If you haven't yet seen the latest episode of Becoming YouTube I suggest you watch it before reading this because otherwise it might not make much sense. Also, this is a bit of a long post so you might want to go grab yourself a cup of tea or something before you sit down to read it (please do still read it though, I'd love to hear what your opinion is). Right, got your tea? Here we go...
I've just finished watching the latest episode of Becoming YouTube, the series created by Ben Cook that follows some of the popular (British with the exception of Hank Green) YouTubers and it has really left me thinking.
Yes, they did make light of a very serious situation by making the last section of the video into a musical but I think Ben's monologue (rant) in the middle of the video is really the main focus and we all need to really think about what he said. Although I would consider myself a viewer of a lot of YouTubers, possibly even a fan depending on the way you look at it, I've never been the type of person to send gifts via P O Box or to have 'fandom' tumblr or twitter acounts. Personally, especially in the case of YouTubers who are mainly just people who occasionally film a few minutes of their lives and upload them to a website, I've always found that to be an invasion of privacy, like crossing some sort of invisible line between enjoying what they do and appreciating their hard work and creativity and entering their 'personal space'. If they wanted you to know something about their lives, they would share it with you via one of their many social media platforms.
Now having said this, I would be lying if I said there wasn't a part of me that likes to speculate over who's dating who or who's really friends outside the realm of the internet but I remind myself of what I said before in situations like this. If they wanted us to know, they'd tell us. It's not our place, as viewers to demand information from them about their personal lives and they shouldn't have to tell us every tiny little detail about them. That's when it goes from being a perfectly harmless appreciation to getting, well, a little bit weird.
One of the main things that had me thinking after watching the video is what Ben says about people sending things to YouTubers. In the video Ben says...
'Most of you would prefer to send presents to your favourite YouTubers than you would to your own family, or, heaven forbid, someone, somewhere in the world, who actually needs aid. Syrian refugee crisis? Yeah, well, why bother? Send food packages to pointlessblogtv instead.'
The scary thing is, it's true. Think of all the time, effort and money people spend sending things to their favourite YouTubers or tweeting them or trying to get their attention for that longed for acknowledgement that they deserve so much more than everyone else because they've been around since the dawn of time (or 2007 as most people call it). I've honestly never thought about this myself until Ben brought it up in the video but once you notice it, you realise just how awful it is. How can people justify spending money sending things to YouTubers when they then claim they haven't got the money to spare to give to charity. What if, instead of spending time watching videos and leaving thousands of comments about how amazing their hair looked people watched the video and then did something more productive with their time like volunteering or even just doing something they love to do and could help their future (for me, this would mean spending more time writing songs or practicing guitar or something similar). What if the monetary value of paper, envelopes, postage and anything else that is put in the contents of the package was given to charity instead of using it to send things.
Like a few of the interviewees say at the beginning of the video, YouTube has the power to change the world mainly because of the sheer number of people that it reaches. Think how easily videos go viral these days thanks to Facebook getting in on the action and people sharing videos on there too. Think what a drastic change could be made if the content creators managed to find something they all collectively care about strongly enough and we, as viewers, took on board every single word they said.
I really think that this video of Ben's will make a big change to the YouTube 'world', at least I hope it does. I hope that people think about what they're planning on sending to their favourite YouTubers and think of someone more deserving of their money like the people who care for them or people who actually need aid. I hope people think about the personal boundaries that have been set by the people they're watching and respect them before deciding to 'ship' people to the extreme, past the point of it being harmless until it just makes people feel uncomfortable. I hope people think about the content they're watching and actually listen to what people are saying rather than just choosing to watch because, as Ben puts it, they want to see a 'British boy with a fringe'.
I realise that some of the things I've mentioned here may be hypocritical of me, it would be stupid to think I have never done any of the things I've listed, but what is important is that I've listened to what Ben said and I've taken it on board and it's changed my outlook on things. I feel as if, for me at least, something to do with my perspective on content creators has shifted.
This episode of Becoming YouTube has really put a lot of things into perspective in my opinion and although I could probably go on for a lot longer about the various bits and pieces I picked up on, these were the main points that made me stop and think.
What did you think of the episode? Do you agree that we should think carefully about how we're spending our time and money when it comes to sending things to content creators? Do you think if you want to ask repeatedly whether two people are dating that's okay? I'd really love to hear what you've got to say on this one so please don't hesitate to leave a comment or to start a conversation in the comments!