The State of the Community panel took place on Saturday at Summer in the City 2019. It featured Ricky Dillon, Armaan “AllAboutBants” Khwaja, Joel & Lia, and Chloe Rose, and was moderated by Jazza John.
Jazza opened the panel by asking everyone what community means to them. Ricky said that when he thinks of community, he thinks of YouTube and friendship. Chloe defined it as “supporting each other”, and Armaan said it was “another word for value”.
Jazza then described the dynamics of the community, including those among creators and those that watch and consume, and asked how these impact the panellists’ content. “Almost all my friends are YouTubers,” answered Ricky, who also said he wouldn’t enjoy YouTube if he “didn’t have a nice audience”. Chloe agreed that she “wouldn’t be doing it if it wasn’t for the audience”, but said that being friends with other creators who “understand you” is also important. “It is nice to have friends who get what you do… who understand the struggles you go through,” Ricky agreed.
Jazza asked whether the panellists have offline friendship groups. Armaan, being a new YouTuber, said he has some friends that are YouTubers and some that aren’t. He said he liked having those outside the industry around him as it’s “important to not just think about work all the time”, but that having creator friends can be a good source of inspiration. Joel and Lia explained that they have come up with their own terms to differentiate between friend groups, calling their non-YouTube friends “muggles”. Lia said that having a balance is healthy as “muggles can call you out on your privilege”. Chloe noted that sometimes being around other creators can blur the lines, where some things feel appropriate within the YouTube realm that might not be outside of it. Ricky addded that most of his best friends “grew on YouTube together”; they “started as muggles and became wizards together”.
As English-speakers themselves, most UK creators tend to have predominantly English-speaking audiences. Jazza asked how the panel can continue to foster their communities around their videos when there may be a disconnect with when and where people are watching. Joel said it can be a struggle and that he and Lia have “still have not found the balance”, but just have to go with the majority of their audience. Lia added that they tend to post videos late at night so that US audiences can view them.
Jazza wondered whether there is a cultural disconnect even within English-speaking countries. Chloe lived in the US for 17 years and Joel and Lia focus a lot on the US, and as British speakers, they noted that humour can be tough to translate, especially sarcasm. Chloe noted that she is often questioned for using American terms with a British accent, but that it’s “all in good fun”.
The panel then examined the consequences of being friends with other creators. Armaan said he has found that people tend to have “fake friends”, and some people he has known have been “used” by others which he didn’t expect. Joel agreed that “there are some rude people about… it’s a shock when you meet people who are very different in person”. “They are acting when they turn the camera on,” Jazza added. “It is just a job for some people, or they’re not as outgoing.” Joel said that “it could be shyness”, but Lia admitted that it can still be “hard not to take personally”. Chloe said she has found keeping a small friend group to be a way of combatting this. She noted that many people within the art community grew at the same time, which helped, but that there are “certain people I would be careful around”.
Asked whether there is a business incentive to being in certain friendship groups, Ricky said it is “hard to mesh friendship and business… it gets weird”. Jazza noted that living in LA must be particularly difficult as it is “drama central”. “It’s wild,” Ricky said. “I guess I’m used to it. I try to stay out of drama.”
The panel then discussed the perception that most UK YouTubers live in London. Lia said she has recently moved away, but hasn’t found it to be too much of a change: “The nature of the job is online… so there’s always a way to connect with people.”
The panel ended by returning to the topic of friendship. Lia and Joel, as friends who run a channel together, said it can be difficult at times. Have these friendships become transactional? “Oh my gosh, our friendship is now our job!” Lia joked, adding that for it to work you just need to keep the friendship “really healthy”. Joel agreed that “you have to invest time in our friendship off-camera”.
Photos by Emma Pamplin.
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