Sunday, May 8, 2022

One Must Imagine the Streamer Happy

You’ve probably felt self-conscious about your channel at some point in your Twitch career. There’s no shame in it- it happens to all of us. Streaming and self-consciousness just sort of go hand in hand. Because no matter how big you are, there’s always going to be somebody with more followers, better content, a livelier chat, or a more interesting personality. Yet as creators, we’re always putting ourselves in motion, working toward the next goal or the next exciting project. Some of us do so because we want to, and a much larger percentage of others expand because they feel they have to. In this entry, we’ll look at the bigger picture of streaming. We’ll consider how to find more enjoyment in the content we create right now, rather than feeling we need to grow before allowing ourselves the luxury. 


There's always another mountain
to climb.

I’ve spoken before in this resource about how elusive streaming ‘success’ can be if you define success by your channel’s metrics. No matter what target you aim for, the goal will always move further back by the time you reach its original position. For example, let’s say you just started streaming and worked hard to reach 10 followers. But then during that time, you saw other channels with many more active chatters, and all those channels had 50 followers. You might then assume that these two figures show a direct correlation- if only you could reach 50 followers, you’ll also have that amount of people talking in your chat! But once you get there, your amount of active chatters is still nowhere near the other streamer’s. Then you see another stream with 100 followers, which has all these fancy graphics. Maybe if you had fancy graphics, you’d get to 100 followers that much easier? So you have graphics drawn up and add them to your stream, but you don’t notice the needle moving much. Eventually, through the usual slow methods, you reach 100 followers. But you see someone at 200 followers with all sorts of giveaways and donation goals, and they’re making a lot of money! So you set up those same kinds of promotions on your own channel, but you end up losing more than you gain. Why does it feel like your channel is consistently failing where others of a similar size are succeeding?

It’s because in this scenario, you (as many new streamers do) are assigning a lot more significance to the follower count than it really merits. Because the amount of followers is displayed as a nice, big number on the front of every Twitch channel, it’s easy to measure all other things by it. That’s the ‘success’ that streamers aim for, but it doesn’t really correlate to much. The 50-follower streamer in the example has an active chat because they’re personable. The 100-follower streamer has fancy graphics because they like to design logos in their spare time. The 200-follower streamer is great at promotion. They don’t get those results because of the sizes of their channels, they get them by working hard on the aspects of their streams that most interest them. Every streamer likes certain parts of the craft better than others. It’s only by finding those things and focusing on them that we can truly become content with our broadcasts. Don’t look to the size of your channel to give you meaning. If you find meaning right now, you won’t care how big the channel is, and it’ll grow anyway. 


In Greek mythology, Sisyphus was an overly ambitious man who cheated the gods. As punishment, Hades stranded him in the underworld, where he was doomed to push a heavy boulder up a mountain, only for it to roll back down again when he neared the top. He would toil endlessly, without ever seeing his task completed- the ultimate frustration for someone of ambition like him. In modernity, this legend is applied to many things throughout daily life. A ‘Sisyphean task’ can be any endless grind, with no end in sight- going to work every day, being short on money, mowing the lawn, or buying groceries, for example. As soon as these things seem like they’re finished, it’s only a matter of time until they need to be done again. 

Sisyphus would have been a fun
inclusion in the God of War series.

Twitch streaming is another Sisyphean task. There’s really no finish line, only a constant stream of effort. But like any Sisyphean ordeal, your quality of life comes not necessarily from finishing the task, but how you perceive the task. If you rush as fast as you can, with the sole objective of reaching higher and higher points on the mountain of Twitch followers, dejection is likely to set in eventually. There will always be more distance to cover, and even when it looks like you’re near the top, you’ll see that you’re really only at the beginning of another climb. But if you can find a way to enjoy what you’re doing right now, at whatever pace you choose, it doesn’t matter that the task is endless. That’s how you beat the system, whether you’re streaming or doing anything else. As French philosopher Albert Camus famously posited, “One must imagine Sisyphus happy.” That’s the only way the Greek hero could have escaped the punishment the gods intended- not by finally getting his boulder to the top, but by learning to love the act of pushing it forward. 

Don’t put off your love of streaming in order to grow faster. Look inwards and find what you love about it right now. The task has no end. As long as you stay on Twitch, you will always be pushing the boulder uphill. But if you keep your passions at the center of the streams you create, you’ll look forward to that climb every day. 

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