by Ashley Schlotfeldt
In November 2019, Markiplier and CrankGameplays (Ethan) started a YouTube channel called Unus Annus, which means “one year.” Basically, their concept was that they posted a video daily, with a timer at the end of each video counting down from 365 days. At the end of the 365 days, they would delete the channel. I found a post that someone made right before the deletion of the channel, and they said that the main lesson they learned was, “when one thing ends, something else begins.” Often times, endings bring new beginnings, new opportunities. And the thing that Mark and Ethan mentioned quite frequently throughout the final livestream was, “2020 might not have been the most ideal year for this channel, but it was the year we needed. We made the most of what we were given.”
I remember exactly where I was when I watched the first video. I had just attended one of my classes and was sitting on my bed in the dorm when I saw their video about a new channel. It was basically the introduction and them explaining in a short video what the channel was going to be about. I thought to myself, “A whole year? That’s going to be such a long time, but okay.” The videos were silly and fun, some of which consisting of Mark and Ethan using strange objects as cooking utensils, learning how to be a mime, practicing different dances, creating their own “bungee jump” in the back yard, and creating a dog sled for their dogs (giving them adorable pep talks before their attempts to pull the sled.) This content was completely different from the gaming videos they would normally post on their own individual channels, yet it was unique and fun. Seeing these two friends joke around every day made each day new and exciting. For a moment, I wondered, “how is this going to impact people? I mean, they’re just uploading these fun videos, they don’t really have much depth, so what are people really going to miss about them?” But I realized, in my own personal experience, after watching those videos over that whole year, I wasn’t necessarily solely attached to the videos themselves, but the memories of what I experienced when I was watching them. Plus, if the videos hadn’t been lighthearted, if they had been dark and dismal, purely focusing on the ending of the channel, then it wouldn’t have made such an impact. They made the content enjoyable and didn’t remind people of the end until 2 weeks before the channel was about to be deleted. That would have gone completely against the message they were wanting to convey. The message is to focus on the journey of life and make the most of the time we’re given, not focus solely on the end.
Some other year might have been more ideal from a creative standpoint, where they would be able to fulfill a lot more of the ideas that they came up with, but due to COVID-19, they were limited in what they could do for a good portion of the time in the channel. However, 2020 might have actually been the perfect year for this concept, since it gave people more strength and a sense of normalcy during the quarantine period. Having that daily assurance that they would upload a video gave everyone something to look forward to while locked indoors. Watching their wholesome interactions was guaranteed lighthearted content that we all definitely needed at the time.
From the time I started those videos and seeing how much has changed in life since the beginning, it showed me just how much can change in a year. By the end of the countdown, as I was watching the final livestream, I realized how quickly the time truly passed. When the timer ran out, as they deleted the channel right before our eyes, we were hit with this mixed feeling of disbelief and peace. Many people were begging them not to delete the channel, but many others, myself included, felt that deleting it would truly convey the message entirely. They couldn’t just go partway. In order to convey their message to the fullest, they had to finish what they started. No matter how badly everyone wanted them to keep the channel up, it would’ve defeated the purpose of the channel in the first place.
Whether we were on the side of “keep the channel” or “delete it”, we all went through the stages of grief during this final livestream. Watching the countdown timer go from 12 hours, to 8, to 4, to 1 hour, to 59 minutes, I was hit with the realization that it was almost over. This channel and these adventures that I had been a part of all this time, this quirky, talented community that I had come to enjoy spending time in, they were all about to be gone. When it reached 30 minutes on the timer, I just sat and thought about everything that happened throughout the year. All of these moments would be over, but although this was ending, the memories we created with this channel, the experiences we had, those we can carry with us for the rest of our lives.
After the stream ended, I found out that several of my friends had been keeping up with the channel as well. It was one of those things that we all watched in secret, never really talked about, but in the end, when it was all over, we all posted about it on social media. It was one of those things that we enjoyed, but explaining it or showing it to people would most likely lead to confusion and misunderstanding. The point of the channel was to teach the impact of death, that it may feel like we have all the time in the world, but realistically, we don’t know how much time we have, so we must make the best of whatever time we’re given. All we can do is live every moment to the fullest, since we’re not guaranteed tomorrow, we’re not even guaranteed an hour from now. But the point wasn’t to make life somber or scary; it wasn’t meant to make us fear the end. It’s to give us an appreciation for the time we have, and understand that everything comes to an end, therefore, we must make the most of it. Mark and Ethan conveyed such a valuable message in a way that people could fully grasp. They portrayed it in a way that people could visibly see and gave that community a new perspective and appreciation for life. Rather than constantly focusing on the end, they had fun, and with that, others had fun as well.