One criticism frequently leveled at vloggers, especially daily vloggers, is that their content can read as narcissistic or even vain. Critics like to point to the perceived hubris involved in presenting your daily life as entertainment for others. It’s a painfully reductive way to look at a new means of personal expression, but that criticism still lingers in the popular imagination. That’s why it’s exciting whenever we see someone putting the tools of vlogging to a new use. In a recent video, YouTube channel QuietAssassins shared both their vlogging camera and their audience with Sandy, a homeless resident of their native Austin, to let him document a day in his somewhat atypical life.
Sandy and Joseph Costello, the man behind QuietAssassins, have worked together before on prank and social experiment videos, but this is the first time Sandy has taken the wheel to show viewers his world. It’s certainly not a romantic glimpse. Sandy’s life is fraught with hardships from freezing cold sleeping temperatures to lack of food and adequate medical care. However, also absent is any evidence of societies harshest stereotypes about the long-term homeless. Sandy doesn’t use drugs or alcohol, or show any signs of intellectual or emotional impairment. He is, however, interested in the world, using a local library to stay connected to current events.
In some cases vlogging can be a narcissistic and even self-aggrandizing pursuit. However it’s not egomaniacs who have driven the massive growth and popularity of the medium. It’s people like Sandy who open up their lives, no matter how unconventional, to give others a look at something they might not otherwise experience. Vlogging let’s us see into another person’s world whether they’re an aspiring actor, a suburban teenager, or a homeless man trying to get by.
Viewer response to Sandy has been so strong that Costello has set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for him. The donated funds would be used to reconnected Sandy with family in his native Michigan and get him into permanent housing, making it easier for him to find work.