Whether it’s in real life or in the videos we watch on a daily basis, it’s not unusual to hear people describe YouTubers as having the perfect life. Thanks to vlogging talents and the skills to edit an entire day’s worth of footage down to 5-10 minutes, an over-arching feeling of happiness seems to radiate out of the videos we watch. But despite appearances, we never truly take the time to wonder: Are these people just as positive and peppy once the camera is switched off?
To explore this question, and to see why so many YouTubers seem to feel obliged to “force happiness”, we’ll take a look into four of the most popular videos on the topic. These have all been released in the last two weeks, as the likes of PewDiePie, Casey Neistat, Shane Dawson and Scola Dondo weigh in on the issue of mental health.
PEWDIEPIE – ‘Forced Positivity On YouTube’
In this video, Felix talks about how, in his old videos, he would over-hype his emotions and reactions to games, but that as soon as [he] “hit the stop recording button [he] would just be in a shitty mood”. Because of this, in his more recent videos, fans have come to believe that Felix is “depressed” or “unhappy” simply because he has stopped forcing a peppy attitude when on camera. On the topic of other creators continuing to “act happy”, he believes they are “forcing positivity to get more views on YouTube”.
In addition to talking about his own change of perspective, he bashes motivational posters and speakers for saying that the best way to improve your life is to convince yourself to be happy. He states that filtering one’s life and to broadcast only the highlights and “best bits” to an audience of potentially millions is “dishonest” and is doing “more harm than good”.
CASEY NEISTAT – ‘I’m Not That Happy’
Next up is Casey Neistat who discusses how, over 600 days, he filmed and worked 20 hour days to “pluck the happy and fun and interesting aspects of [my] life” and put it onto YouTube. He discusses how during this time, he obviously had “fights with [his] wife” and attended a funeral that he had to consciously vlog around because his audience didn’t need to see the negative parts of his life.
Most importantly of all, Casey mentions how, now that he’s not vlogging daily, he has a lot more “free brain space” to “return to being a human being”. If the King of Daily Vlogging tells you that being a YouTuber made him feel inhuman, then you need to hear what else he’s saying: Shrinking his life down into 10 minute videos of concentrated happiness made him genuinely feel awful.
SHANE DAWSON – ‘Why YouTubers Are Depressed’
Shane’s video is longer than other YouTubers talking about the topic of forced positivity, but focuses on a different angle entirely. He uploaded it after fans asked why he didn’t appear in YouTube Rewind 2016, and explains how “most YouTubers aren’t even themselves in their videos that much”. Shane makes specific reference to the concept of meeting YouTubers in real life, and how most people realise how human and “sad” they come across in comparison to their video personas – BECAUSE of the way they force an image of happiness.
On a personal level to Shane, he discusses the difficulty that comes with creating videos and then having to “edit” and stare at yourself for hours on end every single day. This is a struggle to Shane ,who has been open about his body image issues in the past, and it has been the main reason he has turned down opportunities such as YouTube Rewind. It’s reasons like this that Shane believes “YouTubers are depressed”.
SCOLA DONDO – ‘Why I’m Not Happy’
And finally, Scola Dondo has uploaded her “confession” regarding her own emotions as a YouTuber. In her words, “everyone on YouTube seems to have some sort of mental health problem” and in the beginning of her own career, “it took a little while to figure out” her own depression. In fact, Scola admits to faking “being positive and fake being happy” videos in the past to conceal her true emotions.
To make sense of this, Scola goes on to explain WHY she does this and why “particular personality traits” seem more popular on YouTube. She’s been told in the past by fans that she’s “a lot shyer in person” based on the way she films herself “in [her] most comfortable state”. She says that: “Odds are, I’m turning on the camera when I’m in my best mood, and so you’re seeing the happiest version of myself”.
But now you’ve heard what the YouTubers have to say about happiness, what do YOU think? Let us know in the comments below.