During the earlier months of the Covid-19 pandemic, many people found themselves trapped in their homes with too much time on their hands. Unfortunately, I was no exception. I suddenly felt bored and stuck in my own head, and thanks to my state’s mandated lockdown, I didn’t have any opportunities to change up my daily routine.
However, it was during this time that I stumbled upon a new genre of videos: one that framed “boring” lives like mine into cozy vlogs with minimalist aesthetics. These vloggers (who usually hid their faces) would film themselves cooking dinner, cleaning their room, making their bed, or completing other mundane tasks in a slow and intentional manner. Occasionally, they would also share personal anecdotes or life advice. They would do all this without any talking, relying only on subtitles to narrate their routine and share their thoughts.
After watching a handful of videos like these, I would later learn that they had an official name: silent vlogs. This genre of vlogging originated in East Asia in 2019, primarily in South Korea. Its emergence has been linked to the rise of slow living, which involves improving the quality of your life by slowing down and focusing on things that truly matter to you. The silent vlog genre has also paved the way for new subgenres, such as South Korean cafe vlogs. In recent years, the format of silent vlogs has spread globally and inspired non-asian silent vloggers as well.
The appeal of silent vlogs can be found in their calmer, more relaxed approach to traditional vlogging. Instead of getting up close and personal with the camera, silent vloggers focus more on showcasing the little moments in their daily lives, whether it be studying for online classes or unboxing a package. Although some use calming background music, most silent vloggers leave only the natural ambience from their daily activities, providing viewers with an asmr-like experience that can’t be found in typical vlogs.
And it was these aspects that made silent vlogs so appealing during the pandemic. As many grew tired of their daily routine, silent vlogs allowed them to rediscover the joy in little tasks and romanticize their lives amidst the pandemic chaos.
“My mind felt overstuffed with Zoom meetings, Zoom classes, Zoom hangs,” author Crystal Hana Kim stated in an Elle article about her experience with Korean silent vlogs. “Instead of blitz and spectacle, I craved something calming and easy, preferably in Korean, which is my comfort language.”
Hana Kim’s friend ended up introducing her to silent vlogs, and she claims that the vlogs helped her tremendously.
“[Silent vlogs] helped me when I felt like I was languishing, stuck in the same rut of activities, restless and unsatisfied as so many of us have been the past year” she stated. “...These Korean vloggers may be anonymous, but they are powerful. They remind us to be thankful, to live with intention, to be.”
Silent vlogs can also benefit the vloggers themselves. For Soo Hyun, a Korean silent vlogger with around 10,000 subscribers, silent vlogging has helped her review her film and media arts studies, as well as continue her hobby of filming.
“I’m definitely getting busier now that I’ve started at a full-time job,” Soo Hyun said in an interview with Screenshot Media. “But I’d still like to continue using my channel as a way of keeping track of my life and being able to create videos as a hobby.”
Soo Hyun, like many, had delved into the world of silent vlogs in early 2020. Although she started her channel purely for herself, she was surprised to see her videos inspiring people and helping to calm them down.
“To even imagine that I may have that kind of impact on anyone—just through showing my daily life—is really amazing” she stated.
Even today, two years after the pandemic began, I still find solace in silent vlogs. Not only do they serve as an escape from the stressors of my own life, but they also remind me to find joy in my routine and take care of myself. Although life is slowly returning to “normal,” silent vlogs still save me from burnout, and I hope they can serve the same purpose for others.
Meet the Silent Vloggers of YouTube, Hypnotising Their Audience with Deeply Meditative Content, 15 June 2021, screenshot-media.com/culture/influencers/what-is-silent-vlogging/.
Kim, Crystal Hana. “Slow Living With Korea's Silent Vloggers.” ELLE, ELLE, 29 Nov. 2021, www.elle.com/culture/a36451963/korea-silent-vloggers/.
Lehman, Emily. “Serenity Now: the Immersive World of Silent Vlogs.” Verily, Verily, 27 May 2022, verilymag.com/2022/05/serenity-now-the-immersive-world-of-silent-youtube-video-vlogs-2022.
Maeoka, Makoto. “What's All the Noise about Silent Vlogs?” Blog.youtube, YouTube Official Blog, 26 July 2021, blog.youtube/culture-and-trends/whats-all-the-noise-about-silent-vlogs/.
“What Is Slow Living? Slow Movement History, Tips, Resources.” Slow Living LDN., www.slowlivingldn.com/what-is-slow-living/.
Writer. “Silent Vlogging Inspires Individuals To Embrace Their Daily Lives.” Study Breaks, 21 June 2021, studybreaks.com/tvfilm/silent-vlogging/.
Shreya Senthilkumar (she/her) is currently a high school student living in North Carolina. She is a staff writer for her school’s newspaper and a blog writer for a local music camp. This year, she plans to publish her writing for an international audience. When she is not writing, she can be found wandering around Barnes and Noble or managing her school’s calligraphy club. You can follow her on Twitter @http_shreya.