With just over 4 months to go until Summer In The City 2016, the event has begun rolling out its lineup of “featured creators”: influential channels who will be speaking on panels, performing on stage, or even meeting hundreds of their fans at the event.
Amongst the ever-growing list, huge names in the YouTube community like Emma Blackery, Twaimz and even Jon Cozart have already been confirmed, along with up-and-coming channels such as Ricky Ficarelli and Jana Vlogs – with plenty more promised to come. But in the midst of the excitement, however, the reaction from a large fraction of YouTube fans is spoiling it for everyone involved.
Just a fraction of how the replies were looking during SitC’s lineup announcements
Attendees of the event, who are likely waiting on certain names being announced, have been unable to contain their frustration at SitC’s line-up tweets, dismissing the creators they don’t recognise; and in many cases, including their @name, just to make sure the YouTuber in question feels extra-irrelevant.
Summer in the City has always attempted to bridge the gap between large creators and their fans by maintaining the idea that the event is more about “community” than “meeting your faves”. However, in the current “meet-up culture” that we live in, big names sell tickets – and in such a fast-moving digital platform as YouTube, lineups of featured guests such as this often serve as a handy “who’s who” of the next big names on the site.
So why are so many people so resistant to learn about any new creators?
Of course, complaints of this nature aren’t unique to YouTube events like Summer In The City, VidCon, etc. In the music world, attendees of Glastonbury festival are currently up in arms about this year’s lineup. Typically a rock-focused event, pop star Adele is set to headline on the mainstage on Saturday; much to the annoyance of regular attendees, who expect to see the same bands play every year until we all finally die, or something.
(Let’s not even get into the train wreck that was last year’s petition to remove Kanye West from the headlining slot)
Meanwhile in cinema, this year’s Academy Awards was one of the most controversial so far, with even less racial diversity amongst the nominees than 2015. The power of the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite led to reps from the Academy promising to diversify their nominating pool.
Of course, the complaints in regards to these events are rooted in genuine grievances – long-term expectations, difference in music tastes, and systemic racism. But the entire foundation of the complaints from YouTube fans, in response to lineup announcements from events like SitC, seems to be that the names just aren’t “famous” enough.
So what’s that about?
A lot of the reason YouTubers connect with their audiences on such an intense level is that they appear far more “accessible” than their mainstream media celebrity counterparts. They are routinely Tweeting, Snapchatting, and livestreaming their entire day – offering filtered windows that present them to their audience as “normal people living perfect lives”. It’s a narrative that, even in a world where a gamer like Pewdiepie has a net worth that rivals some footballers, still manages to portray YouTubers and all of #TeamInternet as the “underdogs”.
And yet somewhere along the way, as “YouTuber” becomes synonymous with “celebrity”, fans of some of the site’s largest creators seem to have forgotten that even their faves were genuine, actual underdogs at one point. There was a time where Zoella was uploading with a terrible webcam and copyrighted music. There was a day where Danisnotonfire celebrated his tenth subscriber. But when other creators who could be huge names in a year’s time appear to be making that same journey, members of #TeamInternet aren’t even giving them the time of day – which is possibly the most un-#TeamInternet thing ever.
All of this has become combined with one of the internet’s greatest weaknesses of late, which is something akin to a “pride in ignorance”. Not knowing things has become a #relatable trend, which has unfortunately translated into “never attempting to learn anything ever”. Despite having a digital archive of almost the entirety of all human knowledge available at our fingertips, when most of us encounter something (or someone) we aren’t familiar with, we prefer to blithely Tweet our lack of knowledge out to the world in order to gain validation from equally uninformed peers – instead of just, like, Googling it.
Honestly, you’re already online, it would take you 30 seconds
Let’s be clear: Nobody is expecting you to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of every YouTuber there is, or to be the biggest fan of all of them. Nowadays there are thousands of humans that fit that description, and of course it’s okay to have favourites and preferences. But there is something seriously wrong when a creator with over 3 million subscribers such as Jon Cozart is announced for an event, and people feel the need to ask “where are the more popular ones?”
Would it hurt that much to bite our tongues when we come across a name we don’t recognise, instead of dismissively discrediting the hard work they’ve probably done to earn recognition from other people? Better yet, why not join them in their journey?
Now that’s how you #TeamInternet.