Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Another 'YouTube Culture' chat

YouTube scares me. YouTube scares a lot of people. Not in a ‘OH MY GOD I’M GONNA DIE!’ sort of way, but in a ’30,000 is a HELL-OF-A-LOT of people’ sort of way. First off, I’m so grateful for all of you wonderful people that are subscribed to us on YouTube and, secondly…. well, there is no secondly, I just really like lists (because lists are cool.)

Already you probably think ‘this is a very misleading title that he’s probably used to get views,’ and I’m telling you that you couldn’t be more right. YouTube, the website itself, doesn’t scare me and, in fact, I don’t think I’m really ‘scared’ of anything. I’m just thinking, thinking and writing it down for you to read because YOLO (used ironically, I promise.) I’ve been to several gatherings and events that are engineered to help you guys meet all of your favourite YouTubers, even to meet us. For lack of a better alternative, a lot of these gatherings involve a lot of queuing, a lot of waiting, a lot of complaining, and a lot of disappointment…; I think it might be broken.

By ‘it’ I mean YouTube culture. I know, I know. Loads of YouTubers have already spoken and written about it, most notably the super-swell Zoe and lovely Louise, but what about us guys that are watching it happen? You’ve all seen the ‘fangirl swarm’ (although I do think ‘fangirl’ is a bit of an unfair, sexist title (king fanboy here)) but why has it gotten to this stage? We’ve all loved-the-living-daylights out of a celebrity before (Ellie Goulding (man crush = Dan from Bastille), but YouTubers are not celebrities, are they? 

I was lucky enough to attend the UK’s first DigiFest back in May, and it was eye-opening. Sure, I’ve had the opportunity to meet lots of you before, to have a chat and talk about videos and YouTube, but I’ve never experienced something quite like DigiTour. Myself, Niki and Cherry Wallis went on stage in front of 5,000 people. That’s 5,000 pairs of eyes staring at our faces, expecting us to be ‘something’ - and it’s this ‘something’ that’s subject to debate. Prior to heading on stage we’d prepared some gags, a few jokes, a couple of one-liners, but that’s not what the audience wanted. You wanted YouTube; it all started to feel very real to me. The videos we create mattered in the real world. I had a terrible bubbly feeling in my stomach and a lump in my throat... I was petrified! I’d gone from sitting on my bed making videos, to standing on the Eventim Apollo stage (baptism by fire?!)

This is not me complaining about anything I’ve been so lucky to be involved with; I’m very grateful! But where does this leave us YouTubers? We were made to feel that ‘this is totes normal’ and that 'this is the future', but what were we leaving behind? My favourite experience was my first visit to Summer in The City last year. We had around 1,800 subscribers which meant that more-or-less we could walk around willy-nilly, chatting with everyone and anyone; it was the best time ever!

This is the beauty of a YouTube star. 99% of the ‘real-world’ (that’s people whom have ‘proper jobs’ and go to ‘work’ and don’t ‘sit inside on their computer all day’ (weird)) haven't the faintest idea who these online creators are. I suppose even using the term ‘YouTube star’ already promotes some-sort of hierarchy, and that’s what got us into this situation in the first place. But how can it be avoided? I don’t think it can (atleast, swelling subscriber numbers make it more and more difficult) but perhaps attitudes can change? If this is the future of YouTube, then how can we change our attitudes as viewers to adapt?

The way things are at the moment means that meet and greets are hectic, chats are short, and stress-levels are through the roof, and that's the only way they can be (unless we can come up with an alternative (please discuss below!)) It's not very human, it's not a very natural way for us to meet you, and vice versa. My favourite thing is when I bump into someone in London, or whenever I'm out and about, and we just chat for 5 or 10 minutes about YouTube. I learn something about you, you learn something about me and, more importantly, there's no one there placing a time restriction on us. This is why YouTube meet and greets and signings are just broken. Can we do them differently?

I guess this was just me unloading some more 'YouTube culture' baggage that I've been carrying about with me since DigiTour, and heading to Harrison Web's gathering in London the other week. When I heard that other YouTubers got 'overwhelmed' when meeting viewers, I didn't quite believe it, but now I do. I got very anxious at my last gathering (that's no ones fault other than my own) to the point that I wasn't really myself around you guys, and I don't want that to happen again! You've come all that way to chat and talk with me; I don't want to let you down! I really want to hear more from you guys and what you think (if you made it this far without getting too bored!) Don't forget to stalk me on twitter, too!

Thanks guys, chat soon!