4 June 2014

The Danger Of YouTube Culture: Losing An Idol

The first post in a series about YouTube culture.


It's no secret that I am a YouTube fan. I've been watching YouTube videos daily since 2009, starting off with Bubzbeauty, before finding the likes of Charlie McDonnell, Alex Day, Phil Lester, Dan Howell and Tom Milsom. Now, I'm subscribed to around 80 channels and last year, I was subscribed to almost 300. I watch a lot of YouTube and I love it. Over the years, I've been inspired by different YouTubers and, unintentionally, I started idolising a few of them. Since the start of 2014 I've been making quite drastic changes to my YouTube habits by clearing out my subscriptions almost weekly, watching way less every day and thinking about everything a bit more. This was partly sparked off by something that happened in March and partly sparked off by just the general realisation that I was becoming quite dependent on YouTube. I'll talk about the changes I made and the reasons behind them in future posts but right now, I want to talk about how I lost two of my idols and heroes in the space of a few hours. 

As someone who has always loved music, I really admire and look up to certain musicians, whether they started on YouTube or not. Two of the YouTube-based musicians that I looked up to the most for about 3 or 4 years were Alex Day and Tom Milsom. If you've read my blog for a while, this won't be a surprise... I've watched their videos, supported their careers and enjoyed their music for at least 4 years and in April 2012, I met Alex Day at his Lady Godiva signing in Edinburgh. I said it was the best day of my life (post here), I cried when my sister told me we were going, and I was unbelievably happy for days after. I've bought Tom and Alex's music and merch and I've stuck up for them when people spoke against them. They were my idols so after hearing what's been going on all this time, I essentially lost two heroes. (*TRIGGER WARNING*) I'm not going to go into detail or anything but basically, both Tom and Alex (as well as quite a few other male YouTubers) were revealed to have been manipulative and sexually abusive, on many occasions, over the years. If you want to know the full story and read into it a bit more, I'd recommend this article and this tumblr post, which lists all of the other posts relating to it. 

Needless to say, Tom Milsom and Alex Day were no longer my idols. It suddenly hit me how dangerous YouTube (and the rest of the internet) can be: online personalities and content creators are 100% in control of how they are portrayed. They make all of the decisions regarding how the video looks. They set up the lighting, they do their hair, they choose their outfit, they arrange their background. During filming, they usually write a script, they decide what to say, how to say it, what facial expressions to use and how to deliver every line. After filming, they can cut out what they want and edit it to portray themselves exactly the way they want to. They are in charge of how they come across and can manipulate their image. You might think that your favourite YouTubers are being completely genuine, authentic and honest (and in many cases, this is quite accurate) but you have to remember that they are building an online image and you're never hearing the full story. Tom Milsom and Alex Day are prime examples of this: their videos made everyone think that they were good people when clearly, they're not. Again, I'm no expert so I'll direct you towards a few of my favourite videos about this issue: this one by neafcy, and this one by Anthony D'Angelo. I'd highly recommend watching them.

Losing two idols in the space of a few hours really really hurt. It sounds kinda stupid but I felt so betrayed and let down, like they had been lying to me personally for all these years. It was a harsh reality check and made me realise that you never know your favourite YouTubers. As blunt as this may be, they're not your friends and they don't owe you anything. It feels honest and intimate because they're talking to you, straight down a camera, from their bedrooms but, in reality, it's just a stranger talking to a camera and you happen to be watching the results. By all means, keep watching and enjoying YouTube videos - they're amazing things and many show so much talent and creativity - I just hope that you keep in mind that YouTubers are manipulating their image and occasionally, it can be dangerous. 

Lots of love, Cat
xxx
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14 comments

  1. Oh, wow. I love YouTube as well, and thankfully I haven't had an experience like that yet with YouTube, but some of my favorite singers/bands can often turn disappointing because of something dumb they do or say, so I kinda know how you feel. Thanks for sharing though! I knew that YouTubers wrote a script.... That's super weird, haha.

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    1. I've always found the script-writing a little bit weird...it makes it seem a lot less natural. Saying that, I do understand why a lot of YouTubers use scripts.
      I hope you enjoyed the post! I've been really nervous about posting it. :3 xx

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    2. Oops, I meant to say "I never knew" whoops! Ha. It can be really hard to tell that they're not using scripts aha.

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  2. I felt the exact same. I have loved Alex Day for years upon years. It pains me now when his music comes up on shuffle. I actually feel personally betrayed that I felt so connected to him and he decided to act like that, and now he has basically dropped off of the universe.. I can't lie and say I don't miss him. But it will never be the same.

    lizwills.blogspot.com

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    1. I feel the exact same way. He literally vanished completely after writing a few half-arsed tumblr posts, trying to justify what he did. I kinda wonder if he'll ever come back (and the same goes for Tom Milsom who deleted his twitter and hasn't addressed it at all). I deleted all of their music from my iTunes and I'm getting rid of their merch. I wish I could say I didn't miss them but I do...they were both such a huge part of my life. xx

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  3. This makes me really sad and angry as I loved these Youtubers for so long :( I knew a bit about this but not how bad it actually was (thank you for the links :D) and I think it's disgusting and it' makes me feel betrayed as well. I do miss the people I knew on camera but knowing now that's not who they really are, I don't think I can ever look at them the same :( Thankyou for writing this post, I've been thinking about this for a few weeks now and I'm so glad someone in this corner of the blogosphere has spoken out about it :) Sending virtual hugs xoxo

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    1. Thank you so much for your comment - it made my day. ^_^ I was really nervous about posting this so I'm happy it's going down so well! xx

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  4. I've only ever watched a few of Alex Day's videos, I'd heard you mention him in posts and heard Carrie Hope Fletcher talk about him so I wanted to see what the fuss was about - and I'm not going to lie, I really didn't like his videos. If you hadn't said about Alex Day in this post I wouldn't have known that. It's disgusting that people abuse the fact that a lot of people have respect for them to get away with things. I don't really idolise YouTubers but I do idolise my favourite actors like Emma Watson and Rupert Grint and I know I'd personally feel hurt if anything horrific was revealed about them, although it doesn't have anything to do with me, as someone who thinks the world of these people I know that it would hurt me more than I'd like to think about.
    Really, really great post xx

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    1. Alex Day's videos definitely aren't for everyone and I can see why.
      I'm so happy you enjoyed this post and thanks for sharing it on twitter! ^_^ xx

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  5. Wow. This is a super interesting post! I guess we all need to have a critical eye... and remember that things may not always be what they seem.

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    1. That's exactly the message I was trying to get across - I'm so happy you agree! Thanks for commenting. :D xx

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  6. I never watched Alex Day but I do feel your pain, that's awful. I do agree that you can lose an idol just like that and nothing hurts more. Even though I love watching youtube videos I do agree that some youtubers aren't natural and that's is an act. I just don't understand it.

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    1. I guess it was my own fault for putting Tom and Alex on a bit of a pedestal but it really did suck. :/ I find it hard to watch a YouTube video without being super critical of it now. xx

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