, my most recent procrastination triumph is an updated demo reel. I’ve literally been trying to create a new one for a year with no success. I’d take a half step forward and then stop because I’d hit a wall of fear and self-doubt (which sometimes turned into self-loathing). But last week, I NEEDED to create a demo reel. I’m going to be a making a lot of life changes this September, and to prepare for that, I need to get my act together! That starts with a new job and a new city and putting my best foot forward to accomplish these things. So how could I create something in one week that up to that point had been a yearlong black hole of anxiety?

In this case, I combined determination and taking a new approach. One of the reasons I kept getting stuck was because I was always starting with the hardest part. Honestly, I thought it should be easy and was how I HAD to start; therefore, derailing myself as I agonized over its need for perfection. So this time, I left the hard part for last and found I could accomplish the important 90% of the project much quicker than I thought! That unexpected accomplishment boosted my confidence so that I went into the notoriously hard and agonizing part with excitement to finish it.

What’s scary is that I don’t know if this success will necessarily help me stop future procrastination. I can certainly look back and see that circumventing the parts that cause me anxiety can help me, but I still feel like there are going to be situations where the fear and the self-doubt want to take over. We all have that, don’t we? The key is to always try looking at it from new angles and be our own cheerleaders. Because look how much stuff we CAN get done if we don’t procrastinate! If we don’t give in to the mean little voices in the back of our heads, there’s no telling what we’ll be able to accomplish.

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If you want to check it out, here’s my new demo reel:

And for reference, here’s my previous demo reel:

A lot has changed, hasn’t it? Definitely worth the upgrade, I just wish I could have done it sooner! But I’m celebrating that it is now accomplished and the confidence it gives me to not wait so long to update it in the future.