Friday, June 26, 2020

Stream for the Moment

What is it we love about Twitch streaming? What gets us to sit down, prep a show and press the Go Live button day in and day out? Often we aren't being paid to do it, and the vast majority of those who do monetize don't make anywhere near a living wage from our broadcasts. The preparation, post-show and streaming processes take an incredible amount of time and energy, requiring us to devote ourselves on the level of another work or school commitment- often dozens of hours a week. We face several of our fears every time we go in front of an audience- performance anxiety, stage fright, sometimes outright harassment. All in all, this whole pastime is incredibly taxing in several aspects of our lives. So I ask again, what is it we love about Twitch streaming? 

The answer will vary for each of us, but to me it's clear: We're creating something out of nothing.

As streamers, we have the audacity to enter a very crowded space and plant something of our own. We say, "Here I am, this is what I've made," and we invite others to be a part of it. And you know what? Despite the field being packed with thousands of others creating their own projects, people do join our budding little channels. Starting from the smallest seedling, each of our creations invariably ends up being unique and valuable not only to ourselves but to others as well. Every one of us who takes this leap, who has the courage to stake their claim and stick through the hardships, has created something with its own look, feel, style and personality. We can gaze upon our content in a month, or a year, or ten years and say, "This is what I created. Look how it has grown." To me, there's no idea more rewarding.

Have you stopped to smell the roses lately? Have you considered why you personally love streaming? 


We're all trying to create something great, and in that long grind we can often lose the forest for the trees. Each show has to be better, and each week we're trying to add, refine, or customize something or other. We can get so caught up in the details that we never slow down enough to truly enjoy the here and now. Think about the most recent stream you made. Pick something about it that you truly loved. Maybe it was the way you conducted yourself, a funny joke you told, or an excellent play you made. It could be that you simply take pride in your most recent show going off without a hitch, no errors in sight. Possibly you're happy about the way you handled a tough situation in chat, or brightened someone else's day. Forget, for the time being, all the things about that stream you didn't like and focus just on that one aspect of your most recent show that you're proud of. Give yourself a moment to appreciate the things that you get to do, the people you get to meet, and the zen state of creating something all your own. 

Rock on!
I think about this concept often. When you're out there doing your thing, there's nothing else but the stream. It's almost like streaming itself is a form of meditation. Sole focus. For all the chaos, excitement and unpredictability of actually making a show happen, all my energies are always directed toward a single fixed point. Making content. As Ryan Gosling says in La La Land, "It's conflict and it's compromise, and it's brand new every night. It's very, very exciting." Make sure you aren't too caught up in the grind of improving your channel to appreciate the simple pleasure of creating your content for its own sake. 


Consider Jiro Ono, who you're probably familiar with from the excellent documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi. This 94-year old culinary artisan has been making sushi day in and day out since he was nine years old. He simply fell in love with his trade and aspired each day only to be a tiny bit better at his craft than the day before. After opening a modest ten-seat sushi restaurant in the corner of a subway station, Jiro quietly did exactly as he set out to do. He got a little bit better every day. For 60 years straight. If you've seen the film, you know what comes next. Jiro's shop attained a perfect 3 Michelin star rating, the man himself has been recognized by the Japanese government as a national treasure, and the 10-minute dining experience at his restaurant (which still only has 10 seats) would cost you $400 USD if it weren't impossible to get a reservation. 

And then of course there's that other master artisan who we all know and love: Spongebob Squarepants. Like Jiro, Spongebob never aspired to be the owner of a hamburger conglomerate, or use his first job at the Krusty Krab as a stepping stone to claw his way to the top. From the outset, Spongebob aspired to be a fry cook. It's the thing he loved doing, and every day he was excited to get to do it again. He lived for the simple act of working on his craft, and became acclaimed at what he did (even beating the ocean god Neptune himself in a cook-off) by simply living in the moment. 


Focus on your craft.
So don't always worry about furiously adding, removing, boosting and measuring things on your channel. If you want to relax on certain days, being content in what you do is enough. Time spent doing something you love is never wasted. As long as you keep moving forward and don't skip days, you will continue growing no matter how many tricks you employ behind the scenes. Don't forget that Twitch streaming is about the journey. Whatever finish line you think is out there will only change to another, less attainable finish line once you reach it. The only way out of this deadly loop is to stop playing for a prize. Stream for the moment and you'll find out just how happy you can be. 

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