This man livestreamed his entire life, even bathroom breaks, for a year
- Michael Gerry says he is the first person in history to livestream his entire life without breaks for an entire year in high resolution.
- His project was inspired by BuzzFeed producer Aria Inthavong's "How Streaming My Life For A Week Destroyed Me"
- Gerry says he was in a dark place when he started livestreaming, but that it helped him in unexpected ways.
- He is currently writing a how-to book on streaming for people who want to attempt something similar.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
It's January 2019 and 22-year-old Michael Gerry has begun his attempt to take streaming to a whole new level — in the most extended and exhaustive way he possibly could. He would livestream every second of his life without breaks for the rest of the year.
"I'm still trying to figure out what it all means, and what the point of it is," said Gerry in an announcement on his Youtube channel.
Searching for meaning, impact, and maybe just something to do, Gerry decided to start livestreaming his life for the entirety of 2019.
Gerry had recently dropped out of university and streaming was all that was keeping him going.
Gerry said his streaming project was all that was keeping him going in a time of aimlessness.
After dropping out of college, he spent a year doing freelance video and editing work in Los Angeles, lived in Amsterdam for a few months, then found his way to College Station, Texas. He was living off the money he won from competing on Fear Factor (Season 2, Episode 9) with his brother in 2018.
Having no solid job, and haunted by the idea of living a purposeless life, he says he was at a low point and considered suicide.
"I had a pretty ironclad plan for what was going to happen, I was going to goof around, and then I was going to die," said Gerry. "The project was the only thing that was interesting or exciting enough for it to be an alternative to death," said Gerry.
For every second of one whole year, the stream would be his first priority. It was everything to him. Whatever happened, no matter what, the stream would take precedent.
And so he went everywhere with a camera mounted on his shoulder and set up cameras in his bedroom and on his computer. He streamed on YouTube, DLive, and Twitch and had a Patreon and Discord set up for fans. The streams would be constantly running, and he would switch between them depending on what activity he was doing and where his location was. That way, he would ensure that even if one of them ended for some reason, there would at all times be some sort of stream running.
His content included everything from the exciting to the mundane — sleeping, driving, hanging out with friends, eating, and dating.
In the beginning, the only parts that were off-limits were sex and using the restroom. However, during the last quarter of the project, he decided to make those parts available to watch, which gained him thousands of subscribers.
He originally showed everything he was allowed to within Twitch and YouTube's Terms of Service but didn't know that there was another site where he was allowed to stream NSFW content.
After discovering the website Robot Streamer, he used a separate camera that would only be turned on for situations that he wouldn't be able to show on his other safe-for-work streams. Gerry did stream one romantic encounter and says the person filmed gave their consent to appear on camera.
Gerry was inspired by Aria Inthavong from Buzzfeed, who attempted a similar project that only lasted for one week. While other "lifecasters," such as Jennicam and founder of Twitch Justin.tv, did similar projects in the early 2000s, Gerry says he is the only one to do it continuously for a year in high resolution. His motivation was to set out to do streaming in a specific way that no one had done before previously. He defines continuous as "covering all aspects of one's life with no breaks or stops."
Since Jennicam's project took place when the internet was still fairly young, her livestreams transmitted static images every three minutes and was not a continuous stream. Justin.tv's stream, which is known to have popularized the concept of "lifecasting," was not in high resolution and was not continuous for an entire year.
—Aria Inthavong (@ariainthavong) October 4, 2018
Despite appearing to be the first person to do a project of this magnitude, something you'd expect to go viral, he has gotten little to no media coverage from news and other online outlets.
"I'm not doing this for money. I'm not doing this for fame," said Gerry. "I'm doing this because I think it's interesting, and I think the world deserves to see it."
The main goal of the "lifestream," as he called it, was to not be performative. In the age of instant gratification, where the Instagram Influencers, and now TikTok creators, of the digital world create content that is expected to be fully engaging every second — Gerry considered his streaming a rebellious act.
Counter to the now-mainstream understanding of what's "engaging" content, Gerry found an audience.
Viewers tuned in and many were fascinated. Though the streams didn't go viral, there was a committed community (6.6k subscribers on Youtube and 39 monthly donors on Patreon) of fans dedicated to analyzing the idiosyncrasies of the stream as well as rooting for his self-development.
Gerry says streaming and the community he created had a surprising effect on his outlook
Those who tuned-in for controversy and drama were satiated for the first few months. Some of the lowlights included near-daily belligerent drunkenness, arguments with friends, and yelling at strangers.
However, Gerry says that after he rewatched his behaviour on the stream, he decided to make some life changes.
"It was probably sometime around the fourth or fifth month, I stopped drinking caffeine and alcohol and using mind altering substances," said Gerry. "I started eating healthier, I started exercising regularly and I was like, 'wow I actually don't mind participating in [life] at the moment.'"
Gerry says that being able to see this record heightened his self-awareness and inspired a full transformation.
"I watched it back and thought 'this is really atrocious, I don't like this at all," said Gerry. "And I made changes based on that and those changes just so happened to make me get to a point where I thought [life] was more enjoyable."
As he continued streaming and making life changes, Gerry said his mental state changed. He says he no longer actively considers suicide.
According to Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Jeanie Y. Chang, who is also a national mental health and wellness speaker, activities that make people feel engaged and less alone can have profound effects on one's mental health.
"It's hard to give one answer for everyone because everyone is on their own journey," said Chang. "But perhaps in his case, livestreaming and constant interaction with people helped him feel less isolated."
Chang said it's difficult to pinpoint how much of his growth should be credited to the act of livestreaming itself, but explained how it might have been a catalyst for it.
"I think it's good self-reflection," said Chang. "But, if they are the type of person who is motivated to change their life, it could have happened either way with or without this project." Gerry is convinced that the project at least affected the magnitude of his life change.
Gerry said there was no single turning point in his story, he simply and gradually grew into a new version of himself, one that he could be more proud of.
"It wasn't like I did all that change in one day and everything immediately flipped," said Gerry. "It was over a period of time I just sort of stumbled upon it, life just got easier on accident."
Now after successfully completing his 365 day project, he's writing a how-to book on how people can livestream their own life continuously. Other than that, he's resuming his nomadic lifestyle by living in his Prius and searching for the next adventure.
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