It’s 10 a.m as a young woman stands in her dorm room, carefully garnishing a bowl of steel-cut oats with apples, bananas and a spoonful of yoghurt. “I finally graduated college,” the closed captions read, in both English and Korean. Successfully closing a chapter of her life, the vlogger shares her views on the importance of living in the moment while dipping a sliced apple in yoghurt. “I’m learning that things always work out in their own time,” she continues—engaging in a visual monologue with her audience but having a bigger impact than an auditory one. Welcome to the deeply meditative world of silent vlogs, a content subgenre you stumble across on YouTube for the aesthetics but stay for the life lessons.
Part of a broader movement towards ‘slow living’, silent vlogs are characterised by the absence of both auditory monologues and dialogues. In essence, you would be greeted with the sounds of life—drawing of curtains, boiling of water, sizzling of a pan—in stark contrast to the overused “Hey guys.” The nature of the content is predominantly domestic. The vloggers here are mostly anonymous. Think minimalism and mindfulness, effortlessly weaved into a soothing narrative to embrace viewers with the euphoria of less.
Featuring vloggers carrying out their daily chores, from making their beds in the morning to wiping down the kitchen counters at night, silent vlogs essentially reframe mundane activities into tiny, hypnotic celebrations of their own.
“I started vlogging purely for myself and as a side hobby,” said Soo Hyun, a silent vlogger well known for her ‘College student in Korea’ vlogs on YouTube. “I started during my senior year of university when most of my friends were either taking a semester off or taking online classes from home due to COVID-19—so I had a lot of free time on my hands.” Publishing her first silent vlog back in February 2020, Soo Hyun admitted to starting her YouTube channel with the aim of leaving behind a virtual record of her university days. “I wanted to reflect on myself and the kind of person I was, along with my hobbies and interests at the time.” Curating silent vlogs for herself to look back at, Soo Hyun never expected people to be actually interested in them.
With more than 144,000 views on her vlogs, the silent vlogger is currently on an influential path down silent YouTube. Amid cooking, cleaning her dorm room, attending online classes and getting a haircut, the silent vlogger channels mindfulness into her content. When asked if she practices what she preaches, Soo Hyun said, “Funnily enough, I often hear the words ‘meditative’ or ‘slow living’ used to describe my videos. It’s definitely not something I would have caught myself, so it’s interesting to hear my everyday life described that way.”
According to the vlogger, the ‘slow’ lifestyle choice is often looped into her videos because she does—or rather tries her best to—practice mindfulness, prioritise productivity, and do at least one thing she enjoys every day.
Silent vlogs have been gracing YouTube for more than five years, but it wasn’t until COVID-19 drove people to the confines of their own homes that the subgenre truly gained traction. With an increased time spent indoors came an increased motivation to elevate the space the time was spent at. The art of slow living and home maintenance boomed as viewers turned to silent vlogs to redefine the label ‘confines of their home’ to ‘comforts of their home’.
“I can’t speak for everyone, but COVID-19 was a part of the reason I started vlogging,” Soo Hyun explained when asked about her take on the pandemic-propelled boom of silent vlogging. “I think not being able to go out or see your friends often definitely makes you creative about the things you do indoors!”
Apart from reframing pandemic fatigue, however, silent vloggers are also credited with combating a concerning phenomenon: the mainstream influencer culture. In stark contrast to that vlogger channeling her inner ‘coconut girl’ in Bali and making boomerangs on a cruise ship, silent vloggers celebrate the little achievements we make every day in our lives. Their content alleviates stress instead of evoking envy to prime us for the advertisements that follow. You may have cooped up in a corner of your room watching anime all day and making dinner for yourself. But what a relief it is to watch someone else do it and assure you that it is okay to do nothing sometimes. Take a day off, celebrate the mundaneness and prepare yourself for the wave of productivity that follows.
