A Lesson From Casey Neistat

By Hayden Regeling on October 7th, 2019

Instant gratification is easy to find nowadays. Have you heard of YouTube? If you are between the ages of 13 and 30 you have grown up in a time that saw the explosion of the media platform known as YouTube. Unlike anything before, YouTube gave us the possibility of an instantaneous, worldwide audience for digital media. YouTube forever changed how we digest visual things. For the first time ever, one could spend hours and hours watching content brought to their glowing rectangles by people just like them. Instant, free entertainment.

“Instant gratification is easy to find nowadays. Have you ever heard of YouTube?”

It is incredibly addicting for the consumer. But what about the creator?

Enter Casey Neistat. Casey is a film maker and a “YouTuber” (the name of people who make a living off of the ad revenues from their videos on YouTube) based out of NYC and LA . In 2015, Casey decided to upload a vlog (like a blog but the video version) about his life every, single, day. He did it for 800 days consecutively. During this time, his YouTube channel took off! He now has over 11.4 million (yes, million!) subscribers. Subscribers are people that get notifications to their phone or laptop whenever Casey puts a new video on YouTube. They are his followers.

In an TV interview recently by Hansan Minhaj on his show called the Patriot Act on Netflix, Hansan asked Casey straight up, “Why did you do it? How could you do this and not go crazy?”

Casey’s answer, “When you start, it’s a creative output and then with YouTube you get this immediate response, this dopamine high, this immediate ego fluff. The second, not the minute, the second you hit the “upload” button, you get those thumbs up from people. The view count starts to go up and then people start with the comments. And it does, it moves you. It gets you excited…you get so caught up in it and it really took over who I was.”

“The second, not the minute, the second you hit the “upload” button, you get those thumbs up from people”

I am blown away by Casey’s honesty and vulnerability.

Hearing this quote, I think all the footage I have seen of skiers riding down a mountain. At first, everything seems in control but then as speed begins to pick up and momentum increases, all attempts to slow down only create the worst thing in this situation, an avalanche. Skiers often go faster because they can’t hit the brakes for fear of what it will cause.

If instant gratification fuelled Casey Netstat’s vlog for 800 consecutive days without a break, it is safe to say it can get in the way of the rest that need. Nobody is made to work 800 days in a row.

Think about how the Bible talks about work and rest. We see the Sabbath enter early on in the book of Genesis. Right at the beginning when God created the heavens and earth in six days and he rested on the seventh. Israelite society was set up in such a way that there was a balance between work and rest. Jesus famously talks about the Sabbath day as a day created for us because we actually need it to survive and thrive.

Interesting that even the most famous, the most successful in their field, like Casey Neitstat, can’t escape the fact that God created human beings to need rest. Uploading a video every single day burned him out.

Often times, the reason we take on too much, forget to rest, and constantly keep moving is because we, also, are addicted to instant gratification. Just one more email sent, or phone call made. Just one more sale, client, or conversation. It doesn’t matter where it comes from, it gets us. For me personally, when I find myself forgetting to rest, it is because I get caught up in the satisfaction I get from finishing a task or accomplishing a goal. It could even be as simple as mowing the lawn, or going for a run.

What about you? How do you hit the brakes in your life?

Sabbath is good for us because it reshapes what gratifies us. When we aren’t “accomplishing” anything, what’s the point? If we aren’t “doing” anything useful, why exist?

In an age of mass media and instant gratification, we need Sabbath to remind us that the bare basic calling we receive from God as humans is to be God’s children.

We forget that we don’t earn this by working hard or doing more. We receive this identity from Jesus. He has paid the price to redeem our tainted image into a perfect one. The pressure of performance is off. The gospel takes instant gratification and replaces it with something better. Unconditional love. Resting from our work helps this sink in.

This is why real rest is only possible through Christ. Every Sabbath, I set an email response that lets people know that I won’t be responding to emails that day. I do this more for myself than for others (If I didn’t add this every week I would probably find myself scrolling through my inbox and searching for people who “need” me or “urgent” tasks I can do to make myself feel useful). In this auto-response, I remind myself and others that “Today is a day that I rest in the beauty of God’s grace to us in Jesus. He is making all things new.” Even this simple tool reminds me that I can rest because of Him. 

One last remark by Casey. He says, “the irony is that I have a tattoo that says “Do more” and now I am getting a tattoo that says “Do less, sleep more”.

Maybe we should all take this to heart. Doing more will never satisfy our desire to be loved. Only Christ can do that. Do less, sleep more.

Thanks, Casey.


What do you do to fight against our culture’s addiction to instant gratification?

How do we teach and model rest in a culture obsessed with instantaneous speed and productivity?