- Gongbang is a type of YouTube video in which people film themselves studying.
- These videos have become really popular, with some getting millions of views over time.
- People who create and watch these study videos say they do it to help them focus and ultimately pass their exams.
Following is a transcript of the video.
Narrator: Why study alone, when you can study with a bunch of strangers from all over the world?
This is gongbang, which translates to “study broadcast” in Korean. In Japan, it’s known as benkyou douga, and in the US and other parts of the world, it’s simply called “study with me.” It’s a type of video in which people prepare for an exam on camera, while other people watch and study as well.
This might not sound like riveting entertainment, but these videos are racking up millions of views on YouTube. So why are they so popular? And is this just the latest example of lazy content creation, or is there something more going on here?
The Man Sitting Next to Me: When you’re studying by yourself, you can feel alone. But they can reduce their loneliness by getting the sensation of studying with other people.
Narrator: This YouTuber goes by the name “The Man Sitting Next to Me.” He prefers to remain anonymous. He lives in Korea and is studying to be a tax accountant. He livestreams himself studying for hours at a time and has over 20 thousand subscribers on his channel.
The Man Sitting Next to Me: It depends on my exam schedule, but, in general, I broadcast from 9 a.m to 12 a.m.
Narrator: His videos show him simply sitting at a desk taking notes or looking at a book.
Jamie Lee: You’re studying for a long time whether it’s for high school, college, or a professional degree. It can be really lonely, and it’s always helpful to have sort of a study buddy.
Narrator: This is Jamie. She lives in New York and runs a YouTube channel called “The Strive to Fit.” She started her channel when she was in medical school and continues to film herself studying while in residency. Unlike The Man Sitting Next to Me, Jamie’s “study with me” videos are prerecorded. Her videos range from around 20 minutes to two-and-a-half hours in length, and some have over two million views.
She offers videos with music and some with the natural sounds of the pencil on paper as a sort of ASMR.
Jamie: I try to cater to different types of audiences. It will just be kind of the natural sound of like, pen and paper or book sounds and things like that.
Narrator: With a quick YouTube search, you can find all sorts of different people and types of study videos to choose from. This study video trend is a lot like mukbang, which has become more popular in recent years. It involves people eating food, often a whole lot of it, on camera.
Looking at what’s on YouTube these days, like ASMR, mukbang, and reaction videos, it would seem like you don’t need a whole lot of special skills to be a success. But gongbang serves a real purpose, helping people focus. Or at least that’s what the content creator and the fans are saying.
While it may seem distracting to watch YouTube while doing your work, they say it actually is a helpful way to avoid distractions.
The Man Sitting Next to Me: The first benefit my viewers can get is motivation. By watching other people studying, they can also get motivated to study hard. And for myself, by studying with all of you, I can prevent myself from getting lazy and continue to focus with my study.
Narrator: And based on some of the comments, this method seems to be working.
“I’m an engineering student, a week ago I wasn’t motivated at all, then I found your channel. Thank you for saving me.”
“I feel more concentrated on my exam preparation. Thank you Jamie for your video. It’s actually very nice and helpful.”
Jamie: It really helps them focus, because every time they’re tempted to do something on their phone or go somewhere on their website, they kinda look up and see that I’m still studying on the screen, so it kind of motivates them to keep studying and stay focused on what they’re supposed to be doing.
Narrator: And while they do make money off the videos with YouTube ads, they say viral fame and fortune isn’t why they’re doing it. Keep in mind, these YouTubers are studying for careers outside of YouTube, like tax accountants and doctors. They say they’re only using YouTube as a means to an end, that isn’t becoming the next Logan Paul or Jenna Marbles.
The Man Sitting Next to Me says he even uses the money that he earns to give back to his community, charities, and nursing homes. You can find him on his channel interacting with his viewers, giving out gift cards for things like coffee and books to help study.
The Man Sitting Next to Me: There’s a system in my channel where you can mark your attendance. Among those people, I randomly choose around 20 people a month, and I also host public events to give out gifts to people who study.
Narrator: His followers will often stick with him until they complete their exam and share his channel with friends.
The Man Sitting Next to Me: People revisit as long as they’re studying for their exam. And once they pass, they let other people know, so they can also get motivated.
Narrator: But what happens when the tests are over for these YouTubers? What can their followers expect? Both Jamie and The Man Sitting Next to Me say they plan to keep filming themselves but perhaps with different content related to their careers.
The Man Sitting Next to Me: I promised the people in my community to continue gongbang for the rest of my life. So I’m gonna continue. But I will add more content like tax advice.
Narrator: No matter why you watch or when you watch, it all comes down to one thing: making sure you do the work and pass that test.
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