The Creator/Viewer Divide panel took place on Saturday at Summer in the City 2016. It featured creators Nathan Zed, Steven Bridges, Jana Dam, Evan Edinger, and Dottie James.
The panel kicked off with the question, “Do you find yourself acting differently as a creator and as a viewer of YouTube?” The five panellists all agreed that they had noticed a difference in themselves. Nathan admitted that he compares himself to other creators and Evan said he only has “slightly more chill as a creator now” when meeting other creators. Jana added that as she realises the reality and the pressure of creating videos it loses some of the magic.
Afterwards, the conversation moved to challenging misconceptions – namely, whether the panel found that any of their previous conceptions about creators and of viewers had changed. Dottie explained discovering that it wasn’t true that creators wanted to share everything. Nathan agreed, finding that some people feel entitled to know everything about their lives. He advises viewers to “treat [creators] like yourself”.
Regarding viewers, they agreed that it was important to try and understand the complexity of their audiences and see them as individuals. That there are real people behind every like and comment – even hate comments. Jana and Dottie explained that audiences do not simply fall into two categories of “fan or hater” and warned creators from simply using “the fangirl culture”.
Jana said she found that while there isn’t a “secret world of YouTubers”, there remain cliques within the community, which is a point the panel as a whole agreed with. They all felt that the gap has grown, not only between creators and viewers, but also amongst creators themselves. Dottie summarised their thoughts, saying, “humans create barriers between themselves”.
The panel all expressed their joy at meeting viewers, but also how hard they find it to give their best to every single individual. Evan shared a lesson he learned from Ed Sheeran – that a person may only meet you that one time and it is important to “give 100%, even if you don’t feel like it”.
Nathan agreed, discussing how, when he met some creators a few years ago, he felt dismissed and decided he didn’t want others to have that experience. Steven shared an awkward story where someone asked him, “Can I have a photo?”, and it turned out they were just tourists asking for help.
Overall, the panel said they enjoyed being able to discuss things with viewers. Steven expressed how rewarding he finds it when people come up to him. Nathan gave an example of a positive experience (with frequent warnings of “don’t do this”) of how, upon arriving in London, he realised that two fans had managed to figure out which airport he was arriving at and were there to welcome him.
The conversation of the panel revolved around the need to understand their audience as unique individuals, remembering that creators were, and still are, viewers themselves.
Photos by Rachel Kiki.
Want more from Summer in the City 2016?
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