The Lonely Life of a Professional YouTuber

Excerpt from this article:

Above the desk in Will’s bedroom in London there is a whiteboard listing all of the ambitions he had for 2017, with a huge black tick pasted across it. He wanted to get verified on Twitter (he still isn’t), he wanted to begin an intensive daily gym workout routine (he didn’t). But right at the top of the list, written in red marker pen, is “1 million subscribers”.

He spent every waking hour trying to make it happen, working 16-hour days in a state of miserable obsession. He achieved it just after 1.30AM on the 22nd of December, 2017, and tweeted: “WE DID IT! From the bottom of my heart – thank you. Never wanted something as much as I wanted this. Love the lot of you to fkn bits,” followed by a heart emoji. But the feeling disappeared within minutes. Then he re-opened Adobe Premiere Pro and got back to work. He had another video to upload in 48 hours, and it was already making him anxious.

He’s never really stopped since. He was up until 4.30AM this morning working on a video, and then he got up at 8AM to work some more before I arrived. He has bags under his eyes. His sleeping patterns blur. He pulls all-nighters to finish videos, and doesn’t really know how much it has affected him until he’s lying awake at 5.30AM two days later. In the winter, there were days when he only saw two hours of daylight. His flatmate is away a lot, and the most face-to-face contact he has during the week is with the woman who works in the coffee shop downstairs.

“Is that a joke, though?” I laugh. I want to give him the opportunity to tell me that was an exaggeration.

“No, I’m deadly serious. I’d consider her one of my better mates,” says Will.


Logan Paul controversy highlights the carelessness of online celebrity in the YouTube era

Excerpt from this article:

On the last day of 2017, YouTube star Logan Paul posted a video of a dead body in Aokigahara, more commonly known as Japan’s “suicide forest.” The vlog followed Paul and his friends as they encountered the body of a man who, like hundreds of others, had taken his own life in the popular tourist destination. In between Paul’s comments about the seriousness of suicide, the camera zooms in on various parts of the body, while Paul occasionally cracks jokes or laughs. “I think this definitely marks a moment in YouTube history,” Paul said in the original video — a statement that proved true, though likely not in the way he had imagined.

The backlash to the video has been swift, with media outlets, celebrities, and other YouTubers fiercely criticizing the decision to upload the video. Paul has since taken down the vlog, and issued an apology statement and video in response to the criticism.

Unlike Hollywood celebs, who typically have PR firms to help them navigate their interactions with the public, or journalists, who (ideally) have well-established editorial and ethical guidelines, the appeal of many YouTubers lies in their perceived authenticity and off-the-cuff reactions. When your brand is built on boundary-pushing stunts and a rapid (even daily) production cycle with little oversight, it’s easy for good judgment to fall by the wayside.

With Hair Bows and Chores, YouTube Youth Take On Mean Girls

Excerpt from this article:

Thirteen-year-old girls aren’t generally known for their oversize bows these days, but JoJo isn’t your typical teenager. She just signed a multiplatform deal with Nickelodeon, which includes consumer products, original programming, social media, live events and music.

Shauna Pomerantz, a sociology professor at Brock University in Ontario and an author of “Smart Girls: Success, School and the Myth of Post-Feminism,” said school administrators had historically policed girls for wearing skirts that were too short or having exposed bra straps, not for an accessory reminiscent of the 1950s. “JoJo stands for being nice,” she said. “And the bow is a representation of JoJo. Ultimately the goal of that video is to suggest that meanness isn’t cool, and niceness is cool.”

In a world where parents of children ages 8 to 14 have long been concerned about hypersexualized clothing, early puberty and overly sophisticated media messages, JoJo is part of a growing group of girls documenting routine, age-appropriate behaviors and activities such as being nice, doing their chores, divulging what’s in their backpacks, making dresses out of garbage bags and working to pay for their own clothes.

Step Inside the YouTube-Fueled, Teenaged Extravaganza That Is Beautycon


Excerpt from this article:

YouTube creator meetups are scheduled in hour-long blocks throughout the day. Tana is one of the few with two solo meetups, and the line for her first is overflowing its corral. A girl holds a glue-sticked poster: Your superhero wears a cape, mine wears mac honey love lipstick.

Taylor is close to the front, feet from the chair where Tana will sit. As we wait, she shows me a framed poem she wrote—entitled “An Influence”—that includes sweet (if dystopian) couplets like: “An environment which provides a positive escape / Through a false world that reality shaped.” The poem is signed, “God Bless, Taylor.”

The online beauty scene, for Taylor, is less about the makeup than following creators as one might General Hospital. Perhaps this is why she loves Tana Mongeau. Tana doesn’t claim any beauty expertise (and sometimes she actively rejects it). Her videos take the form of ebullient monologues, looping from silly into serious back to crass. Taylor calls Tana a storytime YouTuber. She communicates with fans like they’re up late at a sleepover, giddy from sugar, swapping racy stories…

“She’s created such a positive environment on the internet,” Taylor tells me. “To the point where the amount of interaction with her following has really made it feel like more of a family.”

The strange case of Marina Joyce and internet hysteria

Fans became concerned when they perceived Marina Joyce’s persona to have altered
Excerpt from this article (and if you’d like a podcast version, check out this episode of Reply All; and UPDATE, also check out “How It Feels to be at the Centre of an Internet Kidnapping Conspiracy”):

For weeks, fans had been worrying about Marina Joyce. The 19-year-old beauty-YouTuber didn’t seem herself. Her once upbeat and quirky personality had shifted dramatically: her videos were filled with silent stares and shifty off-camera glances. On 8 July, viewers noticed a gun in the background of her latest make-up tutorial. They began talking about how she appeared frightened and distressed.

…It took four days for the wider internet to fall into a frenzy. After a fan compiled a list of their concerns on – a site dedicated to sharing blocks of text easily – the hashtag #SaveMarinaJoyce became the number one trending topic worldwide. When Marina then tried to arrange a 6:30am meet up with her fans, some speculated she was involved in a trap set by Isis. Thousands of teenagers revealed that they couldn’t sleep and were shaking from their belief that Marina had been kidnapped or was being held hostage. More than 60 people tweeted that it had caused them to have an anxiety or panic attack. The mood was one of hysteria.

…But the problem is, there was no scary figure. There was no kidnapping. No abuse. The fears were all baseless. After “numerous” calls, the Enfield police department visited Marina in the early hours of 27 July and tweeted at 4:34AM that she was safe. Marina herself also tweeted that she was “TOTALLY fine”.

We Saw What You Did There, iJustine

Excerpt from this article:

Justine Ezarik, known to millions of her fans as iJustine, was one of YouTube’s earliest stars. Before Jenna Marbles, Epic Meal Time and PewDiePie began posting videos, Ms. Ezarik was busy building a brand as the attractive girl-next-door who could also beat all the boys in “Call of Duty.”

…With the field of YouTube celebrities growing more crowded, it’s worth asking: What can we learn from a person who has spent the past decade streaming her life, acting as her own boss and weathering the changing landscape of social media?