Silent vlogging first originated in South Korea around three years ago as an embrace of normalcy and slow living. Since then, it has traveled overseas and become a common format in America. The vlogs are between 10 to 30 minutes long, and they consist of creators moving through their everyday lives while doing mundane things such as running errands, studying and working. The vloggers tend to remain faceless in their videos, which often include no talking. Rather, the vlogs are paired with either calm music or no music at all, and the only sounds are the vloggers’ surroundings, with subtitles as their main form of communication. Despite the unconventional format, channels that use it receive mountains of praise from viewers for their simplified lifestyle.
What is Silent Vlogging?
Two of the most prolific silent vloggers on YouTube are 슛뚜sueddu, with 873,000 subscribers, and 냥숲nyangsoop, with 679,000 subscribers. Both vloggers are from South Korea, but they each have very distinct aesthetics and content despite conforming to the silent vlogging format.
슛뚜sueddu lives in Seoul and her videos have a much more industrial aesthetic with cooler tones. She focuses her content on city life, her freelancing work as a photographer, writer, videographer and video editor, and her dog, Bebe. 냥숲nyangsoop has a different aesthetic: She lives in the countryside and is influenced much more by the environment. Her videos feature warmer tones, and she focuses her content on nature, her family’s cottage and garden, cooking, and her cat, Taco. (The coziness of their videos is certainly increased by their adorable pets, by the way.)
At first glance, the vloggers’ content appears exceedingly normal and maybe even boring. Even the most popular videos on each of their channels are nothing out of the ordinary: 슛뚜sueddu’s summer night routine video has 2.3 million views, while 냥숲nyangsoop’s hour-long collection of footage of the food she made last spring has garnered over 3.3 million views. In addition to the slow pace and lack of music, the vlogs also use subtitles, long takes in between cuts, neat color palettes and faceless vloggers. Silent vlogs aren’t exciting, but they’re not supposed to be.
If anything, silent vlogging advocates for slow living. The slow living movement emphasizes the importance of moving through life with utmost awareness and taking the time to be fully aware of one’s experiences and surroundings. Even the daily ritual of making a cup of coffee in the morning is appreciated within the slow living movement. With more awareness of one’s actions and less worry about the future, one begins to live more in the present.
In an interview with i-D, 냥숲nyangsoop elaborated on the meaning of slow living by explaining, “I want to tell my viewers that it’s okay to take life slowly and do the things you enjoy. These are also messages that I would like to say to my past self. I used to be filled with anxieties about the future. Now I believe in the importance of having time for yourself.”
냥숲nyangsoop’s sentiment is evident in the way she titles and films her videos. The titles of 냥숲nyangsoop’s and 슛뚜sueddu’s vlogs express the joy and simplicity their channels are pushing. 냥숲nyangsoop’s vlogs feature titles such as “Spending the weekend at home,” whereas 슛뚜sueddu titles her vlogs “Spring cleaning and homemade strawberry milk” and “The things I’ve loved today.” The titles are straightforward and let the viewer know exactly what they’re in for when clicking on the videos. There are no surprises, but that may be just what people need.
The slowness is also present in the way the silent vlogs are filmed. The shots linger, and there are rarely any abrupt jump cuts. The camera is always placed on a stable surface so the camera itself is never moving. Instead, the viewer is met with one shot of a setting, and the subject — the vlogger — is the only thing moving within the setting. The filming technique can feel tedious at times, but it forces the viewer to slow their racing mind and focus on the content they’re consuming. Paying full attention to silent vlogs is an act of slow living in itself.
The Audience’s Perspective
Audiences are driven to the silent vlogs of YouTube because they’re a form of guiltless escapism. In an article in Medium magazine, Polina Osipchuk points out that influencers often show only the brightest moments of their lives. Only the most exciting moments are posted to social media, but in reality, most of their experiences are as dreadfully normal as our own. Osipchuk writes that she enjoys silent vlogs because it was “a relief […] to see someone on YouTube doing the exact same [as me], and making it look beautiful and inspiring.” Silent vlogging contrasts with energetic YouTube videos in a refreshing manner.
An article from Elle discusses the importance of recognizing the merit in “silence and simplicity,” especially when living through a pandemic in which everyone is stuck at home with excitement and motivation at an all-time low. Silent vlogging encourages its viewers to pay attention to the small things that make up daily life, since that’s all that everyone feels they can do in the current situation. Making a bed, feeding a pet, brushing one’s teeth and reading before work are just a few of the practices romanticized within silent vlogs. Appreciating the comfort of these small and ordinary acts makes life seem less desolate and more hopeful.
Influencing the World
The silent vlogging trend in South Korea has amassed millions of fans to the point that the phenomenon has begun to spread all over the world. There are now various silent vlogging channels in a multitude of countries. There’s milkcloud from Germany, mia ong from Malaysia, elly belly from the Philippines, cafe.studyy and annika’s leaf, both from America, to name a few.
Despite following the same format as the Korean vloggers, foreign vloggers do change a few things. Their vlogs still focus on the ordinary parts of life and incorporate slow camerawork and consistent aesthetics, but some of their videos include talking or calm, cute music. Although the production of some silent vlogs differ in technique, they still fit into the silent vlogging category because of the consistent themes of comfort and appreciation.
Some people may never fully understand the silent vlogging phenomenon due to its quotidian subject matter and simple technique, but millions of individuals resonate with the videos because of the emphasis on normalcy. Silent vlogs aren’t the epitome of fun or excitement; they’re meant to be soothing and tranquil. They’re supposed to encourage deep thoughts and even deeper breaths to decrease the fast pace at which everybody seems to move. They ultimately act as a reminder to take notice of the good things in the ordinary and to take life a little more slowly.