These are thoughts I’ve actually had in my head ever since YouTube became a legitimate platform for artists, bloggers, and so on - although a sudden increase in concerning events have brought my fingers to the keyboard, and I’ll apologize in advance in the case that this becomes a lengthy rant.
I think the most appealing part about YouTube is that anyone with a camera phone, an idea, and an internet connection can accidentally become famous, if only for a month. Anyone can think of something quirky and jot it down and maybe influence enough people to watch their channel, through crazy thumbnails or legitimately interesting concepts, and get to the front page. Everyone has a voice now. Everyone can be heard, and that’s such a great thing!
But I think it can be incredibly scary, too. It’s terrifying if you actually take the time to think about it. I mean, at first, it’s not bad. You have a small channel, you make videos in your free time and a few people watch them and enjoy them. That validation that your ideas are interesting and fun to watch, that people take their precious time to listen to what you have to say, is invigorating. The possibility that your single voice could make any change in this world is wonderful, and it’s a fantastic feeling to have.
In the beginning, it’s easy. Low expectation, low casualty if you decide to drop out. You have little to no chance of hurting people with any of your videos because your audience is so small you pretty much know what topics to avoid in order to keep the peace.
You have a hundred followers, and wow, it feels so good that ONE HUNDRED people like your work.
You have a thousand followers. A THOUSAND?! You couldn’t even have a party for them, but you are still able to keep up with most of the fan mail and the tweets. Everyone has their own lives, after all, and not everyone is focused on you.
Then you have a million.
That is one million people.
That is a huge population of people that you couldn’t possibly hope to chat with individually at one time - what an awful host/ess you’d be! Some people wouldn’t be able to see you and they’d be upset, but hopefully they would understand how impossible that is, right?
Five million people.
Six million people.
This is great but-
Seven million people.
Okay, but can I just talk to-
Eight million people.
Jesus, I can’t-
35 MILLION PEOPLE.
And you are only one.
And your hobby has become a job devoted to keeping the peace in your fandom. What used to be a fun distraction has become a tight rope of anxiety over a sea of 35 million matches below you, and there’s no possible way of knowing how to avoid each strike.
I can’t imagine that. That metaphor might be totally off base, but when I think about that many people - even a million, even a thousand, even a hundred - watching my channel and getting frustrated if I don’t upload a video or if I suddenly get a love interest or if I decided that I wanted to move on to something else.
People that could tell me that my videos are the only thing keeping them alive.
People that write about me in ways I know I’m not, thousands of times because to them, I’m a blank slate.
People that I would suddenly become responsible for, and why?
Because I decided to make a channel that a lot of people enjoyed, and that’s not bad at all! But…
Listen, I have a hard time catering to the 30 people currently subscribed to me - and I only have 10 videos up and I’m not even sure if this is the direction I want to take, even for five years of my life, because there’s that potential that I get too popular. And at first, I thought, “Wow, that’s really conceited. Why would I be the next Markiplier, Pewdiepie, Jacksepticeye, Jenna Marbles, etc.? What would make my channel so special? Ashley, calm yourself down, deng.”
But that’s not the point. It’s not that I think my channel is anything special. I mean, I enjoy what I talk about and I’m still going to make things for my own reasons, but that’s not the point. It’s scary to think that, if my channel caught on and I did get popular and thousands of people enjoyed my channel that I would no longer be a person.
I would become an image on the screen.
I would be trapped in the box that you can pause and play whenever you want. And it might give you the idea that I exist for you and your entertainment. And that might make some people think that whatever I do should be a reflection of that. I can’t date because, wow, that is so r00d to the dudes and ladies in my fanbase that want some of dis. I can’t make any snide comments because it could be taken out of context and I have to write thirty apologies because I upset someone so much that they relapsed into bad behaviors. I can’t be myself anymore, because now I exist for you.
Except that I don’t.