When asked about the general responses Soo Hyun gets for her content, the silent vlogger explained how she often finds comments like “This helped me feel calm!” and “This inspired me to be productive!” in the comments section. “To even imagine that I may have that kind of impact on anyone—just through showing my daily life—is really amazing.” The vlogger also mentioned how she gets messages from young viewers asking for her advice on studying, mental health and productivity. “I’m no expert, but I try my best to be helpful,” Soo Hyun added. “It’s an honour that people even consider asking me.”
Although Soo Hyun thinks she has a lesser volume of subscribers when compared to other silent vloggers, she admitted to loving and appreciating the community and support that she continually receives from her audience on the platform.
Once you watch a silent vlog, you would be hit with a wave of curiosity before tumbling down a rabbit hole with no emergency exits. How do they channel such bliss in their videos? How do they film the same scene from different angles all by themselves? How long does that take them? And why can I hear this vlogger peel tangerines as clear as day? In a bid to quench your thirst for insights, we asked Soo Hyun herself to explain.
“It really depends on the vlog,” the silent vlogger said, when asked if her content requires pre-planning. “For example, my ‘Slow Seoul’ vlog, and my very last vlog as a college student were based on certain themes, so they took a bit more planning than usual.” But majorly, Soo Hyun admitted to filming random parts of her everyday life and stitching them together in a cohesive narrative later as they deem fit.
In terms of the Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response or ASMR (a fancy term for that tingly feeling that runs down to the base of your spine during auditory stimulation), silent vloggers are speculated to enhance the ‘sounds of life’ in order to curate ASMR for the soul. When asked about her views on the allegations and if she uses any special equipment to capture them, Soo Hyun mentioned how she has seen a lot of vloggers utilise ASMR in their silent vlogs, especially when cooking or eating. “I personally don’t have any special sound equipment, mostly because I’m often filming on-the-go, but I also really just like to retain the natural sounds and ambient noises of that moment,” she added.
Another aspect viewers out there are itching to ask a silent vlogger includes the prep and self-care practices that go behind the scenes. Since silent vloggers are anonymous—in the sense they don’t essentially show their faces on camera—do they have any particular self-care practices for their hands and torso which are common features of such vlogs? Soo Hyun disagrees, adding how her videos are pretty raw and unpolished for the viewers to witness. “As I mentioned earlier, I started this as a hobby and as a way to just record my day-to-day life. I just take out my camera or phone and start filming whenever I want to share a part of my day.”
Silent vlogs are undoubtedly redefining content creation in a pandemic-struck era. But while silent vloggers continue to make a tremendous impact on the lives of their viewers, it is also essential to keep track of how the content helps themselves as individuals. For Soo Hyun, currently a film and media arts graduate, silent vlogs have proven to be a good way for her to connect and review what she has learned. Filming, editing and posting her vlogs have also helped her keep in touch with one of her favorite hobbies.
In the next five years, Soo Hyun still hopes to continue vlogging. “I’m definitely getting busier now that I’ve started at a full-time job,” she said. “But I’d still like to continue using my channel as a way of keeping track of my life and being able to create videos as a hobby.”
And if you are looking to dip your toes into the calm seas of silent vlogging yourself, here’s what Soo Hyun advises: “It’s best to just be natural! I personally found my content to be at its best when I’m not really thinking about the camera or trying too hard to plan something out.” According to the vlogger, it is also important to retain your own aesthetic instead of copying others or going by a certain rule. “That’s what makes you and your content unique!”
Despite the auditory absence of a language, silent vlogs speak volumes and initiate a much-needed change of scenery within the four horizons we currently call walls. They remind you to stop and smell the roses in your three-ply masks. And for some, there is just no going back to vlogs that literally speak volumes.
Remember the “Choke me like you hate me, but you love me” audio which went viral on TikTok with over 300 thousand videos to its credit? The emo rap—guaranteed to leave you either scared or turned on—features a reclusive creator on the rise with an entire ‘simp army’ on his trail.
