“It allows us to make social comparisons, learn new things, and deal with boredom,” Turel says. “It’s easier to connect with someone more on our level than someone who’s a celebrity.”
Daily vlogs also often offer a touch of surprise — it can be as small as a change in toothpaste taste — and Turel says variability provides a dose of dopamine.
Melissa Qiu was initially concerned about sharing her life, but she found that people enjoy learning about her study routine and dentistry. It also benefits her because it motivates her to focus and work hard, and she values her memories more than she used to.
“I like to look back and see my progress, almost as if I am my own biggest fan. It is literally a biography for myself.”
Ginny Dougherty, a 27-year-old brand manager, has been posting a vlog every day since November. Initially, she did it to keep family and friends in New Zealand informed about her life in Sydney. Her first entry covered themes that are still alive today: the gym, reading in the sun, losing keys, and the nail salon. She was shocked when she started gaining followers (she now has 8700).
She admits it’s “a weird phenomenon” letting strangers know how she spends each day, but she loves vlogging and says the videos can be filmed, edited and narrated quickly. “Will I be doing this in 10 years?” asks Dougherty. “I am a creature of habit. For now I am so happy to do it daily. The moment I notice that other things in my life are slipping away, I stop.”
A sense of mindfulness can come from vlogging. The phrase “romanticize your life” has become popular on TikTok, encouraging people to see the beauty in small, even banal moments.
Dougherty says she notices a lot more highlights in her day than before.
“It has made me more grateful,” Dougherty says. “To get out of the lockdown it’s just been such a noise. I loved thinking about it like a little diary.”
There is a paradox, Oscar says: “At the same time, TikTok actually slows things down faster. You are constantly presented with a new video.” But as long as recording doesn’t become obsessive, she loves to see people pay attention to things that usually go unnoticed.
Social media is in full swing, moving away from the feeling of being hyper-polished and entering a “casual” phase. That’s why the Instagram “photo dump” has been huge. It involves people sharing recent glimpses of their lives in a seemingly random and raw way: a blurry photo at a wild birthday party, a selfie on the couch with a partner, a bulldog in the park.
Day-in-life vlogs are much the same: they have to feel authentic. Of course some will be more or less than others.
Darcy O’Malley, a 27-year-old business analyst from Perth, has been posting a daily vlog every day since February.
“I saw Instagram Reels and TikToks of perfectly curated days, waking up at 5 a.m., drinking a lemon water, going to the gym and while I really enjoyed that, it’s not real life,” says O’Malley. “I found myself getting jealous.”
She felt there would be a need for less glamorous vlogs. Her videos laced with humor now has over 25,000 TikTok followers. “I go to work every day. I try to be healthy. I try to be fit. I try to save money,” she says.
Vlogging has become a hobby and while she can’t make money from it yet, she’s open to the idea – she just doesn’t want to lose her authenticity. “I don’t want to start and do things purely for content,” says O’Malley. “I feel like I would lose a sense of myself and that’s not why I started this.”
Brands and celebrities (think Bella Hadid and Addison Rae) are also following the trend. Melbourne-based Laura Henshaw, chief executive of health app Keep It Cleaner, started making TikTok day-in-the-life vlogs late last year. She’s no stranger: She and co-founder Steph Claire Smith did them for YouTube about three years ago, but she says they were time-consuming.
Daily TikTok vlogs are easier to create, adding only about 30 minutes to her day, Henshaw says, and helping her connect with her community by sharing what goes on behind the scenes at her work.
“People just crave really recognizable, vulnerable, and real content,” she says.
“It’s my whole day, but there’s still the caveat that” [generally] they are the best moments of the day.”
What is excluded? Anything that could be useless, she says, as every meal shows.
Henshaw herself notices that she loves watching vlogs. “Even people I don’t follow, I only watch a minute of their day and I don’t know why,” she says. “I think it’s just interesting to get an insight into someone’s life.”
Qiu says she won’t change the events of a chosen day to create a more engaging vlog, but she prefers to plot out the photos she will take.
“While TikTok is less polished, there is still an element of planning involved,” says Qiu.
Like the Instagram photo dump, it’s somewhat inevitable that TikTok vlogs are intentionally curated, even if the idea has to be real, Oscar says.
“There’s a decision to point your camera at yourself while eating a croissant or panning through your messy apartment or showing off your skincare routine,” Oscar says.
Turel is not convinced that pure authenticity is possible on social media. On an unconscious level, people always make choices to present themselves in a certain way, he says. Motivations can vary: it can be commercial, it can be a desire for more views, even wanting to appear authentic is a motivation in itself.
But he believes daily vlogs fill a void that reality TV created when viewers understood that their favorite shows were heavily made up.
†[Vlogs] at the very least try or pretend to be authentic and realistic. In any case, there are no production companies behind it.”
Some criticize it as self-centered. Qiu has been on the receiving end of negative comments and says it can be difficult. “Some people hate the way you portray your life, think you share too much or idealize things.”
Women are vlogging more often than men, and Oscar is questioning some of the criticism.
†[Women have] has been viewed in photographs, paintings and pornography throughout history, but when ‘she’ represents herself…she is labeled as narcissistic. Are men seen as involved in? [vlogging] or is it considered a symptom of masculinity? I’m not so sure.”
TikTok is a platform that has invited normal people to “be the main character”. And as Ginny Dougherty says, “Ultimately, everyone is at the center of their own universe.”
TikTok – let’s talk about it
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