No one does. Not Jack or his girlfriend, Wiishu, not Mark, not Felix, not Jenna, not any of them. One day, they are all going to stop making YouTube videos and fade out of the limelight. And it is really sad when I realize that they are probably going to enjoy being a memory to people instead of part of a huge family on this amazing platform that gives everyone a voice - and then somehow, has it taken away.
I mean, I could totally be off by everything and I’m just paranoid because bunches of people liking my stuff would mean a crazy commitment and I’m constantly scared of letting people down even though I really want to make a difference and change the world in positive ways.
But…If I feel this way now - with few, but meaningful, subscribers and little to no real damaging impact on my tiny community - how must it feel to be in the millions? That’s scary. Seeing comments and posts and tweets towards certain YouTubers have almost turned me away from my own channel. Almost.
Except that what got me really interested into YouTube in the first place was the family that I saw among the YouTubers. The friends that played games together and the people that made skits and sang together. It reminded me of my high school drama family, and I would love to be a part of it, and to contribute to it. There are a lot more reasons that contributed to my perseverance, but those don’t exactly contribute to the point I’m making.
That point is:
Imagine sitting in your room, on your computer.
Imagine looking at your inbox and seeing over 999+ messages.
Imagine looking at comments on your YouTube channel and being 10 pages away from the first comment 2 minutes after it’s uploaded.
Now imagine that every single one of those people are depending on you.
That’s nuts. While I know most wouldn’t exactly call that a “burden”, it’s got to be damn taxing on the soul. Especially when you’re worried that one of those people might really need you, and you might not get to them in time because, how could you? You couldn’t know. And that’s okay.
Sean McLoughlin is just a guy playing games and making people laugh.
Mark Fischbach is a dude that enjoys goofing off and making people smile.
Jenna Marbles is a a fun loving lady who loves her dogs.
Anthony Padilla likes Pokemon and joking around.
I could go on, but I think it’s getting redundant.
I’m not really sure how to wrap this up in a clear and understandable way, but I’ve seen a lot of weird stuff going on towards these people just because they are popular on YouTube and people seem to forget that, you know, they’re people. Yeah, you enjoy watching them, but gosh dang, they have their own lives. Lives that you don’t need to know about to enjoy their material and lives that may or may not directly involve your influence. And that’s okay! Because you’re still important, and you have a voice, too. Just because that specific person doesn’t hear it doesn’t mean you are any less important and it doesn’t mean that they don’t care. They just…have a lot of people who want to be heard by them specifically.
Gosh, I feel like there’s more I want to say, but I don’t even think this makes much sense. <=/ Sorry about the rant, but, uhm. I guess
Imagine having 35 million people who depend on you everyday.
Now think of your favorite YouTuber and send them some good vibes (even if it’s not by directly messaging them!).
Hey @cheapcookiez! I did a fanart for you! It’s my first digital drawn fanart,and I hope you like it! I really adore your everything,but especially I love your personality and your art,you inspire me so much! I love you so much,and thanks for everything you do.
It is time for a stream!! Twitch.tv/WesTheEditor streaming in my bathrobe for an epically lazy chill #heroesofthestorm stream #bathrobestream going to try and keep raising money for my #wintersoldierwes #childrenshospitalLA charity fundraiser!! Come hang out and good around!!
Finally completed my half of the art trade with the lovely frezziedez (~;U;)~ An ian with a blue background for you sweetie! ;U; and look! he even has flowers for you <3 uwu i hope you like him sweetie!!!! and thanks again for the lovely icons!!! :D
The thing is that Ian is the only fucking person in the entire world who looks sofucking good with a bowl haircut. Like daaamn. Seriously, daaamn. Ian looks so adorable and cute especially when he runs his hand though his hair and fixes it oh mY GOD and it fits him so perfectly like how the hell is it possible to have such a perfect bowl h o w fuck and i just– GOSH sometimes i just pause the video just to stare at his hair i love that bowl bye