One of the most interesting but often overlooked passages in Robinson Crusoe is his daily log. However, I found it perplexing that our class was so repulsed by this detailed log of fictional events. Through many research studies, it has been proven that when people lie (like when telling a fictional account), they often give far too much detail in order to convince the reader that they are, in fact, not fallacious. While that most certainly is the case in this book, some find the monotony of Crusoe’s everyday life to sound almost too familiar. Many would consider Robinson Crusoe as an ultimately tedious text, but it is surprising that the current generation dislikes the format of daily logs as they very much enjoy watching “vloggers” that create logs that show the daily details of their lives, just as Crusoe does.
Although it may not be known by the majority of the older generation, young people enjoy watching others live their “boring” everyday life in video logs, otherwise known as “vlogs,” through many online mediums, the most popular of these being Youtube. Thousands of these so-called “vloggers” produce video logs of everything in their lives from their meals to their clothing combinations, and they sometimes even speak about their hardships. The reception of these “vloggers” is incredible, as many of them have millions of subscribers watching their reality. To link back to Defoe’s novel, Crusoe frequently logs his troubles to find food, his creation of new tools, and his hardships of loneliness. These struggles are directly correlated with what the ”vloggers” experience today, just 300 years prior. So why is it that we praise the “vlogger” for being so transparent about his/her daily experience, but we find Crusoe’s log of his time on the island to be so ridiculously boring? While some could dispute that the video aspect of “vloggers” gives them a new and exciting take on the daily log, I would argue that the basic premise is the same. Babbling on about random happenings of the day has always been fascinating to humans. Therefore, we mustn’t chastise Crusoe for his writings about the island; they are the only format in which he can record and later share his story with the rest of the world.
The similarities between Crusoe’s log and many “vlogs” are indeed striking. Both include a time or date controlled line of events and often include an analysis of these events. For example, on page 110 of Robinson Crusoe, he spends time “cooking the turtle” and he finds the meat to be “the most savory and pleasant that I had ever tasted in my life”(Defoe 110). In comparison, Ellen Fischer, a YouTube daily “vlogger,” films her family picking Poah Berries, and her son exclaims that the berries “are really good” (Fisher). This comparison shows that both mediums feature food foraging and flavor analysis, furthering the idea that Crusoe’s logs are not so different than modern vlogs. Another example of their similarities is how they choose to list their daily schedule. Crusoe will list by day what task he completes; for example, on November 1, he describes that he “set up my (his) tent under a rock” and on November 3, he “went out with my (his) gun and kill’d two fowls like ducks” (Defoe 106). Similarly, another “vlogger,” Tayna Burr, describes her routine as “brush my teeth, put on deodorant, and then it’s time to get dressed” (Burr). Even though both of these texts describe a routine daily happening, some would even find Crusoe’s routine to be more interesting than the modern “vlog.”
Crusoe’s log is not a new convention, nor is it outdated by any means. Through studying many different cultures, I have always found what people choose to record to be very interesting. In earlier cultures, people would record history through art and sculpture to tell their stories. In Defoe’s story, Crusoe records everything he sees, feels, and experiences so that if he dies, someone will know his story. In today’s context, our cultural “vloggers” record their lives for sheer entertainment. Maybe we should not be so hard on Crusoe’s log because it is not only Crusoe’s life that is monotonous, but our culture and the “vloggers” we enjoy.
Defoe, Daniel, and Evan R Davis. Robinson Crusoe. Broadview Press, 2014.
Fisher, Ellen. “A DAY IN OUR HAWAII LIFE | Big Island Abundance.” YouTube, YouTube, 20 Nov. 2017, www.youtube.com/watch?v=2KRcfB_WhyM.
Burr, Tanya. “My Summer Morning Routine | Tanya Burr.” YouTube, YouTube, 17 Aug. 2017, www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mUM3_ad_XM&t=49s.