My thoughts on cancel culture on YT.
Cancel culture is a quite new phenomenon. Our digital world evolves rapidly and so it gives us some challenges on how to approach things. Our parents and grandparents had a more vast set of rules on social interaction. They were mostly in touch with their family, friends, colleagues and neighbors. Their social world was significantly smaller as compared to to today.
With evolution we see differences in our society. Let’s take into consideration how the French revolution, which I will categorize under cancel culture or ‘mob mentality’ for the purpose of the subject, brought significant changes. The industrial (r)evolution from the beginning of the 19th century reflects greatly on how we organize our work today. When things are evolving and people group themselves, there are different outcomes possible.
Definition and origins.
What is cancel culture? First, to be able to speak about a subject, we must find a definition. “Cancel culture is a form of boycott , that aims to hold individuals and groups accountable by calling attention to behavior that is perceived to be problematic, usually on social media”. Adding that “when you deprive someone of your attention, you’re depriving them of a livelihood.”
I wrote ‘boycott’, not public shaming, no hate speech or violence of any kind. This is important to keep in mind.
Where does the term come from? The usage is widely understood to have come from Black Twitter, the loose networks of black users active on the site.
So is everyone in fear of being cancelled?
Being cancelled is sometimes a loosely used term, he (7) or she is cancelled! But we can definitely cancel 2018. We can cancel Tuesday and leggings and maybe succulents. Everything can be cancelled. It’s a fun way to say, it’s over, not on trend anymore or we just wish it wouldn’t exist. Like Mondays.
But ‘being cancelled’ can have another undertone to it. A more serious one. When we think about being cancelled as a group of people who ‘break up’ with a person by withdrawing their time, affection or money; we see that the most vulnerable people to being cancelled are the ones who thrive on attention. Attention, view time, clicks, likes etc.
In this digital day and age a lot of people flock to the internet. It is a valid economy. Personal branding became a thing. On YT your personality can be your brand. This looks easy on the outside but has serious difficulties. You have to be able to endure the criticism but on the other hand you can be your beautiful self. Sounds so lovely doesn’t it? Why does Emilia Fart comes to mind?
People who are their own brand and succeed, have this personality. People watch them for it or they hate them. Or they watch them sometimes. But the point is, they have something to offer. A je ne sais quoi. When your personality and your message falls into place with viewers and their preferences at the time, you’re not cancelled. You blow up. Jennelle Eliane proved this earlier this month. Emma Chamberlain and Joanna Cedia experienced this too.
The brand needs to be solid. ‘You stay on brand’
In time of scrutiny, a YT’er will need his brand. It is the bottom line, the rock, the thing you hold on to when things get shaky. Trisha Paytas lived through many hardships online but is a brand on her own. Not to be pinpointed on one thing, she switches through mukbangs, weightloss, crying on the kitchen floor, being (overly) sexy, a tat crazy, but you’ll recognize her brand. Even the glitter b*tch box fits very well in that narrative. It is that (personal) brand that ties the followers to the YT’er. But the creators need to be willing to put the work in. People will learn to know and to appreciate them. They kinda trust them. When they are solid and real, they are a real YT’er.
A person who does this very meticulous is Pewiedipie. He started with gaming and stays in that lane, while he finds a way to evolve but just not too much. People know him for memes, every day uploads, humor and gaming. He got cancelled big time in the past. Apologized and moved on, on brand. Jeffree Star, a controversial figure. Yes, he is on social media, yes he IS definitely his brand. Yes, he sells the American dream so well. Is he shady? May be. Do you need to love him? Not really. I hear his make-up is very good. I live in Europe. I don’t see make-up here in such lovely colors that he puts out. Jeffree can be cancelled, his make-up, his brand, will stay. That is, if the quality stays and he keeps innovating.
Being your own brand and have products can be a really tricky thing. Let’s speak about Jeffree again. When he messes up very bad, there will be consequences for his brand. But when he handles it well and keeps the quality of the make- up up, he is in a stronger position. That is good for business. Another beauty guru – not sure of the category – was cancelled. Kat Von D came under fire and didn’t recover fully. But her palette was not what was expected before her online popularity went down. It sealed the deal. For now. For Jeffree it plays out very well at the moment because his online presence adds to the value of the product he already has. His brand is solid.
The people who watch YT are not the brainless masses we think. We consume content but to a certain extent. We sometimes see things that are not right. We aren’t always are able to watch all of the video’s. So we put our trust in the drama/commentary channels. We trust them to do the research. They have the receipts! Can they be cancelled? Off course, but as long as they don’t shame our trust we will follow them if we want. So there lies quite a responsibilty in integrity. They have to watch carefully and decide what situation they will discuss. Also creators must take responsibility on how they address other people. It is their responsibility to forsee the best way they can, what the consequenses will be. ‘To the best of their ability’. That is part of the job in my opinion. Isn’t that very difficult? Yes and no. I hear a lot of creators say ‘please don’t send any hate to people mentionted in this video’. It’s a small step but it works. On a lighter note: We also watch numerous creators who are not in scandals. In the Beauty Community I believe Patrick Starr is a good example. Just to say that that is an option too!
Are we all sheeple?
Yes and no. We are human, humans live in a group. We all have opinions. So when we see things that are not acceptable, things that are based on misinformation, lies or things that don’t stroke with our moral standards, we will react. And rightfully so. We need to do that as a society. In case of YT there are few regulations, the term and conditions are not clear and not sufficient enough. But do we want that to happen? Do we want to be regulated too a t? With less regulations and more freedom people can react and speak up. We saw this very clearly in the Logan Paul situation. He uploaded a very sensitive video. People waited to see what YT would do. There was no efficient answer. So people spoke up.
