YouTube thinks I’m a stoic…am I?

(listen to this post)

This might surprise you, but YouTube is one of my favorite media experiences. I probably watch or listen to more YouTube content than any other platform. In fact, I pay for YouTube Premium ($12/month) in order to a) not waste time with ads, but mostly because b) I can listen to it without having to see the screen. This means I can drive my car and listen to YouTube content, which I do. A lot.

You’re probably ready for me to get on with the rest of this post, but I feel like I need to explain this YouTube obsession a bit more. YouTube has SO much great content. Ted Talks, sports highlights, news clips, podcast clips, movie clips, Seinfeld clips – they’ve got all the clips. And honestly, the older I get the more I appreciate a good clip. Show me that scene where Kramer creates his own talk show and I’m in. I don’t need to see the entire episode to be laughing my face off.

I’ll add videos to my Watch Later list, and when I’m doing dishes or other chores, driving to pick up a kid, or anything where my brain has a few minutes of downtime (God forbid I don’t have something keeping my mind busy at all times!), I’m YouTubing.

Here’s a great example of a clip from an interview with Jon Stewart and Bryan Stevenson, and it’s INCREDIBLE. Please watch it:

Note: Yes, I do listen to Audiobooks, but only when I’m running outside or on a long drive. Or when one like Will or The Master Plan completely grab hold of me and I can’t stop listening, in which case my YouTubing time goes dramatically down.

So, am I a stoic?! YouTube seems to think so.

Admittedly, I watched a few of Ryan Holiday’s ‘Daily Stoic’ videos. So I can’t completely blame YouTube for this.

With titles like, ‘8 Stoic Don’ts For a Better Life’ and ‘The Stoic’s Guide to Better Parenting’, how do I not click on them? The guy makes solid content.

After watching a few of his videos, I started getting bombarded with stoic content because Google’s algorithm ain’t no dummy.

So, it begs the question: am I a stoic?

Which begs another question: what is a stoic?

Let’s dive in.

The general principles of stoicism are that one should live in harmony with nature, accept what one can and cannot change, and be tolerant of the events that occur in life.

Ok, I can get on board with that. I generally accept what I cannot change, believing that what the world throws at me is how it is. I don’t spend time lamenting bad news but instead, look for a path forward based on my new reality.

Stoicism teaches that one should be indifferent to pleasure and pain and have a sense of detachment from the material world.

Huh. This one’s a bit odd sounding. Seems more like what a robot would say about ‘feelings’.

Wisdom is the root virtue. From it springs the cardinal virtues: insight, bravery, self-control, and justice.

This definitely resonates with me. Gaining wisdom is why I read so many books and have guests like Terence Lester on my podcast. This allows me to build empathy within myself, which hopefully leads me to fight for justice. In fact, it’s how I came up with the idea for The A Pledge.

Apathea: Since passion is irrational, life should be waged as a battle against it. Intense feeling should be avoided.

Uhhhh, not so much this one. Sure, I think that too much passion or emotions can impact your ability to react rationally to something and make solid decisions, but who want’s to go through life trying to stifle their passion? Not me.

The Stoics believed that the best way to deal with difficult situations was to remain calm and rational.

Yes, I can be calm in the face of difficulty and I do try to think things through rationally before taking any action. This feels like me for sure.

Verdict: I’m maybe kinda sorta a stoic…sometimes?

The point

I like to think of myself as being on a constant path to self-improvement. I try hard to look at other cultures and viewpoints to see how I can better myself, and yes, sometimes those new ideas come from Google’s creepy-yet-effective algorithm.

The general principles of stoicism do seem like they would help a great many people navigate their way through life. I find that people who have a hard time absorbing life’s changes are often the ones that struggle the most with anxiety and depression. And I get it, life can be hard, and watching a video about stoicism isn’t necessarily going to help.

But you’ve got to start somewhere, and maybe an entertaining YouTube video is just what the doctor ordered.

I hope you’re happy,

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