Thursday, 16 February 2017

YouTube: Contentless. Soulless.

If you use the internet there is probably no doubt that you use or at some point have used YouTube - it is arguably the biggest employer in the world and has completely changed the way people watch and create. YouTube is no longer the site for cat videos and 3 minute long videos by 20-something year olds in their living rooms. Everyone seems to have a lighting set up, people have ‘offices’ bigger than a lot of peoples own homes just to make a few YouTube videos. It’s a glossy, full-of-promise business with a lot of seemingly squeaky clean professionals in the limelight.

Now I am not old - I’m 18 - but compared to a lot of the viewers and the target audience for these professionals that is 6-8 years older. It also means that I’ve been through my YouTube mad phase, the 2010-2013 period where the front page of YouTube was mainly the VlogBrothers or Alex Day or someone like that. I went to Summer in the City 2013 and stood awkwardly with other teenagers waiting for these idols that we had created for ourselves to emerge from a back room and pose for hundreds of photographs before being hushed away by a group of bodyguards. I ate cold £6 chips whilst waiting for Jason (VeeOneEye), got trampled on by Alfie Deye’s fans and on the train on the way back I listened to Alex Day as I dreamt of being back in the sweaty mess of teenagers.

Today this is my worst nightmare and some of the people I saw that day are a distant memory in terms of their YouTube career. They’ve been through the YouTube mess and have barely made it out on the other side because life has got in the way and either fucked their mental health over or left them without a career and no way of paying the bills. YouTube and the people who regularly interact with it are powerful - it is the most power 13 year old should have, and it is potentially too much. 

Take Alex Day - he was at the height of his game 2013/2014 in terms of YouTube (whether he felt personally that everything was going great is something I will never know and don’t need to know). He had a book deal, singles out and he was back together with his girlfriend, and then the accusations happened. He was accused of everything - rape, sexual assault, cheating etc. and he lost everything for quite a long time. He didn't use his YouTube, he broke up with his girlfriend and he lost his book deal. Now whether or not he did what he was accused of is something that I can not talk about because I do not know. Nothing was ever proven and no charges were ever brought against him. He lost so much over a short period of time because the power of YouTube was used against him.

By ‘the power of YouTube’ I mean the audience, the links with social media, the ease at which a video or a comment can be spread. The wrong thing said at the wrong time will be scrutinised ten times over and, if for whatever reason, you are not the YouTube perfect person it is likely to hurt you at least and in the most extreme cases ruin your life. If Alex Day (for example) applies for a job in the future and his employer Googles him the first thing that comes up is his Wikipedia page and the second section is listed ‘Sexual manipulation allegations’. Is this the best thing to have stuck to you for the rest of your life? Probably not.

Now content creators have to be so careful about what they say and who they interact with - this is their job and if something slips that people disagree with it can be next to impossible to ever rebuild that community and earn the same as they were before. So it became safe. YouTubers began making videos for their audience and not even the majority of their audience but its most active members. These are professionals who need to sell their content as ad revenue is not enough to build a career on - if a YouTuber knows that the vast majority of their audience is 18-25 year olds; however the majority of comments and products sold are to 14 year olds who are they going to aim their videos towards - the people they aren't making any money from or the group that are providing them a big enough income for their flat in London?

This in turn attracts a bigger and even younger audience making it even harder for a YouTuber to create original content that can not offend anyone. If they swear too much then they are in trouble because they have a young audience, if they talk about sex they become the subject to a DaiyMail article because they shouldn’t be taking about a natural thing as a nine year old may get a bit confused. The worst part of all is it only needs to take one person to lie about the YouTuber for their life to come crashing down - if they are telling the truth and charges are brought against that person or there is sufficient evidence then so be it - they shouldn't be in such an influential profession. But if the YouTuber can not defend themselves - no matter if it is a lie or not, the audience and the consumers will always outnumber that person and their online career is pretty much over.

