Friday, March 10, 2017

Let's Talk: YouTubers in the Media

I remember when I first majorly started to love YouTube. The people I watched, made videos of their passions because they really enjoyed it, not because it would make them a lot of money or help them become a celebrity. Because of this, it made it feel like they were more like online friends, than someone completely above you. I also remember how happy/excited/proud I felt, when my favourite YouTubers at the time, first made it into the mainstream media outlets, because it just wasn't a thing that really happened back then, but fast forward 7 years and it's now a thing of the norm, but maybe not always as positive as it initially was.
The Guardian recently made the ridiculous claim that Zoe Sugg aka Zoella is to blame for the decline in teenage literacy. Even though, I don't find Zoe's books to be my cup of tea personally, to try and use her as a scapegoat and blame her for the decline in teenage literacy for the whole of the UK, is just absurd. In my opinion, I don't think schools actually do enough to encourage and inspire young adults to read. I know my school never did and it wasn't until I left school, that I majorly started to read lots of books because I actually enjoyed it, not because I had to. This is not the first time that mainstream media have made ridiculous, negative claims about YouTubers, and it most definitely won't be the last. However, this article provoked a huge online reaction from viewers and online creators, and also led to Dodie making a video in response to the constant ridicule, that YouTubers receive from the media. At the end of the video, she suggested that people should make video responses with their thoughts and feelings on the subject and as YouTube isn't my forte, I thought I'd write a post instead.

I really enjoyed Dodie's video and I feel like she made some excellent points. YouTube videos have changed people's lives for the better. In the video, she talks about how people that suffer from issues such as acne have learnt to love and accept themselves because of YouTubers such as Melanie Murphy and Zoella, how people are now experimenting with stop motion and lighting techniques after watching the likes of Kick The Pj and lastly, not forgetting the likes of Shane Dawson, Ingrid Nelson and Kingsley that help LGBTQ+ individuals know that they are not alone and help them to understand that there is a world out there, that will accept them for who they are.

All these examples really made me appreciate YouTube for what it does and how it helps and impacts people's lives. Then, I thought about which videos have helped me. All of those videos I watched to help me realise what an abusive relationship is, realising what consent is and knowing that I CAN say no. I also remember when I first starting struggling severely with anxiety and I watched a video Zoella had made regarding her experience and after, I just sobbed and sobbed, because for the first time, I didn't feel so alone. Thank god a platform like this exists!

However, as Dodie is a YouTuber herself, I feel like her thoughts and views are slightly somewhat biased. Yes, I totally agree that countless media outlets constantly take something completely positive and turn it into something very sad and negative, but I think we also need to remember that mainstream media have ALWAYS done this. Think of any celebrity, big or small. At some point, I bet there has been an untruthful, negative article written about them. Every week, gossip magazines are printed. How many of those articles are completely factual? Very little, I'd say. But I think, when something negative is printed about a YouTuber, everyone takes it very personally, like it's an attack on all YouTubers, but this is not the case. I think there comes a point, when the line between YouTuber and celebrity becomes incredibly blurred and with that fame, comes good attention and bad. It's just the reality of it. For a long time, the mainstream media were painted to be very dim when it came to YouTubers and their outreach, but I don't think this is the case anymore. They understand that these creators have a lot of viewers and a lot of fans, so they know using their name will improve their readership, which it always does.

Ultimately, I think it's very easy for everyone that supports YouTubers, whether you are a viewer or an online creator yourself, to get angry at negative attention like this, but this is exactly why they write things like this and why they will continue to write things like this in the future, for those clicks. 

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