Words by Zara Koroma
It would be safe to say that many of us born Generation Z grew up with youtube being influential in our lives. We went from finding laughter on TV to discovering endless entertainment on online.
I remember when I got my first iPod Touch at the time when many of my favorite shows canceled like Wizards of Waverly Place and iCarly. Back then, the iPod came already equipped with Youtube readily available. I can never truly explain what happened after I opened the app or what I even watched, but that was just the beginning for me. I slowly fell in love with Youtube and all that it had to offer for me as I grew up. I went through an abundance of Youtube phases. When I was OBSESSED with Tyler Oakley, I bought his sweatshirt that read “I can’t stop watching Youtubers.” I dreamt of going to vidcon and would endlessly talk about my favorite Youtubers with my friends. Embarrassingly, I read fanfics and sometimes even wrote (but never published) them as I bought a wide array of Youtubers’ books. Not to mention, I dragged my dad all the way to Hollywood and made him wait two hours with me to meet Connor Franta. Yet, as soon as I promoted from middle school, my obsession with Youtube slowly vanished.
I found that it was because I grew up as some Youtubers stayed the same and the other Youtubers I loved grew away from the platform, like Troye Sivan. Don’t get me wrong, I did not completely give up on Youtube as I still watch a good handful of Youtubers regularly; however, I just do not see myself as invested as I was before. I noticed a brand new group emerge on Youtube that reminded me of how when shows like Skins and Degrassi introduced the new group of kids. They sure do fit the roles of what the formers did, but it is just not the same as it feels less fresh and more manufactured.
One of the biggest changes I noticed was in the beauty community. Right before I braced myself with the awkward stage of middle school, I hid under my blanket watching MacBarbie07, Michelle Phan, and AndreasChoice apply Maybelline’s “Baby Lips” and other makeup I was not allowed to wear. There was no drama between any of the girls displayed publicly by drama channels. No racism scandals, fake apologies, or feuds smothered the fresh air of the beauty community back then. Now, I feel like every other month a beauty guru is exposed for being a terrible person (receipts included). I do not find a problem in the exposing, but find it rather weird how a community once known for their bright and colorful thumbnails turned into a community known for drama.
The reason for this may be found it the fact that Youtube is now seen as a job rather than a hobby. What I learned from the Netflix show Dynasty is that business is a dirty game behind the scenes. For example, recently Tati Westbrook posted a 45 minute video exposing James Charles of being inconsiderate, rude, and inappropriate towards others. I started watching James Charles summer of 2016, and I stopped watching him in less than a year later when he posted an insensitive tweet about him catching Ebola in Africa. So, you can imagine my lack of surprise when Tati just reaffirmed what I thought of him many James Charles scandals later. As somebody who’s been in the know of James Charles since his third video and witnessed his downfall, I have finally witnessed the impact Youtube fame has on this new group of young adults. They are not only getting millions of fans, but also millions of dollars added to their bank account.
Not only is the influx of money changing the community, but also the money sign attached to these scandals. There is a huge appeal of drama and that can be seen by the rise of drama channels. The first drama video I ever recall watching was probably five years ago, it was something do with Magcon; however, it was more like a diss video rather than the TMZ-like approach these channels are doing now. Allegedly, similar to celebrities, Youtubers are now creating their own publicity stunts to get more attention from these drama channels. Their videos usually get at least a million views and there are various videos on one event scattered all over Youtube. Also, Youtubers are making their own drama videos in which they “spill the tea” and put add “receipts.”
This is just what I found in the beauty community, but Youtube is definitely not what it used to be. Some people used to say that Youtube is going to kill Hollywood, but instead I believe it is becoming Hollywood. The appeal of Youtube and the people on my screen were how they were just normal people, but as time goes by, Youtubers are becoming more like characters to me. If you closely examine the dynamics of Youtube culture, there are the antagonists and good guys, the ones you should be rooting for and the ones you should be canceling. Dare I say that Youtube is as produced as Hollywood.
I will continue to be nostalgic about the earlier Youtube I watched while the older generations reminiscence over the days they had no technology. How can I not when Youtube truly impacted the way I acted, dressed, and talked. That’s the thing I can never hate about Youtube; the way it shaped a whole generation is unbelievable.
Zara is 16 year old girl from Southern California. She has always loved reading and creating stories ever since she was little. That has led her to love many other things that involve storytelling too, like fashion, movies, and music. She tends to find the story behind many things in life and hopes to find a career path where she can do that for a living. Her overall dream is to be a creative living in New York City.
Follow Zara: @cyberzara