Charlieissocoolike – Charlie McDonnell posted a video a few days ago, talking about how scared he is as a creator of content lately and how this has kept him from making videos. It has led to a host of honest, critical, and heartfelt responses. Both in the form of comments and video responses that support Charlie and in comments and video responses in which other youtubers open up about their own insecurities. Many of the latter are heartbreaking. Charlie sure has created a wave. Youtubers who addressed the topic constructively were, among others, mickeleh, billtvmacon, and Hank Green. About two or three days before Charlie, another prominent you tuber, roguebluejay – Ali Jardine made a video with the same title I’m scared’. It was more of a list of things he was scared of and not an in depth explanation of one. However it touched on the same issue of ‘will people like me and my content?’ that Charlie’s video addressed. So maybe this acknowledging of being scared is a zeitgeist thing. Who knows?
Well, I have many and varied thoughts about this topic. From a personal perspective, I do understand that the thought of becoming culturally irrelevant, boring, and forgotten is one that can go to the very core. Charlie has become famous for one thing, making videos on the internet, and that’s it. He needs to keep his one thing interesting, or people will move to someone else doing the entertaining in the long run. And with youtube being a medium that caters mostly to the very young, there is an army of eager sixteen year olds that are poised to take over. So, yes, this is a competition and you need to be on your feet to get ahead.
Another factor might be that Charlie has been doing this for at least four years now and in those four years he grew up. He is not a teenager anymore and maybe his interests have shifted, as they are wont to do. How many 22 year olds still want to live anymore like their 17 and 18 year old selves? So if he is changing his content, will his audience change with him?
I tweeted with Charlie’s mom, or like the Brits say, mum. yesterday. Lilliesarelike – Lindsay Atkins is a lovely person and a great mum. She sees him struggle and it is never easy for a mom to see their kids struggle and being lost. So one part of me hopes that Charlie finds his way again and soon.
Another part of me steps a few steps back and says: First World Problems!
As much as I understand his line of thinking, I consider it a superficial problem to have. This is what you come up with when everything else in your life is taken care of and you got time to worry. Charlie has an audience reaching into the millions. He can at this point just sit there and read google maps directions and people will like, no love, his videos. He can live comfortably off his youtube money and he has a bunch of friends and a great family to support him. As far as problems go, his problems are good ones to have.
When I think of other youtubers who do not have some, or any of those things and still keep chugging on, I find that it puts creative problems into perspective. One of my friends is really sick and in pain, yet she bravely takes her meds, fights with the insurance companies, and still smiles into the camera and comes up with beautiful songs. Another is constantly sick and the doctors can’t even find out what he has. Talk about stress and insecurities there. You might have a terminal disease, you might not, hold on for a while, we’ll tell you soon. And yet he makes funny videos to distract himself and make others smile.
And then there is Shawn, who has to bypass his country’s cencorship of youtube to upload progress reports on the building of the John Green School. Who casually tells you the best course of medical treatment for dysentery, because that is what you get out there ever so often. Who relies on his parent’s money to support him, because he can’t live off the money he gets from youtube. He is in the same boat there as many of my other youtube friends who continuously have great output, but who are not really in the higher echelons of the site, maybe because they found it too late, or they do not have the needed cute factor, or they are just considered too old by the main audience, or for any other reason that I can’t think of right now. Still they all follow their passion and put out video after video with a grim perseverance that is very much admirable.
All those youtubers are not worried about their creative output. They have other things to worry about.