Felix “Pewdiepie” Kjellberg, who you might know for holding the title of “most subscribers haver” on the video hosting platform YouTube from 2013 to 2019, has announced plans to take a break from working on his channel because he is suffering from burnout.
“I’m tired,” he said in a Pew News video. “I’m feeling very tired. I don’t know if you can tell. Just so you know, early next year I’ll be away for a little while. I’ll explain that later but I wanted to give a heads up.”
Which is totally fair. Kjellberg has been on YouTube since 2006, and gained widespread popularity for his Let’s Plays and gameplay videos, ultimately cultivating an audience of over 100 million subscribers, the most for any solo creator on the platform. In all that time he’s uploaded over 4000 videos on his channel alone. Other things Pewdiepie has become known for beyond his YouTube popularity includes using anti-Semitic imagery in his videos, racial slurs, sexist jokes, and making fun of addiction all under the watchful eyes of his audience of primarily young kids.
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Pewdiepie’s controversies aside, his hiatus, which he says will begin in 2020, does point to a problem that is plaguing content creators on platforms like YouTube, which is that burnout remains an unaddressed issue in the industry. The job of creating content at a rapid rate on places like YouTube, and that earnings and cash flow from those videos basically requires everything you post to be a major hit, means that people who rely on that kind of work to make money are finding the entire thing exhausting and demoralizing, and the way YouTube in particular operates is damaging people’s livelihood in the process.
Despite that, Pewdiepie differs from a lot of creators on YouTube because he is richer than God. Through his channel and various other partnerships, Kjellberg has a net worth of over $30 million. It’s a level of privilege not afforded to other, smaller creators who can’t afford to take a hiatus from making videos on a regular basis. So while his hiatus is an example of how unsustainable the YouTube format is for a creator’s mental health, his popularity means he can comfortably take a break, unlike thousands of channels that rank lower on the subscriber charts.
If you’re interested in reading more on that, I recommend some of the great reporting that’s been coming from that space, especially as the burnout epidemic is growing with each passing year.