Yehya Mouharbel became famous by studying during broadcast on social network.
Exams are coming and reminders are everywhere. Past exams are on the screen and subject review schedules are hung on the walls.
But for Yehya Mouharbel, a 22-year-old business and marketing student at the University of Surrey in the UK, the pressure is greater. Of course, he’s working to meet his deadlines—but at the same time, he’s motivating his 469,000 TikTok followers to meet his, too.
A few times a week, in his dorm room at the university, Mouharbel places his cell phone on the bedroom table, turns on the camera, and broadcasts himself studying.
There is nothing very extraordinary about your videos. There are none of the dances that the app is famous for, no memes, nor any kind of conversation while he is studying. Mouharbel looks at the camera in front of him and starts playing a calm playlist, occasionally accompanied by the clatter of his keyboard as he looks down.
“People just like to see me study,” he says. “They study by my side and feel less alone.”
Mouharbel grew up in London and knows that feeling. He started filming his daily routine on TikTok about a year ago after a person he wanted to date said he “didn’t live a responsible life”.
“That motivated me to create this kind of content, to show her and others that living alone is a lot of behind-the-scenes work that people don’t normally see,” he says, adding that because he’s a perfectionist and spends “a lot of time” on his tasks, he hoped the videos would make him more productive.
And it was the study videos that really took off. Soon he was gaining 2-3k followers with every new video.
“In the beginning, I made these videos mainly for myself – to keep myself accountable and on track to do my job. Once I saw that people were watching the videos and finding them useful, it became a doubly beneficial situation,” he says. he.
Mouharbel sends advance notices to his followers about the videos, which usually take place at night, depending on his workload. “I once did it from 6 pm to 6 am, imagine! It was a 12-hour video, just because I had a deadline to meet the next day.”
Alternative in the pandemic
More than 6,000 kilometers from Surrey – in St. Louis, Missouri, United States – 24-year-old Casey Keith watches Mouharbel’s videos twice a week to help her study in medical school.
She discovered the videos while scrolling through TikTok to, in her words, “try not to study”. The face-to-face study rooms she used to frequent with her friends were closed due to the pandemic, so she developed a habit of procrastinating while studying at home.
Mouharbel’s videos stood out in his feed. The whiteboard positioned on her desk made her stop wasting time scrolling the screen and try to study with him.
“I said ‘okay, let’s try this,'” she says. “I went and started studying, as the book was open in front of me.” And before long, Mouharbel became his virtual study buddy.
“It’s great to have someone around to help motivate you,” she says.
“I think one of the main points that works well for me is that I can’t physically talk to him. I can’t turn to him and say, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore, I’m tired, I just want to eat dinner and go to bed’. “, explains Keith. “Sometimes it can be difficult and I’m ready to finish, but just seeing him inspires me to keep going.”
Leigh-Anne Perryman, Senior Lecturer at the Open University Institute of Educational Technology in the UK, says studying all alone “can lead to procrastination and a lack of motivation”, while having a study buddy can provide “low level of distraction”. what is useful.
“Before the pandemic, it was common for people to study in the library, in silence, with their peers, or in a cafe – reaching this low level of distraction. The pandemic has made this impossible for many people,” explains Perryman.
“This type of live video offers a safe and easily accessible alternative – and the habits that started in the pandemic have apparently continued, now that face-to-face interaction is becoming more practicable,” she says.
Mouharbel studies with the so-called Pomodoro method, whereby we study for a certain period of time (he uses a timer to mark 50-minute periods) and then take a break (in this case, 10 minutes).
During the break, he refills the indispensable coffee mug and goes to the bathroom. But he also speaks to his followers, answering questions that pop up in the comments on everything from what snacks he’s been eating to where he buys his study equipment. Not to mention the questions about Herbert, the teddy bear that can sometimes be seen in his bed.
For Claire Cashman, a 25-year-old UK law student, those breaks make all the difference. Like Keith, she was scrolling “without purpose” on TikTok when Mouharbel’s video caught her eye due to the song she was playing.
“I’m attracted to classical music and film scores. I think it was two cellos playing at the same time and that attracted me,” she says. “The minimalist environment, the lighting and all the energy of the study made me want to stay until the break, when he talks to his followers. Since then, I have hardly stopped watching.”
Yehya Mouharbel’s videos started out as a way to impress a person of interest and increase productivity. They may not have worked for dating, but productivity has increased. Now he finds himself surrounded by an online community and his ability to concentrate has increased.
Mouharbel is finishing his degree, but hopes to pursue a master’s degree, which will bring more online study sessions. “It’s very encouraging to see someone join you and study alongside you.”
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