YouTube culture & the relationship between a creator and their audience

Thomas van de Weerd | Flickr
Thomas van de Weerd | Flickr

I know that the discussions surrounding YouTube culture happened a very long time ago, and that I’m a little late to the conversation but something happened recently that made me re-examine the relationship between the creator and their viewers. So now I’m throwing my own thoughts and feelings into the equation, because it’s better late than never right?

The “something” that happened was YouTuber Anna Saccone Joly tweeting a series of statements rejecting claims that she didn’t see her daughter, Emilia’s first day at preschool. She showed how disgusted she was by people speculating that she didn’t see Emilia go off to preschool for the first time – and stated that there had obviously been a misunderstanding.

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Although this may seem like something small, it does highlight the nature of the relationship between creators and their audiences. Audiences of vloggers such as Alfie Deyes and Zoe Sugg still seem to assume that they know as much as the creators do about their lives – especially when they vlog daily like the SacconeJolys do. This, along with the comments section at the bottom of the video, seems to suggest to those who watch that they can freely speculate and even criticise these people for simply living.

This, for me, is where the difference in content plays a massive factor. Content creators like Jack&Dean and KickthePJ – who create sketches, short films and animations – upload things that are there to be commented on and (constructively) criticised. Anna and Jonathan upload videos of their actual lives – and to have been criticised for the way they live, is like having somebody over your shoulder constantly going “you shouldn’t be doing that” “are you sure that’s how you want to live?” (Annoying, right?).

Commenting on a short film telling the director that they could have done something differently is fine – art is there to be spoken about critically. But real life isn’t an art form, and everyone’s idea of a “perfect” life is different because no two people are the same. So speculating over Anna’s relationship with her own daughter isn’t constructive – it’s personal and also none of your business.

Just because part of her life is there for you to consume, it doesn’t mean you see all of it. If I were to assume that the SacconeJoly’s lives are 100% what I see on camera, then I’d assume that Eduardo never cries, the children are never a bit bratty or misbehave, and that Jonathan and Anna never argue. But of course I know that’s not true, because in reality I probably see around 10% of their actual lives at the most.

What’s ironic is that the SacconeJolys call their viewers “friends”, but if I had a group of friends that one day decided to comment on and speculate bad things about my relationship with my daughter – I wouldn’t consider them friends.

For some reason being a daily vlogger seems to take the content creators – who are just normal people (say it louder for the ones at the back) – out of the regular “just a person” box, and place them in a different box where it’s okay for their every movement to be judged and commented on.

(Also the #getreal is just about the sassiest thing I’ve ever seen on Twitter, so well done Anna).

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