WAY back on my old blog (RIP), I posted about the negative impacts of mainstream YouTubers on society/people/mostly younger audiences. Two and a half years on and here I am, still voicing the same opinion only on a different blog. I’ve been debating on whether to repost something like this for a while now. I know I’m not the only one with these thoughts but NOBODY else is saying what needs to be said – popular YouTubers are damaging.
When I shared my post about my problems concerning YouTubers, I received nothing but sheer hate from copious amounts of ‘Zalfie’ and whoever the f*ck else fans but I still feel so unbelievably disinclined to support the majority of these internet ‘sensations’.
My first major gripe is that it all seems very forced (for lack of a better word). The majority of the time, I feel like the content is over-done and lacking any originality. If I’ve seen one ‘boyfriend does my make up’ video, I’ve seen 50 that are the exact same. I get the feeling a lot of big name YouTubers are putting up a video for the sake of it because it is guaranteed to get views. And nowadays, views = money.
I am subscribed to so many smaller YouTubers who are so passionate about their content creation and I am able to actually connect with them. I believe there is a whole lot more transparency with smaller creators, a degree of honesty – I want to engage with them. Bigger YouTubers? quite the opposite. I feel like a lot of them are hidden behind false personas and create their videos in a way that they will appear as marketable as humanly possible. They say they care about their fans but they only care because their fans fund their blatantly extravagant lifestyles.
Years ago, YouTube used to be somewhere I’d go and watch utterly pointless videos like ‘charlie bit my finger’ and ‘don’t hug me I’m scared’ (why was that EVER allowed to be published on the internet??) or band interview upon band interview during my bizarre 15 year old ’emo stage’. Now I can’t even go on the site without being overwhelmed by Zoella this, Zoella that. I fully understand that YouTube is a ‘full time job’ for some creators, and that’s pretty cool. Isn’t that the ideal job for just about everyone? Being creative, working from home, hanging out with friends who have similar ‘interests’ while working, travelling the world with no expense spared, catered business lunches and meetings, free products, constant brand endorsements and £50,000+ earnings a month…
I cannot venture into Superdrug now without a spotting a congregation of ‘tweens’ awkwardly lurking around Zoella’s beauty line, discussing what they already have and haven’t got and what they’re going to ask for for Christmas. I can’t walk past the windows of Waterstones without seeing YouTube books positioned front and centre. You can’t go into WH Smith to browse for magazines without spotting about four different magazines featuring YouTubers on the front cover. Why? Because YouTubers have ‘it’ and ‘it’ sells. I don’t know what ‘it’ is but apparently there’s a market out there for it.
The fact of the matter is that some of the viewers of these ‘personalities’ are as young as 6 & 7 years old. Minds that are undeniably impressionable and naive and this is where the problems start to occur. Kids don’t understand the politics of paid content videos. They don’t know about PR or product placement or the power of advertising, they’re lead to believe that these people go out and buy all of these products, regardless of whether it is stated in the description box or a faint ‘AD’ text is in the top corner of the video. This is where YouTubers become damaging.
You may or may not have noticed that YouTubers create constant want. I notice this particularly with beauty YouTubers. I’m not saying I didn’t throw an occasional tantrum when I was told I couldn’t get what I wanted. The difference is, when I was 8, I wanted a £15 Bratz doll, not a £42 Urban Decay Palette. Kids want whatever products YouTubers wave in their faces because it’s deemed ‘cool’ to own whatever they own. There’s a whole lot of YouTubers who could shit on a stick and convince thousands of people to buy it. Manipulation is a crazy thing.
Kids and teenagers instantly believe that what the Youtubers are saying is the be all and end all and 100% honest. No matter how many times they have a disclaimer in the downbar or how many times they take a few minutes at the start of their video to make it clear that they ‘would not tell you it was good if it wasn’t’ – it doesn’t mean they aren’t lying. Kids don’t pick up on false personalities and lies as well as those who are clued up. If you were being paid thousands upon thousands of pounds to feature a specific product in your video, you’re hardly going to turn around and say it’s awful, right? I remember stumbling across Gabbie (velvetgh0st) when her channel sort of ‘blew up” and I clicked through a few of her videos to see what she was like. I specifically remember her doing a sponsored post for Batiste dry shampoo maybe around 2 years back. Then, in a vlog of hers, she more or less said she ‘doesn’t like dry shampoo’. Do you see what I’m getting at here? Money talks.
I’m not exactly a marketing bigwig but I have studied business management since the age of 12. I’m now at university studying a business based fashion degree whereby I study marketing, people management, consumer behaviour and PR. I know about promotion techniques and how companies ago about contacting ‘personalities’. I have previously been contacted when writing for my old blog and I can tell you now that it isn’t always fun and games. There are people my age and older don’t have a clue about these aspects of YouTube, so how can you expect extremely young viewers to know about it?
Popular YouTubers are not exactly struggling for money thanks to all the viewers and the paid content, ADs and whatever else. All moving house (it seems to Brighton or London), constantly filming hauls, all shopping at Waitrose, all on holiday what seems like every second week, flying all over the world to participate in events, writing books and plastering their names on products. I do understand that creators do make a difference to people. For some, a ten minute video from their favourite channel can really brighten their day. It is clear to see that these people are a source of happiness for some viewers but I do think it’s a great shame that there are viewers who do not understand that these creators are not always looking at what they do from a crowd-pleasing angle, no matter how much they protest they are. They’re looking at the situation and thinking ‘this is going to make me financially comfortable’.
I am by no means slating what they do, I find myself stumbling on one or two of their videos once in a blue moon thanks to YouTube’s “next up” feature. If anything, they are super savvy business men and women and they know how to make their money. Personally, I don’t see the extreme appeal that others do. Maybe this is because I am a miserable 20 year old who refuses to see the good in this online phenomenon because I’m aware of the BTS operations (a very plausible theory). Maybe when you’re not so naive, they don’t want to cater their content towards you because they know you won’t click their affiliate links. Maybe watching fake personalities in forced videos isn’t for everyone or maybe I’m just missing the whole point – who can say? I’m almost kind of glad that I grew up as a teenager before these content creators became THE thing. I kind of hope it’s one of these online phases that won’t last. It all seems kind of weird to me.