Introducing Corpse Husband, a ‘faceless’ influencer recognised by his deep, aching voice and veiny, metal-ring-adorned hands. Kicking off his YouTube career 5 years ago, the creator initially lent his voice to horror-story narrations of true crimes dedicated to a niche set of audience. Corpse Husband later branched out into music with his debut single ‘Miss You!’ followed up with ‘White Tee’ and ‘E-Girls Are Ruining My Life!’—which has amassed a whopping 100 million streams on Spotify, ranking second on the platform’s ‘Viral 50 songs’ chart. His career later skyrocketed, thanks to the game Among Us, TikTok and his cult-like following.
Over the pandemic, Corpse Husband started streaming popular video games including Among Us with other internet personalities like PewDiePie, Sykkuno and…AOC! “I can’t get over this dude’s voice. It’s so deep,” AOC gasped on a Twitch livestream hosted alongside high-profile streamers like Pokimane and Corpse Husband to encourage viewers to vote. The congresswoman admitted to being distracted by the creator’s voice, giving enough and more content for fans to create viral compilations of their interactions on YouTube.
Corpse Husband is huge on TikTok. And by huge, I mean 1.4 billion views on #corpse dedicated to musings about the anonymous influencer. His impact on the platform can be further traced with a total of 4.4 million followers with just three videos on his page. Did I mention that these videos only feature his hands? Black and white filtered, Corpse is simped for photos and videos highlighting the back of his veiny hands. Adorned with chunky metal rings, chipped nail polish and heart-beaded bracelets, Corpse’s #onlyhands have broken various platforms they have been posted to.
On top of his online famous status, the creator also launched his own line of merchandise which includes exclusive posters, beanies, hoodies, face masks and more. The online store, which went live as a Christmas gift to Corpse’s fans, reportedly crashed for many as the website received tremendous traffic across the globe. Most of the merchandise sold out like hotcakes in under 5 minutes.
In other news, his cult-like fan following have rented and flown a plane over his favourite restaurant, Sizzler’s Steakhouse, to promote his latest single ‘Agoraphobic’ on Spotify. The fandom has additionally helped secure a coveted billboard for the creator at New York Times Square, trending both #corpseinthesky and #corpsebillboard on Twitter.
You may go like “Oh, this is nothing new in influencer culture though.” Just in case you missed out, let me remind you of the fact that Corpse Husband is an anonymous, ‘faceless’ influencer. Nobody knows his real name, in fact in a recent and only interview Corpse Husband has done, he admitted that those around him in real life have no clue of his online fame. “I come across as sketchy to everybody,” the creator said, confessing to the fact that he can’t answer simple questions like “What do you do for a living?” and “How do you make all this money?”.
While some details like his age and country of residence are available to the public, the creator brushes aside all hopes of a face reveal coming from him. “With how the internet is, it’ll probably inevitably happen against my will,” he admitted in a recent Minecraft livestream. The creator further confessed the fact that people’s expectations of his appearance have peaked to unachievable standards at the moment. “When you have millions of people going like ‘I think he looks like this’ and you look dramatically different from all of them, it’s like you’re going to let down a lot of people at once and I’d rather not do that,” he added.
Another reason for Corpse masking his identity is his struggle with severe anxiety, presently heightened due to his fame. Although a small portion of the internet constantly tries to coax him into a face reveal, majority of his fans have arisen in support of the creator’s personal decision by respecting his privacy. The creator has also been open about his chronic illness and conditions like fibromyalgia, thoracic outlet syndrome and GERD, the latter of which is partially responsible for his super-deep voice.
The rise of Corpse Husband as a global phenomenon signals an overarching trend of anonymous influencers—constantly rewriting norms for content creation in a digital age. Bygone is the era of a public figure’s influence centred around their physical existence. It’s time to embrace reclusive creators—basing their success entirely around their wholesome content and personality. Thereby engaging a loyal fanbase willingly tattooing their icon’s hair strands and selling out their favourite perfumes in less than a few hours.