Last year, I went to a YouTube gathering/event in London (I’m really not sure which it is) called Summer In The City. I’m not going this year because I’m gonna be in Manchester for the weekend BUT when I went last year I wrote an article for their free publication and I thought I’d reprint it for the sake of current interest.
Hello, everyone! My name’s Alex (youtube.com/alexday – I have friends in high places) and I would like to tell you a story.
So I have this beautiful friend called Jazza. (Look for him now – he’s the one in the Summer In The City shirt that looks sexy, but isn’t Dave or Liam.) Jazza emailed me the other day and said, “hey Alex, remember Summer In The City last year?” and I said “yeah!” and he said “we’re doing it again this year!” and I said “oh.” I remembered Summer In The City. For those that weren’t privileged enough to attend last year, we all marched around London with flags, and then Greg Holden did some songs.
Blimey, calm down Twitter, I’m obviously just being dismissive. I love me some Greg Holden. And I did enjoy Summer In The City last year. But, well … it was a year ago. As we all know, a lot can change in a year. This is true on YouTube even more than it is in ‘real life’. I say that, incidentally, even though I hate the term ‘real life’. If you walk up to Charlieissocoollike right now and touch his face, you’ll find he’s not exactly made of marshmallows. He is real. He’s a real human. This is all real. Don’t touch Charlie’s face, please. He won’t like it. Because he’s real.
The point is, twelve months in the offline world can be long enough that it feels like you’ve had big changes. I had a massive fight with a girl, but twelve months later, we’re friends again. And I released a couple albums. But that’s about all I did. It’s not much to report after a year. However: twelve months in the online world?! Oh my god! Ranttank! Tino forever’s forever dead! DoctorBenjy left YouTube! IT’S CHRISTMAS! AlexTheMagix caused a gossip sensation! Sons Of Admirals started! DoctorBenjy left YouTube! Sons Of Admirals ended! And there was VidCon! And Chartjackers! And DoctorBenjy left YouTube!
And trust me, that’s only the short list. There’re probably a hundred other things that have happened, but I try not to get pulled in to all this ‘this person and that person had a fight on twitter’ business – mainly because I theorise that over half the YouTube community are now merely constructs created from the mind of Tom Burns, just like fourguysandmhazz; they’re as real as we make them.
My point is that through all of this, the lovely tight-knit UK community we used to know has started to shift a lot. It’s been a year. People are going off, making real friends, having real experiences, getting jobs, learning about the world, travelling, releasing songs, making product reviews for websites, interviewing stars on the red carpet – and even if you’re not Daveyboyz, I’m sure you’ve had similar experiences to this.
The UK YouTube community seems to get too bogged down in how SERIOUS this all is. The people that have moved on are happy to move on and live their own lives, but those that are left get caught up in the cycle of taking Naked Friday picture after Naked Friday picture and refreshing, refreshing, refreshing, refreshing until their fingers have been filed down by F5. At least that’s what I’ve noticed from my safe distance at the top of my ivory tower, where I lay on a bed made from my own merchandise, naked and laughing, eating money just because I can. Everyone seems so pre-occupied with trying to reclaim what has been sickeningly termed ‘the glory days’. GetFeaturedUK was a good example of this – and don’t get me wrong, it’s a great idea – but it does preach that the YouTube community used to be vaguely “better”, that things have changed, and that this idea will bring it back to its former glory.
And that’s what I find strange. Everyone seems to be forgetting one thing.
It was always a bit rubbish.
Try and remember those ‘glory days’ when videos were featured. Remember – 8 out of 10 videos sucked! Weird cats and animations and badly recorded songs and commentaries and people eating their own feet. And anyone who says there is more drama between us UK lot now than there used to be has forgotten what it’s like to be at any other YouTube gathering EVER. I’d swear about it, but Jazza has told me not to.
This is the real point – none of that corporate drama used to matter. It wasn’t about being featured or having subscribers or getting endorsement deals. The important thing is that it was fun. Those sucky videos that got featured were fun to talk about; we all used to get together and chat about how lame they were, but then every now and then someone we knew would go up there like Liam’s CUZ I’M SCOTTISH video, and it was brilliant and we were proud of him. When Liam (or anyone we knew) got featured, we weren’t happy for him because he got more subscribers – we were happy for him because he was our friend. We used to make video responses to each other, and comment and chat to each other, and it just used to be so nice. Before the judgment started. Before some of us got more subscribers than others, and everyone assumed the higher-ups didn’t care about the lower-downs, and people started grabbing on to the past and trying to stop the world from changing.
The way I see it, things shouldn’t have changed. Why does this all have to matter? It doesn’t matter! If you see Charlie, go say hello! Because, like I said, we’re all real. (Maybe. I’m watching you, Tom.) I wish everyone would stop looking at how many subscribers someone has and just say “he looks fit, I’m gonna make out with him”, just like in the good old days, when I had no subscribers and lots of sex.*
Seriously, though – the issue is Subscriberism, and how it has to stop. Who cares about Shane Dawson and his odd thumbnails? He’s living his life. We need to separate the content from the people. YouTube is just a game to a lot of people, but it doesn’t change who those people are when all’s said and done. They’re still nice. And the YouTube community of two years ago wouldn’t care how many subscribers someone had – just so long as they were fun, and willing to get into a stickam chat once in a while. (Remember stickam? If you do, congratulations – you’ve passed.)
To be honest, these words may fall on deaf ears, as I’m considered to be a ‘higher-up’ myself – but I think we’re forgetting about all the times we had singing songs in Leicester Square. I’ve not made a secret of the fact that I don’t enjoy going to gatherings these days. But it’s not because I think I’m better than anybody else. I don’t care how many subscribers people have. But unfortunately, I think everybody else does. The fact is – we met on YouTube, but I think we’ve all grown beyond just being a YouTube community. These days, we’re all just friends.
So we should just hang out. Enjoy this weekend. Enjoy Summer In The City. Put the drama aside. And let’s try and capture those feelings from those years ago, when we were all outcasts, and thus, we were all friends.
Maybe I’ll see you there. Come say hi :) And seriously, please don’t touch Charlie’s face.