Pranking has been a huge part of the online video world since its inception. Slapstick humor will always be endearing, but in the age of internet celebrities, pranking, sometimes deemed "social experiments", has become a point of much controversy recently. A lot of these videos claiming to be pranks are downright mean (read: stupid), blurring the line between what is and isn't socially acceptable. Take the infamous Sam Pepper whose videos, which often border on assault, came to mainstream attention with his video of grabbing women's asses.
Luckily, the prank territory isn't completely ruined online. My Mate Nate is bringing the innocence back to the mischief, showcasing the fun in pranking instead of the cheap shock value. AKA he's not a jerk. He's an American ex-Missionary who now calls Thailand home. And instead of being yet another millennial clichely traveling to the beaches of Thailand for a 2 week bender - I mean to find themselves - Nate Bartling really is your mate and overall good guy.
At just 19 Nate Bartling became a Missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but soon found his passions to lie in filmmaking, eventually evolving into his highly successful YouTube channel. "I was a missionary for two years. After that two year period ended I went back home to Utah and was planning to go to university like everyone else my age," said Bartling. Fast forward to today, and Nate is a world traveling, multi-lingo pranker taking his unique style of videos to the international table.
And the people of Thailand are taking notice, embracing the expat and his videos. "The reason my videos go viral and big is because I'm something new that most of the Thai people aren't familiar with. They want to know what foreigners think and feel about their country. Everyone LOVES to hear what other people think about themselves, so when I start rattling off in fluent Thai, the locals just got crazy... especially the younger generation who has grown up with the internet," Bartling explained.
When you visit My Mate Nate's channel, you really get the sense that Bartling's motives are pure. Straight up, they're fun, they're happy, and have a thread of wholesomeness woven throughout. And it's crazy to think that his virtuous reasons for creating content have become something to take note of online, but they have. He isn't making videos to 'go viral' or to make $$$ from endless product placements and sponsorship deals. As Nate tells it, "I think one of the biggest factors about my channel that helps me keep the sense of "wholesomeness" is that I'm not doing YouTube for the money. I do it because I love making videos. Even if I weren't getting paid, I would still be doing videos like this. I have other sources of income and I don't rely on YouTube to get by."
"This helps keep my channel more personal and more of how I want it, rather than just trying to make videos for the big viral hits. People making their living off youtube have to keep coming up with fresh ideas, and new things to keep getting new followers or else they won't have an income, whereas I just do it for fun and enjoy creating things that inspire people, and make them laugh along the way."
Nate's altruistic motives behind his channel come through in each of his videos. Like Sam Pepper, Bartling, surprisingly, has a video about slapping girl's butts. However, the video turns Pepper's video on it's head. Pinning the surprise on the men, and having the ladies be a part of the prank all along. He films the reaction of the unsuspecting bystanders and finds out what they would do if they were in the situation. Consent is key, even for clickbait.
On top of everything, Nate Bartling seems to really embrace and respect the people of Thailand. Pranking may be the core of his channel but by creating these moments of mischief Bartling is helping better the community. Being an expat in a foreign country is daunting at best, but Nate Barling has embraced the culture learning to speak fluent Thai. "Most Thai people love having a foreigner that can speak Thai, it just blows their mind that a white person is speaking their language" Bartling explained. His channel has evolved to not only showcase his epic pranks but also capture his perspective in Thailand, vlogging about his daily encounters and adventures. On top of it all Bartling has some impressive slow-motion videos that meld the prank mentality with the utterly mesmerizing effects of slow-mo.
His respect isn't the only factor in the integrity of his videos. His religious beliefs and keeping his visa are two factors that Bartling considers when conceptualizing his videos. "I'm a foreigner living in a new country so I have to be careful and not cross the line or else I risk getting my visa denied and kicked out of the country that I've spent so long trying to build my life in. The other things that helps keep me "in line" and not going too far over the top is my personal religious beliefs" Bartling explained.
My Mate Nate is proof that you don't have to be an boundary crossing asshat to get people online to notice you.