John “TotalBiscuit” Bain is not the first to struggle with social media as he’s become more popular, nor is he the first to announce he’s quitting a service like Twitter. But uniquely, the YouTube star is living with terminal cancer, and his statement on why he’s leaving is gut-wrenching and understandable.
Bain first discussed his struggle with cancer in 2014. Despite receiving treatment, in October 2015, Bain revealed the cancer was ultimately inoperable.
“Average life expectancy is 2-3 years, though there are outliers that live much longer,” he wrote at the time. “I’ll be back on chemo in a few weeks, with the goal of pushing it back and keeping it there for as long as possible. I fully intend to be the outlier, the average is this way because most people that get this are old and not strong anymore.”
In the last few days, Bain expressed anxiety over how his work was discussed and criticized in places like reddit. Despite his popularity, Bain seemed to be deeply interested in what people thought about his work, but found himself unable to stay away from it, even when it was impacting his mental health.
Thus, the decision to step away from Twitter. He’ll still be making videos, but he hopes moving away from social media is for the best, in the years he has.
Rather than excerpt his statement, I’ve transcribed it below, but I recommend listening to the whole thing. It’s only a few minutes, and it’s powerful.
Well, you’ve heard this many times before, but maybe this will actually be the time this happens. I’m done with social media. I’ve had it. It’s enough.
Look, let’s be real here about the reality of what could happen over the next few years. In a few years, I could very well be dead—two to three [years to live] average is what I’m given for this particular form of this disease. I intend to outlive that by a significant margin, but if it ends up being the last few years of my life, I want to spend them not being fucking miserable. And if that involves disconnecting from everybody, so be it.
My family is gonna come first, my fucking mental health is gonna come first. The expectation that everyone who ever made it on the Internet’s gotta be constantly connected to their fans all the time 24 hours a day 24/7 is insane. It’s unreasonable. Nobody can fucking handle it. Nobody. [sighs] God. You have no idea how many of my friends are in therapy just because of this job.
I even know what you’re going to say. I know what the fucking naysayers are going to say. You’re going to turn around and tell me “ah, you’ll be back.” Yeah, maybe. I might be—because I’m fucked in the head, as I’ve explained many times. It’s a problem. It’s an obsession. But I’ve got to make at least a concerted effort to stop it. This is the only way I know how because I’ve tried every other way. I’ve been trying for years. It doesn’t work. I’m done.
So as of now, my Twitter account is in the hands of Chris [an assistant], and he is under explicit instructions not to let me post anything on it. If I tell him to post something, he’s not going to do it. He’s been told to put up the videos, make announcements, remind people of upcoming events, that’s it. After this Soundcloud is done, I’m giving him control of the Soundcloud—so I’done with that, too. There are not going to be anymore personal Soundcloud audio blogs. This Soundcloud is here solely to host the podcast and and audio versions of my YouTube content. This will be it.
I want no way—no way at all—to contact the wider Internet outside of my work. I don’t want to do it anymore. It’s too much. So that’s how it’s going to be. There will be YouTube videos and there will be streams. If I could, I’d probably shut down the chat in my stream, as well, but I think, at least, that stays reasonable the vast majority of the time so I could probably handle that. We’ll see. That’s probably going to get fucked up as well, isn’t it?
[sighs] There’s the thing. I would delete my Twitter right now if I could. I would delete it. I can’t. I legally can’t. [laughs] I’m under contract. I have to maintain this Twitter for my YouTube channel and for my sponsorship agreements. For my contractual obligations, it has to exist. I can’t get rid of it. So the only thing I can do is make sure that I can never post on it. Hopefully, if I never post on it, I’ll have no desire to read the responses to it, and it’ll be far harder for me to see it.
So that’s how it’s going to be. I’m going to make YouTube videos and you can do one of two things: you can watch them or you can not watch them. That’s up to you. If I end up losing a bunch of money from this because people feel the need to connect with me, otherwise they can’t appreciate my content, so be it. I’ll be happier. Money’s awesome, but it can’t buy me out of this…whatever this is. It hasn’t helped. What you’re gonna get is content, that’s it. Enjoy it or don’t—it’s up to you. I’m handing this Soundcloud account to Chris now, so this will be the last time I post on it. I know what’s going to happen now.
The usual people come out of the woodwork and go “ah, you can’t take criticism, nyah!” And all that other shit. OK! Fine. I accept it. I can’t take criticism. I’m dying of terminal cancer. I don’t think I need to read your Internet criticism of me. I think I’ll live longer if I don’t. And you know what? That should be the priority. I don’t want to leave my wife and son behind. I don’t want to do it. I don’t want to leave my friends behind. I don’t want to leave my job behind. I don’t want to leave my pets behind. I don’t want to leave my family behind. [pause] No. If that’s the price—that I don’t read your feedback? Or I don’t take your criticism into account? I’m going to pay that price. I will happily pay that price.
This is my fucking life, and what is left of it I am going to take control back. Sorry if this disappoints people. I know the vast majority of you are cool and you like this level of interaction, but if this is going to be the last few years that I get to live, I’m going to try and live it in a way that doesn’t make me miserable. I have too much shit on my plate as it is. I don’t need anymore.
Know that the vast majority of you, I appreciate you every day. It’s why I thank you at the end of every video. You let me live my dream, and I’m so very grateful for that. I’m going to go back to work now. See ya.
Our thoughts are with you, John.
You can reach the author of this post at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @patrickklepek.