Another day, another Youtuber is found to have harassed his fans, and more my respect for the Youtube community I so want to be a part of, falters. The thing that drew me to Youtube, was how open a creative platform it was, however, what once was an incredible way to connect with content makers, seems to have become a way for some to exploit their power. The relationship between a Youtuber and their fans is very different to any other ‘celebrity’, in that their work, and interaction, is all conducted online. Unlike Ryan Gosling, the chances of your comments being replied to by a Youtuber are a lot more likely. The Youtube community also have a lot of meet ups, held in towns, often with little to no policing or formality, and according to a lot of the reports, this is where many of the inappropriate relationships started. Now, don’t get me wrong. I think it’s great that fans could meet their video idols and even in some cases start up friendships or romance. My issue is that very often, these fans were under the legal age of consent, and even more often, they were manipulated and/or abused by their heroes.
Of course, we mustn’t tar all Youtubers with the same brush, there are a lot of vloggers, even friends of those accused, who have been horrified to hear what has been happening and who would never think of doing anything similar. The fact of the matter is, however, that the numbers are rising at an alarming rate. Whether it’s Alex Day cheating on his beautiful girlfriend with girls too scared to say ‘no’ directly, Sam Pepper videoing himself violating strangers in the street, or Tom Milsom emotionally and physically abusing his transatlantic ‘girlfriend’ – this has to stop.
The first step to stopping this happening is simple: Youtubers, stop harassing your fans and abusing your powers. If this happens, then there is likely to be no problem, however, this still appears to be a problem, and so, to the fans. Nobody, no matter how many views they have on the internet, has the right to touch your body without your consent. I entirely understand that you are likely to feel as though you should want them to, because they are famous, however, this is not true. If you do not feel comfortable, do not feel ashamed or embarrassed to say no. Anyone who disrespects these wishes, or makes you feel as though you are in the wrong, is a terrible person, who does not deserve your respect, subscriptions, or body.
To those of us who have never, and will never find ourselves interacting any more than just watching a video of a Youtuber we love, it is also our responsibility. We must act as comrades to those who are brave enough to report the abuse or harassment and support them as friends and strangers. We must also make it incredibly clear to the perpetrators that this is not okay. That we will no longer watch their videos, earning them money, if they treat people in this way. The thing I love about Youtube is the community that has been built, and it is so important that we use this community for good, to protect those within it and to stamp out this horrific new ‘trend’ in our online world.