If there’s anything YouTubers are good at talking about it kind of has to be YouTube, doesn’t it?
In the grand scheme of things YouTube is still very young, and there were always bound to be growing pains for the platform as it developed into a massive international community in only ten years (it really is like it’s hitting puberty). From understanding the divide between creator and audience, questioning the ethics of brand deals, and realising the pressure of maintaining a YouTube persona, to the more recent conversations about quality content versus popular content, creators continue to highlight the importance of talking about their platform and the virtual ecosystem it has created.
In our feature How To Make YouTube Engaging Again, TenEighty explored some of the latest issues being discussed in the community, but why stop there when there’s such a wealth of thought-provoking content that has been created this year? So here is Five of the Best: Videos About YouTube Culture in 2016.
RE: Ramble About YouTube – Francesca Georgiou
Jack Howard‘s video Ramble About YouTube elicited a big reaction from the community, including this fantastic video response from Francesca Georgiou (Wait, video response? Call back to 2010?!). We love this video for its eloquence in presenting the complexities that are at play.
Francesca touches upon the unique difficulties facing female creators, how YouTube’s algorithms tend to hurt smaller YouTubers and how this can leave smaller creators feeling conflicted about their place on the platform.
Tying the whole conversation together, Francesca’s video brings us back to a broader conversation about YouTube culture. Besides the idea that fostering community feels secondary to YouTube today, what are the broader implications of removing the “All Activity” tab? How will this change the way the community moves forward over the next few years?
We’re already seeing blogs and playlists devoted to more community and small content creator support, hopefully this will mark a new era of creative content for us to all adore!
Turning Fans Into Customers | Space Camp Day 14 – Rosianna Halse Rojas
We can always count on Rosianna Halse Rojas to create amazingly articulate, thoughtful content. Back in 2007, when the YouTube community first coming together, the idea of brand deals and a YouTube career didn’t even exist. But as audiences grew, as well as the potential to market to those audiences, so did the ethical questions about sponsored content.
Describing the contrast between what it means to be a fan and what it means to be a customer, Rosianna emphasises an important point about identifying with media and YouTube as a fan versus purchasing an item as a consumer. The video mentions the idea that we don’t buy Zoella’s bath bombs because we want to be consumers, but that we buy her adorable makeup bags because we identify with being a part of her fandom. And we like being part of her fandom damn it!
This video speaks to a recent tension arising from creators taking brand deals and fans feeling disconnected when the question of profit comes into content. Because YouTube is such a personal, intimate experience, it’s understandable that viewers feel devalued when they are viewed more as potential customers than friends. Then again, do we have a right to feel uncomfortable when creators want to be paid for their work? So may questions, Rosianna! We’re having too many thoughts about it all!
Being a Smaller YouTuber | The NewTube Order #5 – neafcy
Delving into the relationship between mainstream media and YouTube, Paul Neafcy sheds some much needed light on the way mainstream media has influenced YouTube’s evolution. We have to appreciate Neacy’s point that because mainstream media views the community as an easy, lucrative job it has trivialised what it means to create content and establish an audience. This view of the community has also changed the intention behind videos. More specifically, if people come to YouTube looking to make it a job, or have made it a job, content creators may take less risks with their output to ensure they keep their viewers.
Neafcy also takes on the current YouTube hierarchy between smaller creators and those who have higher sub counts. In a community that started as an equal opportunities space for video creators, has become difficult for smaller YouTuber to not only feel wanted on YouTube, but to feel equal to their fellow creators.
The Age of Apology – a monologue – Daniel J. Layton
Another response to Jack’s video, we have to love Daniel J. Layton for this creative monologue about YouTube culture. Beneath a perfect combination of swearing and frustration, Daniel highlights YouTubers’ recent inclination to share, well, everything, leaving us to realise that we may have unintentionally asked to see every part of our favorite content creator’s day.
Looking at YouTube as this new, creative, accessible place for entertainment lets us interact with and relate to creators on a much more personal level. There’s no Hollywood mystique to YouTube; we feel as though we are friends with our favourite YouTubers. What better way to feel like you’re best friends with someone than for them to invite you to a slumber party or to bake cookies or take their dog to the vet?
But like the rest of our list Daniel has pondering so many things! Is sharing your day with someone a bad thing? Is it trivial content or relatable content? Does it make us feel closer to creators? DO WE FINALLY FEEL LIKE WE HAVE FRIENDS?!
The Truth About YouTube – mothcub
We know there’s been a whole lot of analysis in this list about our beloved YouTube community, and much of it a little downbeat, so we wanted to finish up with a more hopeful video from Lil Ashton. Of course she peppers in an appropriate amount of dark humour and a bit of existential dread, but it’s balanced perfectly with her optimistic note that creativity and unique, evocative content is always being created.
Although we see a lot of similar content and may have become disillusioned by its ubiquity, we have to remember that popular content is not all that is out there. We may see trends in the YouTube community, and it’s always valuable to keep our discussions open, but those trends do not have to be the rule. Lil reminds us with a beautiful analogy of the sea that fantastic creators, content, and communities are out there, we just have to be open to looking for them.
- Five of the Best: Reaction Videos
- Five of the Best: Send-Offs to 2015
- Five of the Best: YouTube Siblings