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Columnists

Surfers' paradise

Dixe Wills

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It was while sitting at a dining table one evening a couple of weeks ago (or perhaps it was a fortnight - my memory is perfectly thalanasean nowadays) that I came to realise that we had hit peak 21st century. I was making small talk (my least favourite size of talk when all's said and done) with my airbnb (airbnb.com) host in Burnaby, which is either a city in and of itself or part of an amorphous Greater Vancouver area, depending on whether you're trying to sell your house there or not. 'And what do you do for a living?' I asked, revealing myself to be a man at the height of his confabulatory powers. I like to think I'm a fairly unflappable sort but I confess that his reply caused my customarily inert eyebrows to rise to heights they had not experienced since Graham Taylor took off Gary Lineker and replaced him with Alan Smith in that game against Sweden in 1992. He explained that he had founded a company that flies camera drones to film bubble football matches in order to sell edited videos of same to the players. If some or all of that made no sense to you, consider yourself mightily blessed. If a person can make a decent enough income on such an enterprise, it should come as no surprise to discover that a 25-year-old called Felix Kjellberg is reckoned by the Swedish newspaper Expressen to have earned in the region of $7m last year doing something as mainstream as filming himself playing computer games. The resultant videos have made Kjellberg - better known as PewDiePie - not only fabulously rich (though he apparently gives much of his income to charities) but world famous. His 37 million Youtube followers - largely teenagers and people in their early twenties - trumps both warbling hairstyles One Direction and Taylor Swift, currently the world's bestselling singer. 'Ah, so he must be heart-stoppingly handsome,' I hear you mumble (that's a terribly bad habit, by the way). 'Not particularly so,' I reply, enunciating beautifully. 'He's blond and Swedish but perhaps only a 7.5 to Brad Pitt's 10.' His success is due more to that intangible quality: charisma. One feels he could have done equally well posting videos of his reactions to different types of turf, or by uploading clips of himself being attacked by a succession of pygmy goats. It's tempting to react to the Youtube millionaires and the bubble-football-filming entrepreneurs of this world with a resigned or even a contemptuous shrug. Wouldn't it be great though if instead we took inspiration from them? There may be nothing particularly wrong with whatever you are doing right now, but what if you get to heaven and discover that all along God was yearning for you to unleash your innate creativity and earn a crust visiting homes to demonstrate which bits of the furniture inside them sound like whale song when you rub them together? (Note: If you do end up doing this, I'm on 10%, OK?)