‘Emotionally draining’: Dad How Do I star is ‘struggling’ with Internet fame

Marni Dixit
Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer

When Rob Kenney started his YouTube channel 'Dad How Do I?' in April, the father-of-two had no idea he'd soon have more than two million followers watching his simple explainer videos on topics like 'How to tie a tie' or 'How to check your car's oil'.

Rob, who has two children, comes from a "fractured background" and doesn't have a relationship with his own father who walked out on him when he was just a child.

Rob Kenney of the YouTube channel Dad How Do I has revealed he's struggling with his new fame, saying it's 'emotionally draining'. Photo: YouTube

Speaking with Yahoo Lifestyle, he said that he decided to create the channel after being inspired by the many adulting questions he received from his daughter and son.

"I have two adult children, my son's 25 and my daughter's almost 28 and we talk all the time about adulting. And a couple of years ago I was just wondering what people who don't have a sounding board do, some stuff that won't obviously come across in a short video on YouTube, because there's more to being a dad than just showing you how to do stuff around the house. But yeah, in a small way I thought maybe this would help some people who just don't have somebody they can talk to," he explained.

"Like shaving, I didn't know how to shave, I came from a fractured background myself and so the first time I shaved it was a little intimidating. I'm not pretending that I know the best way to do everything, I'm just trying to show a way. It's not my way or the highway, it's just one way to do something."

He added, "It may not be the perfect way, but it works!"

When the channel first kicked off, Rob thought he would get 30 or 40 followers, but now he has over two million dedicated fans and no one is more surprised than the father himself.

Rob's first video shared to Dad How Do I was how to tie a tie, something he learned from his college roommate. Photo: YouTube

He said, "I don't think anyone could have prepared me for that, I thought I'd have honestly 30 or 40 followers and then my daughter shared it with a few kindness groups on Facebook and there was such a reception that I've had to get my head around – you know, I've grown through this whole thing too.

"She said, 'Dad are you OK if more people want to see this?' And I think my insecurities and that sort of stuff, I just need to overcome, if it's helping people.

"If it's helpful and if it needs to be helpful on that big a scale, I'll just have to deal with it. And it's been a little bit rough to deal with."

Many people online have joked about the fact that Rob has unwittingly adopted the whole Internet, something he is "humbled by".

"I'm humbled by it, I'm amazed. I feel like my subscribers are amazing, they're so supportive of me and encouraging of me. I feel like we've built a community of kindness. And I really like that, I'm humbled that I get to be a part of it."

He added, however, that the number of comments of people sharing their own heartbreaking stories has become very tough on him to deal with on a personal level.

"Since there is such a need for it, the flip side is there's a lot of hurting people in the world and that is emotionally draining for me. It's the reality that there's just a lot of people that don't have a parent or a relationship with a parent or whatever."

"If I was carrying that burden around and feeling like 'Oh, I've got to help all these people', you know, it's so much bigger than me. If I can help in my little small way, and I have a rock underneath me that's holding me – I think I'd be a wreck if I thought it was about me. I just feel like I'm being used in a small way to share God's love with people."

Rob said he was happy to be helping people, but never expected to have more than two million subscribers. Photo: YouTube

He added that the community that has been built around his channel has been so kind and supportive of each other which has helped take some of the weight off his shoulders.

"Early on when I had just a few subscribers I would write everyone back, if they took the time to write me, I'm going to write them back, I just wanted that connection, but it's just not possible now," he said.

All that truly matters to Rob is that his channel is helping people, "I'm glad I can help, I'm happy to help in my small way. I mean, I've had somebody say, 'Hey I was going on a job interview, I didn't know how to tie a tie,' so I was like, 'Oh right on! Good for you!'"

"I came from a fractured background, so I learned a lot from a lot of different people. I learned a lot from my brother, I learned how to tie a tie from my roommate when I was 20," he explained, adding that his channel is just one of the places people can learn from online.

He revealed that some of the videos he wants to do in the future include tips for fishing, setting up a tent and even finances. However, he doesn't want to try and teach anything he isn't already familiar with.

"Again, I'm a dad, so I've got to be careful with overstepping my bounds, because I don't think I want my channel to be about, 'Look what dad can do!' You know, like 'OK, I'm going to learn this so I can teach them!' I feel like there are enough things that I can share that I actually do know how to do without having to learn something to pretend I already knew how to do it."

When asked how it felt to be Internet famous, Rob said that the strangest part about it was seeing his face everywhere online, "Thankfully, we're wearing masks when we go out. It hasn't happened yet, but I'm wondering when it's going to happen that someone will be like, 'Hey that's Dad How Do I!' It's going to happen eventually, but for now I've been able to postpone it, because we're all wearing masks."

Rob revealed that recently he'd been struggling about whether he should upload videos during this difficult time for fear he'd appear 'tone deaf'. Photo: YouTube

Speaking of the protests in the US following the tragic death of George Floyd, who was killed by a police officer who kept his knee on George's neck despite his many pleas, Rob said he was worried that releasing videos right now might come off as "tone deaf".

"It is a weird time, and in the States, we're going through a tough time right now. Oh my goodness, it's hard.

"I'm even struggling – I was talking to my daughter this morning because tomorrow I would normally do Tool Tuesday, I started this new thing... But with all that's going on in the world I'm struggling with being tone deaf or being out of touch with reality. I think people are coming to my channel for something a little light with all the heaviness in the world, so I'm trying to balance that. I'm like do I postpone Tool Tuesday this week, just to let people know that I'm praying for our country.

"So, I'm struggling with that, I honestly don't know the answer yet. I don't know if I'm going to do Tool Tuesday tomorrow or not, just because I want to be sensitive. Because I'm kind of tired of seeing myself! People are probably thinking, 'Who is this guy? Go away!'"

Rob revealed that one of the things that surprised him the most about his new Internet fame was the fact that he'd become somewhat of an influencer with a hardware company in the US creating content with him for Father's Day which is coming up in the States.

"I also talked to Ryan Seacrest on a podcast, if I would have told you that two weeks ago, such a short time ago, you'd have taken me to the looney bin!"

As for whether he'd consider being a full-time YouTuber, Rob said he's thinking about it very seriously, and there might be some big things to come!

"We're looking into that now, so yeah, we've had other opportunities that people have approached us about, about maybe a TV show possibly too."

"If it's something that's useful and helpful and people want it, yeah I'm not opposed to it. I just need to overcome my insecurities with some of it."

He also wanted to make sure to thank his Australian audience, saying, "Early on, Australia, for some reason – you know, in my limited knowledge I'm able to see who's watching the videos, and I thought, 'Australia! How did it get big in Australia!' So, I appreciate your support."

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