Jon Has No Chill
Posted by <Devin Thomas O'Shea> on 2021-09-15
Back when Jon shot his videos on a laptop, he told the camera his wife wanted him to have a vasectomy. Jon started his YouTube channel to document the reasons why he wanted to get this vasectomy—they were different reasons than those of his wife, but his wife, of course, played a role. Then the channel became a way for Jon to document his divorce. Then it became a document of Jon’s dating as a father in his forties.
Jon called his YouTube channel, Jon Has No Chill because he liked the slang of it. He’d picked it up from Highest Praise, the youth group he led in the Ohio suburbs.
Two weeks after the operation, Jon uploaded a video announcing his divorce.
Since that divorce upload, Jon has posted five videos per week every week—he bought a 2012 Nikon camera and a tripod to frame the inside of his garage. A red snow shovel always hangs on the wall behind Jon as he reads his script for a vlog titled, “YOU DO NOT DESERVE ROMANTIC LOVE.”
In the week after the divorce, Jon filmed in a bedroom, sitting on the edge of a neatly made bed without a bedframe, crying. Through the tears, he recounted his relationship with his older brother.
Jon has somewhere between two and five children—the count is unclear and I’m the only one who watches. I don’t want to ask. I don’t want him to know about me besides that little number that goes up beneath his videos. I’m one of the numbers—I may account for a few of those numbers on any one video, but they never break double digits.
In May of last year, Jon got a tattoo on his left wrist—barbed wire looped around a silver cross. Jon is losing his hairline at the forehead. Jon flat irons his beard. He heats up a hair straightener, and irons out his beard hair, and takes a little razor to the edges to perfectly box up his facial hair which makes Jon look slightly pixelated. At times when I am watching his videos late at night, I think of him as my low-resolution friend. He is my digital cousin whose life I peer into through a spectator window of his own making. He sets out the spotlights, and powers the marquee, and screams “Everyone come look!” on the internet, but I am the only one buying a ticket. There is too much noise online, and Jon does not have what it takes to break through. Nor would he want to if he did. I have watched Jon for a long time. He does not handle stress well.
Jon applies rouge to his cheeks for videos. In a vlog called “Ladies, I Love You,” he does spoken-word poetry accompanied by a soft piano. To the camera in his garage, red snow shovel over his right shoulder, he says, gently, “Ladies, I love the way you laugh… Ladies, I love the way you walk… Ladies, I love the way you dance… ‘specially the ones who can’t dance,” he winks to the camera, “and the ones who don’t care… you’re just… free… you’re just… there.”
I hate Jon for this. I hate Jon. I hate Jon. I cringe at these videos; I want a goon to break his fingers one by one, and why? Because of a desire to be heard? He’s corny, but corny people exist. They are out there, and they should be able to date. He’s mind-bogglingly untalented, and I watch when he uploads, because I’m a fan.
Like the works of Plato, most of Jon’s vlogs are about how to live a good life. He rails against modernity (too many cell phones). He preaches. He’s here to help you. How do you navigate disloyal friends? What is friendship? Why can’t I sing a Christmas song without offending everyone in this suffocating PC culture?
Jon begins his videos by yelling the first line of his script as loud as he can. The outro is important because it is the final message to the audience; the final note as they walk away, maybe forever, down an endless hallway, never to smash that subscribe button or hit the bell for notifications. Every vlog ends with his motto: “Life is not a race to the bottom,” cut, edit, reframe, “but a climb to the top.”
The rapid cuts on a Jon Has No Chill video translates to days of editing. Over three years, I’ve watched the production quality improve. Jon bought new lights, and a new camera, and wears expensive t-shirts now—pattern tees with pockets of a clashing pattern.
Jon discusses his love for his kids slightly less often than he discusses his love of Jesus. And Jon, to his credit, doesn’t put his kids on camera, but he does duets on TikToks with underage girls all the time, and it’s creepy.
“A lot of times in life,” Jon says to the camera, sweat dripping off his face, making a vlog in his black yard, “things take root and take hold in our lives, and our hearts, and in our minds not because of us actively pursuing them, but because of what we allow to come into our gardens, into our hearts, into our lives, into our minds. So it’s easy to blame someone else because I didn’t plant it, and it came from over there,” Jon says pointing to his neighbor’s yard, which is lush and green. In the video, Jon is standing in the brown dead grass of his own yard. “I allowed it. I let it in.”
I have no kids. I live with my parents in the basement of my childhood home. I have no job, or belief in God, or hobby making music. Jon is superior to me in his creative endeavors, he is more connected to the world.
In a video promoting his first album, “This is Living,” a group of twenty Highest Praise teens were led down into the church basement where, interview-style, they are seated on a stool in a wood panel room. From behind the camera, Jon asks them, “Who is Jon Beaverdam?”
“Jon is a man’s man,” said a teenage boy with braces.
“Jon is a father,” said a young woman in a Central High hoodie.
A sample of Jon’s music: “Oh, I’m stuck in the middle, my heart is in the front seat, my mind is second fiddle.”
The lyrics, “If you’re my question, I’m the answer to the riddle,” kept returning when I had too much to drink on Christmas Eve and conducted another argument with my parents. We fight about the dire state of the world—I say things are bad and getting worse, they do not disagree. “Then what are we supposed to do?” I ask, because the bills are piling up, my parents are getting old, the forests are on fire, there’s no plan.
Jon doesn’t care if you’re “black, white, green, orange, or purple.” But Jon hates atheists. Jon thinks the atheists and pagans should be rounded up.
Jon Has No Chill has fifty-two subscribers.
On the bright side, Jon has lost weight and stopped speaking ill of his ex-wife on camera. He discusses hurt in a video called, “THE NATURE OF REAL LOVE.” In this video, Jon says that, “Quieting pain is as easy as choosing not to suffer.”
Have you tried turning your feelings off?
I often feel like I am yelling into the void too; toiling beneath a sword that will drop at any moment; unable to see how pathetic my efforts are. I worked the same car wash job since I was fifteen, and now I’m seven months unemployed. I help my uncle do odd jobs when I can, but mostly I sit and wait and hope for something to happen. I can’t afford therapy; I am very angry. I am angry about everything. And here is Jon, telling me that all I need to do is think differently. He tells me that life is not a race to the bottom, but a climb to the top, but I feel there is no way to the top. He and I are trapped at the bottom, and below us is the meat grinder. There are forces that prevent us from climbing, there are mechanisms beyond our control, periods of history we are powerless against because we are all alone, making YouTube videos in our garages.
Jon’s most recent video is called “BREATHE.” It has been up for a week and has seven views. A wise, calm, version of Jon—With Glasses—tells the insecure, vulnerable, Jon—Without Glasses—to breathe: “Breathing alleviates the sense that I am in prison. I am dying inside for just one moment of stillness. I know in my heart that I just need to find quiet and breathe. Breathe.”