Filmmaker Jeremiah McDonald Chats with his 12 Year Old Self

by JoHarrington

'A Conversation With My 12 Year Old Self: 20th Anniversary Edition' is the latest viral YouTube video. It's worth the hype.

Imagine that you decided as a child that you wanted to talk to yourself as an adult... What do you mean that you did?

Yes, I know. We all did.

And as adults, we really wish we could nip back to deliver a few words of advice (and the odd stern lecture), which would inevitably end up turning us into totally different people. Then we might not go back and have the chat. Which would cause a paradox and the end of time and space.

But back to the plot. Imagine that you not only wished to talk to your adult self, but fetched a camcorder and recorded your side of said conversation.

Then, twenty years later, hunting through a drawer of old VHS videos, you found that video. That's precisely what happened to Comédie de Caen film-maker Jeremiah McDonald and this is the result.

A Conversation With My 12 Year Old Self: 20th Anniversary Edition

Jeremiah McDonald's Video Goes Viral on YouTube

But haters gonna hate, so it already has its detractors.

Uploaded on July 5th 2012, the Conversation received over 2m hits within the first twenty-four hours.

As media all over the internet picked up the story (including, we should acknowledge, Wizzley), the surge of hits shows no sign of abating.

It isn't difficult to work out why.  Who amongst us hasn't day-dreamed of having a conversation with our younger selves, at some time in our lives?  Not to mention the deliciousness of the whole time travel idea.

This universal longing is what makes shows like Dr Who so popular in the first place.  This is like The Five Doctors happening to an ordinary man.

Ok, so it's make-believe. It's not a real conversation between 12 and 32 year old Jeremiah McDonald.  But it sounds like it is, and that is quite wonderful.

Nevertheless, some have already found cause to complain.  That's the flip side of the human condition. Give someone an ounce of fame and potential fortune, and you can set your clock by the time it takes the envious to start moaning about them.

Within hours of the Conversation going live, a response was already being posted calling Jeremiah a fake.  It's a staged piece of theater, using a child actor, claims ThatAngryAsianGuy.

I somehow feel that he was missing the point.

The Time Travel Handbook

How to Build a Time Machine

Pausing to Recall Those Childhood Dreams

Can you cast your mind back that far? If so, how do you match up to the ideals of your younger self?

When I was 12, I wanted to be a writer and an Amnesty International activist. I also wanted Margaret Thatcher to no longer be prime minister.

Fast forwards to the modern day.  Looks around.  Result! 

Ok, I've been a little selective in what I remember dreaming back then. The reality would have had far too much Duran Duran in it.

Then again, Jeremiah was probably also a little selective in how he edited his old home videos. So we're quits there!

The point, as far as I see it, is that the Conversation makes us stop and take stock. Twelve is such a wonderful age (in hindsight; in reality, it was full of the rigors and petty cruelties of puberty and school). Your whole future is ahead of you and anything that you want to be is there for the achieving. Dreams get dreamed in full expectation that they can be made real.

Twenty years on, we are much more jaded. It feels like your groove is set for life and it's not worth making any better plans.  (Despite the fact that life expectancy in the West means that you aren't even halfway there yet.)

It does us good to sit back and have our own conversations with our inner twelve year old.  Then hopefully give ourselves the requisite kick in the rear and get on with the dreaming again.

Though I obviously still reserve the option not to marry all of Duran Duran.

Buy a Time Travel Machine on eBay

It's times like this that I really, really love eBay. Oh! The possibilities!
Updated: 01/24/2014, JoHarrington
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What would you say if you could chat with your twelve year old self?

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JoHarrington on 07/10/2012

I'm glad that you liked it. I've just checked. He's up to 6m hits on his video now!

Kate on 07/10/2012

A fantastic thought provoking article. Thanks for sharing the great link too

JoHarrington on 07/06/2012

I've not read that one. Though your description has me buzzing with questions. I'd better find it and read it forthwith!

chefkeem on 07/06/2012

Somehow this reminds me of Richard Bach's book, "Running From Safety". Fifty years ago, he had made a promise to come back through time and teach himself everything he had learned from living. The pledge was forgotten until the day when, midair in his paraglider, Richard met Dickie Bach, age nine, who expected the promise to be kept...

Utterly fascinating and inspiring book.

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