A YouTuber teaches us about a little something called grit.
Image: Jeffory Willis
People post a lot of silly stunts to YouTube, but one sub genre of video that always fascinated me is the boring endurance run. This can be a video of someone pressing the return key on an excel spreadsheet for 10 hours until he hits the program's limit, or simply a video of a guy spending almost 24 hours (!) counting to 100,000.
As an appreciator of competitive StarCraft, where a player's high actions per minute (APM) is a key skill, I was particularly impressed with a recent endurance video, in which a YouTuber and Twitch streamer who goes by the screen name Tocen clicked his mouse 1 million times. It took him little over 17 hours.
That's a lot of clicks, and as far as I can see, a heroic waste of everyone's time.
I had a lot of questions about this, primarily: ...Why?
I wanted answers, so I emailed Tocen, whose real name is Reno Baker.
Motherboard: Hey Reno. Why did you do this?
Reno Baker: After seeing MrBeast on YouTube count to 100,000, I felt inspired to complete a similar daunting task, only because I had the time.
How did you keep yourself entertained while you were clicking?
I was planning to watch some anime, listen to music, and just pass the time any way I could. But after 100,000 clicks I had realized how focused I was on clicking fast. I didn't want to divide my attention. Going for a world speed record that has never been set before was not something I had in mind for life after the military. But after realizing I've already started and I'm this far in, I had no choice but to focus all of my energy on the mission. So, while keeping my mind on the tempo of clicking, I would look around the room: gazing at the lit candle next to me, watching the number of clicks rise on the screen, and staring off into the distance for long periods of time.
You were in the military? If so, thank you for your service! How did you serve and for how long?
Yes, and thank you! I served for four years in the Air Force. I had just recently finished my service honorably a few months ago, and I really wanted to go after this YouTube dream when my service was done. I think my military family would be really happy to see where I'm going right now.
Did anything in the military prepare you for this? I don't mean to make light but I have friends who were in the army and they always talk about how there's a lot of boring downtime.
The skills I learned in BMT [basic military training] really prepared me for this. BMT was one of the most challenging things I've had to go through. And I know at 400,000 I was already comparing the clicks to some of the mentally breaking things we had done in training. Yes, we've had downtime. Every position in the military has its ups and downs. The Air Force brings in more people who are mentally adept. So I never had to do anything with combat, nor did I deploy overseas.
How many bathroom and food breaks did you take?
I took several short breaks to go to the bathroom. Staying hydrated was key to ensuring my click numbers would be maximized. While eating and drinking with one hand, I continued the clicking with the other. The exception to this being the celebratory "500,000 clicks" cake halfway through the challenge.
Why do you think there are so many endurance challenges like this on YouTube?
The internet has always been a place to showcase weird talents. I think what draws people in is seeing some of the ridiculous stuff "anyone could have done." Yes, anyone could have clicked a mouse one million times. But there still has to be that first person to do it. And when you get down to it, not many people have the time nor the will to do something for no good reason.
Do you think you're the first person to ever record himself doing a million clicks?
Yes, I believe I am the first person to ever do a million clicks in one sitting like this. And I don't believe anyone will ever attempt this again. Although, I am looking forward to seeing someone else try.
Tell me about this tracker you programmed for this video.
I've been using GameMaker for years, so making the program was easy. I just thought of some neat details I wanted to track throughout the video, and wrote a few lines of code for each of the algorithms that I needed. I chose a YouTube subscription theme for the main click counter to encourage others to subscribe. On the video, you'll see an estimation timer that shows how long it might take to entirely complete 1 million clicks, which was fairly accurate through the entire video. The pace counter keeps a pace of a million clicks in 40 hours, which is how long I expected this to take. Who would have thought my hands would actually get stronger and faster after the first 300,000? Not me.
What did the people close to you in real life, friends and family, say about this stunt?
My brothers were really excited that I was going to do something so crazy. My friends didn't believe I was actually going to do it. My wife really didn't care that much, but she was happy for me.
Any tips for other YouTubers doing endurance stunts like this?
Just get past the first few hours. If you can do that, you won't let yourself give up.
Thank you Reno, for everything.