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  • Writer's pictureThe Gimp

Reaction Videos: I Guess I Was Ahead Of My Time

Before I launch into this, I have to give a shout on to the best reactor on the planet and the man who turned reaction videos into an art form, Leo AKA Mr. Video on YouTube. The guy puts everything into what he does with no inhibitions and just has a good time. I'm sure the cannabis helps.

Growing up, I always felt awkward and found it hard to laugh at things unless I felt I was being given permission. So I was literally a video reactor before that was even a thing. I always cared more about how other people were enjoying a movie or a television program than I was.

Call it Stockholm Syndrome, call it whatever you want. But unless I've had some of my pain medication or a drink, I've found it difficult, especially in the last 20 years, to even show the slightest bit of emotion. I had a teacher who ran into me in the hallway of the school back in Grade 10 who told me that he could never tell if I was happy or sad. I remember going to school every morning starting at 16 after years of horrible homeschooling, perplexed as to how these kids could seem so happy and laugh about things every single day. I could never relate to that.

I was raised with "love/happiness/everything is a choice." It doesn't matter how bad your life is (believe me, dad would make sure of that). "Smile and the world smiles with you. Frown and you frown alone." True, but then everyone's lying to each other and if there's one thing I loathe, it's people who are inauthentic. I can deal with you if you're just a bully and an asshole. I can walk away...slowly - usually with my hand on a wall for balance.

So my natural instinct when watching a movie, even in a movie theatre, is to spend just as much time watching people's reactions as I do watching the actual film.

I haven't always been opinionated. For many years, I just regurgitated whatever paternal bullshit I managed to absorb because I wasn't allowed to have an opinion. Everything had to be parroted back verbatim. My mom got the worst of it, I think. "Repeat after me: I am stupid."

The biggest let down for my dad wasn't crashing and burning and ending up on academic probation in 1st year university and never going back because I was such a mess. It was having a differing opinion. "It makes me sad that you're choosing to be like this and I won't see you in heaven." If he wasn't yelling at me that I was wrong and immoral, it was that kind of guilt trip.

Despite his insistence that I have no social life, whether in high school or in adult life, so that I could study for hours for an exam that wasn't coming for another 2 semesters until I was burnt out, he always told me the only thing he cared about was my "relationship with God." And, naturally, it was up to him to determine the strength of that relationship.

So even to this day, my natural instinct is to pause before reacting at all to something to see how others are reacting first - just in case my reaction is the wrong one and I look like a jackass.

In the 80s and 90s, I didn't need a YouTube reaction video. I was so bored 99% of the time because I wasn't allowed out of the house unsupervised, I would find ways to make other people a reaction video. And at times, I'd act out and misbehave, especially in my teens, socially in order to get some kind of reaction out of people, even if I knew in advance that it would be a negative reaction.

I'd feel horribly guilty about it afterward, especially if it involved embarrassing a female, but it was almost like a release to get some kind, any kind, of reaction out of people. Even if they ended up calling me Mack-Daddy and Horndog as a result. At least they acknowledged my existence - whether they appreciated that existence or not.

Very often it comes down to loving people when they're not physically near me, but when they are, I can get a bit like George Carlin. Socially awkward and just waiting for the first opportunity to get the hell out of there. Sometimes I literally feel like telling people to fuck off so I can start having compassion for them again. Not that I ever want to see harm come to them. I just find human beings difficult to be around at times.

I spent my entire childhood basically sitting at a desk across from my younger sister pretending to "work," while I had a pencil and paper, jotting down ideas for fictional stories. The door was always open in the room and my dad would sit outside like a Creeper in his easy chair, watching TV, and if caught me with a pencil instead of a book in my hands, there would be shit to pay. Not always physical, though. Usually he'd just read whatever I'd written, humiliate me and ask what the hell I was writing about because it didn't make sense to him and therefore it was "weird" or "strange." I'm already a Gimp. I didn't need that shit.

Again, shout out to Mr. Video. He's just what you need when you've had a long day and just want to relax with an edible. I admire people who can just enjoy themselves when they know half the world is watching. It's too bad nobody pays you to watch people react to things.

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