Hello Beautiful People!
I never really thought twice about saying I was a YouTuber. But then, one day, someone, rather spontaneously confessed that they thought me a shallow individual, purely on the basis of that label. If I said I was a YouTuber, I must then also be a shallow fame-seeking money desperate beauty boy obsessed with follower counts.
This moment simultaneously distanced me from my judgemental ‘friend’ and also made me take a step back and look at myself and how others perceived me. Was I some shallow fame-seeking follower count obsessed catty social media person? And if I was, did that make me a bad person? After all, some creators are happy to admit that they do it for the money or the fame – and I certainly don’t judge them for it, just as I try not to judge anyone. But all judgements and morality aside, I was nothing short of horrified to discover people, even those who knew me well, had such a perception of me the moment the self declared title left my lips.
I’ve gotten more insecure about how people perceive me as I’ve gotten older – and I’m sure social media has played a role in that – but I’ve never thought twice about using YouTuber as a part of my identity. To me, that word represents a million different things. What is a YouTuber? A baker, a make-up artist, a performer, a reviewer, a writer, a reader, a presenter… And much much more. To me, that label tells people “I make videos online” and nothing more; but it invites them to step into a carefully curated world where my art, personality, passion, and politics are on a 1700 subscriber display, ready to rock the world.
So why is my image attached to the label YouTuber so vastly different from those around me?
I have to think of how people react when they hear that I’m a YouTuber. Usually it’s a mixture of awe and curiousity. The assumption is that if I say I’m a YouTuber, I must be crazy successful with hundreds of thousands of online followers; a hidden celebrity they’re only just discovering. They want to know what sort of content I make, most certainly, but the questions very quickly move on to numbers. They want to know if I’m worth something to them. Are they actually speaking to a celebrity right then and there? Can I do something for them? Am I worth getting a photograph with?
And the answer, of course, is no, to all of those; because the moment the number slips from my lips the conversation changes. All of a sudden I’m less interesting. And perhaps there-in lies the opportunity for me to also be shallow and fame-seeking. Because if I was indeed a celebrity I wouldn’t very well be seeking fame, would I? But as a smaller creator, my ambitions are perceived as just that. Shallow fame-seeking social media whoring.
I can’t help that perception really. If people want to see me that way, they can. Labels will always have varied associations by those who hear them and those who use them; and that’s the reality we all face by taking a word and attaching it to our identity.
But this isn’t to complain about that perception, but rather to reflect on it. You see, contrary to popular belief, I actually have no desire to be famous or wealthy. Successful, perhaps, but not the former two.
My close friend once told me: “Bradley, the way I see it, there’s only two things in this world that are important to you: Facilitating change in the world, and connecting with people while doing it.”
I have never before heard two things that more accurately sum up my desire to be on YouTube and the joy that I get from creating videos. Not only do I get to facilitate some small amount of change in the world around me, by sharing my voice and advocating for others, but I also get to connect with others like me all over the world and collect stories and inspiration. Of course I would like to be able to do what I love for a living, but that doesn’t necessitate fame and fortune, nor is that the goal.
I’ve also been told that I’m far too defensive online and offline, and I know this about myself, so I want to finish by saying that I’m not writing this to defend myself or my image. I’m also not writing it as some ego-boosting declaration of self-righteousness, but rather because, like all things I do online, it’s a conversation I don’t see being had often online, and it’s a conversation I wanted to have.
So now I pass it on to you: What do you think of when you hear the term ‘YouTuber’? Is it a positive or negative reaction? Leave your thoughts in the comments, and thank you so much for reading!
If you’re interested, check out my last video where I transform a shallow YouTube tag into something more positive: