An interesting topic over on NeoGAF has sparked a debate over YouTubers and the influence they have on the current generation, and how it might be dangerous to refer to their fans as “friends.” It’s clear to see that streamers and YouTubers are having a massive influence as part of a media platform, and given their personalities and gaming abilities, it’s easy to see why they would garner such followings based on the products they are using and how they can connect on a more personal level as opposed to much more established platforms such as TV and radio.
I won’t be putting my neck on the line by stating which YouTubers I have particularly enjoyed watching in the past, but the fact that I feel that I can’t publicize who they are is an important point in itself. This is because many of these talents are a part of a platform of which they can share their personal views or say certain things that are controversial, offensive and ultimately becoming completely off-putting by offering views or expressions that are against anything I would ever agree with.
So with certain cases of controversy where something is said that definitely shouldn’t be, then you can see why people may worry over the influence that YouTubers have over the younger generation. I’m not going to go “won’t somebody please think of the children” on you over this, it just seems as if certain content creators are put on a pedestal, becoming a cult of personality of sorts, where their actions are defended in such a blind manner that what is being said or portrayed could be considered a non-issue. This could stem from certain viewers getting too attached when they are being referred to as their “friends” perhaps.
This is by no means a content creators fault. After all, the audience is responsible for getting them to this point in the first place, and showing their gratitude is only natural. I’ve recently started out as a Twitch streamer (with a lowly 220 followers, if you please) and during my short time, one of the most rewarding aspects is those who turn up to watch and engage with you, and you do connect to your audience on a much more personal level. Twitch is also a great platform for discovering some amazingly talented streamers, such as Jason Paradise and Chef Big Willy, among many others who are not only great with their audiences, but back it up with their skills as gamers to make an all-round form of great entertainment.
I don’t think that streamers and content creators are wrong for referring to their audience members as friends, nor do I think that is what is particularly dangerous. Since in many cases they address their audiences on a personal level, as if they are talking to them individually, you can see why people do get attached. I think overall the danger is the fact that some people can become so attached that they tie their own identities to these personalities, so when these creators are criticized for something, they too feel like they are being criticized.
The waters can get even muddier when money becomes involved. It’s great to see streamers and creators receiving support because their fans want to see them succeed. But handing over money with the mindset that it will deepen the bond between yourself and who you are watching is something that could lead to disappointment down the line.
Many are looking up to those they watch as others did back in the day with the stars they see on TV, and to an extent that is a good thing, especially since they are able to connect with fans on a far more intimate level than their favorite movie or sports star and so forth. Just as long as you maintain your own self-identity, lest you become tarred by a brush that shouldn’t have a negative influence on you in any way.
What are your thoughts on the matter? Feel free to leave a comment in the section below.