As YouTube moves further and further into the mainstream, the YouTube community faces some pressure; because suddenly it has a huge first impression to make while many of its biggest creators are being thrust into the limelight on bus stops and cinema ads.
But with over 10 years to grow and mature, there’s a lot that the unsung heroes of the greater community of both creators and fans has to offer. A look below the surface of daily vlogs and challenges will reveal a rich, diverse and progressive community of millions, with some crucial core messages to share with the world. We narrowed it down to just a few choice talking points:
Many people will look at YouTube and its creators from the outside, and assume that everyone is completely self-obsessed; but in most cases, it couldn’t be farther from the truth. Sure, the cult of personality surrounding YouTube puts millions of impressionable eyes on these creators; but most are using that platform to make the world better. Community organisation, charity and social justice have been some of YouTube’s defining traits for years.
From the Vlogbrothers‘ annual YouTube takeover with the Project For Awesome, to Hannah Hart‘s nationwide food drive event Have A Hart Day, to Zoella becoming an ambassador for Mind; creators are constantly encouraging their audiences to do good and contribute in ways that can benefit others. And they’re constantly finding fun and unique ways of doing so; breaking the layer of stagnation that many non-profits have struggled with, as social media evolves faster than their strategies.
It’s no secret that the face of YouTube has been pretty and white for a very long time. Featured channels, ad campaigns and even innocent video collaborations have made it very hard for more diverse faces to make it to the forefront of YouTube. The site itself is taking steps to diversify its roster of featured creators; but it’s the community that has been pushing it gently in that direction.
Community events like VidCon, Summer in The City or Buffer Festival have become brilliant platforms for creators of varying races, body types and gender and sexual identities; a place to openly discuss their need for representation to both a young audience, and industry voices that could actively make a difference. These discussions have also encouraged their fellow, more privileged creators in the YouTube community to make a more conscious effort to expand their own worldviews.
We’ve discussed at length about some of the pitfalls that the YouTube community frequently faces; and this includes times where the safety of some of its members is compromised. Obviously the most notable example is the unsettling trend of prolific male YouTubers exhibiting abusive behaviour towards both partners and fans. Despite how open and progressive most of the community tends to be, allegations of abuse tend to come in waves; and most recently made against Toby Turner by his former girlfriend.
We’ve seen more and more in recent years that this pattern of behaviour isn’t exclusive to the YouTube world; since other media industries have their own fair share of monsters. But what makes this community stand out is the way they refuse to sweep these allegations under the rug, or continue to glorify creators who might threaten their peers.
A huge percentage of YouTube creators, fans and industry people have adopted a zero-tolerance policy to abuse allegations; and while this does not always necessarily result in the end of a career or a jail sentence for those accused, it certainly gives others cause for caution when dealing with them.
If you’re new to this community – be it via one particular creator you love, or a news article about a vlogger that confused you – there is a lot for you to discover beyond the videos. We at We The Unicorns hope you’ll join us in exploring everything this world has to offer, and bettering ourselves a little bit from it.
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