It’s been three years since the last “Gaming with Rosa” video went up on the channel. Though I’m sure you some of you don’t mind watching the same video of me and my friends playing stupid Pokemon Stadium minigames over and over, it’s probably time I told you why I disappeared from the internet.
If you were still holding out hope I’d come back, sorry, I hung up the ol’ mic and headphones for good. Eric, Emily, Taylor, and I had a blast playing games and making videos and podcasts, and it went better than we could have imagined. We even got one of those silly YouTube Play Button Awards! How could there possibly be 100,000 of you willing to put up with me and my stupid friends every day? It was an honor.
More than anything, I cherished all the fan mail I got in my P.O. Box. I’ve always loved opening letters. I couldn’t wait to slice the envelopes open (everyone should get a little sword-shaped letter opener like mine, it’s awesome), unfold the paper, and read what I got. I’m not sure I ever got a letter that was mean (they’re nothing like YouTube comments!) and I cried a little while reading most of them, they were so sweet.
I remember the first fan letter I ever got. I stuck it on my fridge back when I was doing the videos from my parents’ house. It was a colored pencil drawing of me, my headphones, and a keyboard, with “See you cool guys” written out to the side. I’m not sure I’ve ever told you all this before, but I said that phrase, “See you cool guys,” out of pure nervousness at the end of my very first video. Just made it up, had no idea what to say to close out the recording. I think it was a video of my friends and me doing a WoW raid, but I’m too embarrassed to check right now. Anyway, Emily made fun of me for saying it, so that’s why I decided to say it at the end of every video on the channel, as an inside joke about my awkwardness. Eventually it became routine and didn’t even seem like a joke anymore, just a silly trademark.
But unfortunately, I had to stop making videos. I realized I couldn’t give you, the subscribers, what you wanted.
So I went back to school for a master’s degree and became a high school counselor.
This will be hard to explain, but I decided to go back to school and get this job because of the fan letters you guys sent me every day. They made me realize something.
For most of you, my videos and podcasts were simply entertainment. My channel gave you two hours a day you could forget other stuff, relax, and watch my friends and I play some games. But there’s no shortage of that online. I’m sure you’ve moved on to another channel by now.
For some of you, my videos were a good way to figure out which games you should buy. I’m glad, but it’s not what I want to devote my life to. I’ve never been a game reviewer or a journalist, and it made me feel bad when a developer would send me a game for free or even pay me to make a video. I could never figure out what I was supposed to do in those situations, and if I had a responsibility to present an unbiased… Well, they’re not reviews, they’re just videos of my friends and I playing a game and messing around. That was a weird situation.
A few of you wrote and said you listen to my voice to help fall asleep, and I was touched by that. I’ve had sleep problems before, so I get that, and I’m glad you like my voice, or find it calming or whatever. That’s probably the main reason I left all my videos and podcasts online after I quit. I know it sucks that they’re not new, but hopefully you can still cycle through them and get to sleep.
But the letters I’m talking about, the ones that inspired me to take on my new job, were different. I think it first hit me when I was doing an Extra Life charity livestream. A lot of you would send the charity donations with these messages attached, usually expressing gratitude or talking about how important my videos were to you. It was sweet, but so many of the messages came tinged with dark little corners: “Thank you for your videos, I can’t wait to get home every day so I can watch them and forget about school.” “Your channel really helped me when my parents got divorced.” “Watching you has carried me through a lot of tough times.” It wasn’t until that livestream put them all one right after another that I realized 90% of my letters and YouTube comments say stuff like this. Why all this darkness on a gaming channel? If my channel was so great, why were all my subscribers unhappy people?
Those messages made me think a lot about what I was doing. What was it about my videos that people liked? I wasn’t all that funny. I wasn’t a supermodel just waiting to be discovered. I wasn’t even that good at games. I was just playing around with my friends. Anyone could do that.
But no, they can’t. Not everyone has a group of friends to play with. Not everyone has a group of people they can just hang out with whenever they want. That’s what my channel was about: I was a surrogate friend for 100,000 lonely people. That was why none of you ever complained about the quality of the videos. You didn’t care if I sucked at a game or I wasn’t funny or the game wasn’t interesting. You didn’t even care if the video was about a game! That stupid video where all I did was go through my groceries got 300,000 views! Once I realized my videos were a replacement for real-life friends and social interaction, I couldn’t keep doing them.
Real friendships are two-way. You talk to them, and they talk to you. You give them stuff on their birthday, and they give you stuff on your birthday.
My relationship with subscribers was one-way. One time I mentioned on camera that I liked regular Lipton green tea, and within days my P.O. Box was crammed full of it. I got more green tea than I will ever drink sent to me that month. And the bunny stuff! I started with just the bunny ear headphones, and of course the actual bunny in the background (RIP Tsukino the Bunny), but by the time I stopped making videos basically everything in that room where I record was bunny-themed, all gifts from you guys. It’s awesome, but it makes me feel awful sometimes. It’s like I have six figures of awesome friends and I don’t bother to remember their birthdays.
Reading your letters made me realize how many people there are dealing with depression and loneliness, and I wanted to give back, to help. And there was just no way to do that through the medium of YouTube. I hope you understand.
I’m sure a lot of you were counting on me and I failed you. I’m so sorry if I stripped away anyone’s coping mechanism. I can only hope you found a new happy place, or new friends, or got professional help.
I don’t know how much I really help the students in my counselor job, but I’m doing my best, and maybe it’ll lead to another job where I have a larger impact and a little more freedom in what I can do. But I didn’t want to be a normal therapist, because the people watching my videos weren’t all going to therapy. They couldn’t be, there are too many of them. And they weren’t necessarily diagnosed with depression. They were just dealing with normal everyday sadness because they didn’t have a community of their own. At the high school, I get to talk every day to young guys and girls like you, my subscribers, and try to find them a community, whether it’s the right college, or a church group, or you know, sometimes they just need to find three other kids that smoke pot. It’s not legal here yet and probably won’t ever be for high school kids, but for some kids it’s the first real community they get to be a part of. Human beings like us weren’t meant to live alone, with videos on and earbuds in. You have to make friends, real people you can hang out with and play dumb N64 games.
So again, I’m not coming back to YouTube. My subreddit will stay up forever, probably, and I’m glad to see some people still on there. I will just ask that please no one send me any more fan letters or packages. I’m finally going to close my P.O. box this month. I didn’t want to do it without saying goodbye.
I still get letters, but they just sit on my dining room table. I don’t know what to do with them, and I’m afraid of what they might say inside. I can’t open them. What if you need me and I can’t help? What if you’re still sending me things for nothing in return?
What if you beg me to come back?
See you cool guys.