SITC was a disaster in my books - I try to avoid the majority of teenagers who scream and cry and only talk about why they think certain people should get together; however I would say that it was the turning point. Before then YouTube had a limited number of creators and a limited audience - the creators could make content for whom they pleased because sponsorship was only just beginning to emerge and their audience was generally the same age as them. The reason that YouTube is getting so big is killing slowly - in 10 years time a lot of the people that people currently worship will have left either on their own accord or forced out. As every day passes it becomes less content based and more money focused until one day it will literally be like watching 30 minutes of adverts one after another. Contentless. Soulless. 

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Building an Adult: Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll (Part one)


(less of the rock and roll and more about the drugs later). Yes, finally I am talking about the big guns, somethings I should have probably addressed a long time ago but could never be bothered and I didn't know how to tackle this post. Firstly I must warn you that I have a very open attitude about sex so if you feel embarrassed or upset about someone being open then maybe this isn’t the post for you. I am not going to be overly sharing my personal experiences quite yet - maybe some time in the future I will delve deeper into my relationships but I want to ease into this topic as it is quite a big one.

Let us start from the beginning, well I mean when I was 14 and sex and sexuality was what everyone was talking about, and not negatively. Before this age the majority of people in my year in school found it scandalous when someone did anything remotely sexual (but secretly everyone was a bit jealous). At this age I was still in that phase of ‘fight flirting’ where you can only seem to be able to communicate with boys through the means of insults and sulky looks - heaven forbid actually talking to them! 

At this age everyone is trying to figure themselves out: are they gay? straight? bi? confident? No one knows until they push themselves to the limit - which for me often ended with a teary conversation with my best friend in DT. Fast forward a year and everything has changed. People know what they want and they know how they are going to get it. Making out with someone was the norm, sending nudes was a Tuesday night chore and a hand job was a weekly occurrence. What happened over the course of this year was a clash of hormones and bored teenagers. When my friend told me she had given a guy she wasn't dating a hand job in her grans background it filled our conversations for weeks - everyone was fascinated with it. What was it like? Do you think you’ll have sex? Did he return the favour? And so on. Sexuality was no longer and insult but a badge to wear (if you wanted to).

I wasn’t a very confident person when it came to boys - I was interested in sex and them but I didn't know how to present myself in an appealing way. I wasn't confident enough in my own skin and didn't think anyone would ever find me attractive. But I was good on Facebook. Hours spent typing away to one boy in particular, sharing emotions, dreams but never my true feelings. When you’re 15 you can be blinded by your first ‘romance’ - regardless of how unhealthy it was I kept going back for more. 

A very close friend lost his virginity whilst I was still flirting with a computer screen. I was jealous (even though it was far from being a perfect story) and we sat there together in our local Costa begging him to tell us every single detail (which he did). This was the start of my friends sex life - we had WhatsApp groups dedicated to every graphic detail and regular Costa sessions where photos were shared over an Americano or two.

I always felt left out. I spent years wondering why I couldn't approach boys at parties and why was I so reluctant to meet up with people. I guess I didn’t want to break the idea that I had of them - it could arguably be better than reality. I wasn't until I was 17 that I had my first kiss, and 17 when I began to realise that I could be desired. Being in a relationship with the person has not really mattered to me - as long as I know them why should I wait to be romantically involved to have some fun? 

In 2016 teenagers and young adults are seen as people who only ‘hook up’. We are seen as people who are unable to have a relationship and only want sex but I do not think that is true. Societies goals are now different. The majority of women do not strive to get married young and have children by the time that they are 21, instead they want a degree, a high achieving job. They want to be the best and this may come at the cost of a proper relationship. People do not have time to slowly get to know people - it is why so many people are using Tinder where the best parts of persons personality are laid out in a couple of sentences. Love is swiped away in seconds because no one has time to find out more. 

Not that that is a bad thing. I know lots of people who are in relationships and it isn’t holding them back from achieving anything. I also know people who aren’t and are achieving their goals whilst having casual sex on the side. What separates the two? Probably what they’re into and what their favourite food item is but other than that nothing. If you want to hook up with ten people tonight then do it! If you are in a steady relationship and you are going to have very average sex tonight, then do it! If you are in a long term relationship but are saving your self for marriage and are going to enjoy each others company with wine and a film then do it! Enjoy yourselves, regardless of what you’re doing - just make sure to tell me over a Costa. I’ll pay.