What's a "real job," anyway?
You know that statistic saying that the average American watches 83 hours of TV a day?
Well, that’s me.
Except I do it with YouTube.
Because YouTube is THE BEST.
For (almost) anything you want to learn, listen to, or enjoy, you can access that on YouTube. For well over a decade, I’ve logged onto the platform every day to get screenplay ideas, practice my vegan butternut squash recipe, learn how to sell over $30K worth of goods online, become a better dater, discover life coaching, and get on-demand laughs whenever I’m feeling down.
Which brings me to Jaime French.
I don’t know how the algorithm brought us together, but I’m so glad it did.
This 30-something Jehovah’s Witness make-up artist who lives in Missouri is a riot. On her channel, which features the taglines of “Let the Okay Times Roll" and "Okay Videos Every Week," she reviews celebrity-driven flops (e.g., “Glitter,” “Crossroads,” “Spiceworld") while sometimes doing her make-up. She does a mean deadpan and an even meaner Jennifer Coolidge impression.
She also has 496,000 subscribers. (For those who are unaware, you can start receiving money from YouTube after the 1,000 subscribers mark. I have a feeling my girl’s making bank). She also has sponsorships with Hello Fresh, Audible, and (most likely) other companies.
I’m pretty sure she and her husband Nick don’t have to work day jobs anymore. I’m also pretty sure she and her husband’s primary source of income is her making 30-minute video essays deconstructing Vanilla Ice’s “Cool as Ice.”
Yup, this is her real job.
Which brings me to the title of this essay.
Back in 2018, I fell down a rabbit hole listening to internet wunderkind Gary Vaynerchuk/Gary Vee. This foul-mouthed Horatio Alger from New Jersey pontificated on gratitude, hustle and grind, and other topics germaine to those establishing a business online (or, as I like to call it, “internetting”).
I remember him speaking at length about the importance of “adding value” to people’s lives.
Adding value…adding value…I cogitated for awhile. It sounded like such a dry term from Econ 101 (which I only spent one day in). What on Earth did that mean? And then it hit me.
Adding value just means you’re solving other people’s problems.
You’re taking the gifts you’ve been given and you're using them to alleviate someone else’s pain, problem, or issue for money (or, hopefully, soon for money). Adding value comes in many forms; it could be a traditional job, or it could be a part-time, gig work, or self-employment. I thought some more on this.
What if there are no “real jobs," anyway?
We tend to venerate doctors, lawyers, CEOs, and the like because we think the work they do is hard, vital, and prestigious.
But aren’t “hard," "vital," and "prestigious" subjective?
I mean, sure, I’d love a well-trained doctor to examine me the next time I’m in the E.R., but I don’t see Jaime’s contributions as any less valuable. Her work does strike me as hard (it can't be easy to painstakingly edit all of those videos); they also strike me as vital (I can't tell you how many times I've flipped her on just to Fill the Void of having something on in the background); finally, if you look at the French root of "prestige," it actually means "delusion."
Compared to the doctor example, I assume that she doesn't have medical skills (though I think she'd be really funny in an O.R.); she's nevertheless using her talents to relieve her followers of their modern ennui.
I’m so grateful she can make me laugh or give me food for thought on days when I really need it. She may not be saving lives per se, but she’s adding more value by adding more laughter and to that, I say (and I quote Rob Van Winkle/Vanilla Ice here), "Go Ninja! Go Ninja! Go!"