An example of people not being held accountable in time is the German naturopath Klaus Ross, who was being sentenced to 2 years of jailtime . People did die because of his misinformation and actions. Jillian Epperly, who is on YT, was ‘called out’ by Dr. Phil and YT’er Jeff Holiday because of her very dangerous advice. People like Jillian are also on the platform. They also have followers and subcribers.
So why do people speak up? Because they care. People care about one and other and that is beautiful. We call out shady behavior. Video after video after video. Phyzik and Repzion are exellent examples. We do expect change, while watching those videos. As a society of YT. We don’t throw the human away with the behavior, as long as the creators are willing to listen to the remarks being made. Not listen as ‘yes, I will do what you tell me’ but in a place of mutual respect and dialogue. We are in this together.
Being cancelled and what now?
People are very forgiving on the platform. Jaclyn Hill came out with a special lipstick line. It all went wrong. From the pr to the product itself, the shipping and there were also many concerns. Again we see people voice their opinion. Again we expected or believed there would be more regulation. How can such an item be sold? People examined the lipsticks themselves. In what world is that ok? I see this as a signal to a higher level. People want to be safe, they want to be able to trust a product that is being sold. This is not the dark web or the black market. When you look at it in that way, the cancel culture can change things. Are we angry at Jaclyn Hill? No. We are concerned. We want to be safe. If only her lipsticks would change the regulations of the make-up being sold in the US. Well, maybe I am a dreamer ….
Back to reality! Do I believe people will buy another beauty product from her? Yes. Why not? Some will, some don’t. We cancel and sometimes still support.
YT on the other hand silenced some creators like Mumkey Jones. While other got away with announcing a shooting. We don’t understand that. We are not the algorithm. We are not all driven by money. We like nice content and personality. So we make our own rules. That is how people organize their surroundings. Every family has his own rules. Sometimes they eat a warm meal at lunch, others in the evening. Some families have fixed places at the table, other don’t. You can think about specific rules in your workplace, with your friend group and so on.
YT is not as big as a whole continent or country. It doesn’t have the same regulations because of the media that is used. Who would talk in their group of friends as they do online? But it’s larger than a family. We form communities, what also happens in real life. On average people can handle a group of 100 people. More than that is too much. Most people have close friends which form a smaller group. The same thing happens on YT. We have a lot of communities. A lot! Think of a subject and there will be a community. It’s all inclusive (I hope!). All those communities do exist quite peacefully. In that regard, we do better than real society. Some communities are harsher, other more open; you will find your fit. But how do we protect our boundaries? How do we feel safe on YT? How do we keep it healthy? WE do that. By voicing our opinions. The fact that sponsorships need to be transparent is a direct result of that.
Do we cancel every breath a social media figure takes?
No. But as a society we are evolving. We learn things. We see things. We know right from wrong. People don’t always want to gossip or take the other one down. I see people really making the effort to guard the boundaries of YT as you will.
Is the mob mentality a bad thing per se?
No. People have power. We see that in politics (well we should see that, that’s another discussion). We see that when a revolution takes place. People accept what is offered in general, they accept times ‘as they are’. But sometimes people suffer a lot as a result of decisions of other people. Think about poor people being oppressed by kings and landlords. There is that crucial point in time, when people do come together and revolt. The time when ‘enough is enough’. They form a mob and voice an opinion. People changed history, people fought for what they believed was right. Now we have freedom of religion, freedom of speech. I will not go so far to draw parallels between YT and great events in history but the mechanism are a bit similar. YT is just a smaller, newer community. With less regulation and we all struggle with that. We struggle with finding the rules of what is acceptable and what is not. ‘Mob mentality’ is that struggle. It’s a quest for boundaries. Compare it with a fire drill. When nobody know what to do, there will be chaos and people get hurt. When we know where the exits are and maybe there are stewards, it can be a piece of cake.
We can only hope that the ‘common opinion’ is the right one when we decide to speak up and call people out. We don’t always have all the facts but we cannot let it slide either. I see a lot of channels with integrity. They don’t’ always want to put people down’ for the sake of it or just for views. Actually more than not, such behavior is frowned upon. And then again, cancelled. I will not mention the situation that comes to mind on that topic. Because when you know, you know.
What is right and what is wrong?
History holds examples of both ways, the right and the very wrong. It is maybe more difficult to forgive when a large group of people was ‘in the wrong’. But when we show compassion to one another, we can overcome things. I read comments of people stating that they are sad that they were swooped into an opinion or a reaction. We forgive, learn and move on. We also need to forgive the creators, as stated before, who are being attacked for their behavior. We keep the creator and give him a chance to change. The latter is also my observation, not only my morals speaking! But we expect some mature behaviour, we want them to reflect on that behaviour and to take responibility. Yes, that is what comes along with being in the spotlight. But it is also an indivual duty for creator and viewer. As a person. The intenet is still a web of people.
In conclusion, I do believe we are in this together. As viewers and as creators. We need to listen to each other. It’s not an easy journey but this platform means something to people (I mean not only the monetary gain) so we will have to learn together. And cancel culture is a learning process that can point the way in a healthy, safe and fun direction. As long as we all are mature enough and take responsibility for our actions.
 I do not speak of algorithm’s in this blog. This are purely my opinions and thoughts, who are also limited as I don’t know everything on every creator. Creators in this blog are referenced to as an example to elaborate on my opinion. I’m sorry may I represented somebody not correctly. You can contact me at my Twitter: @ListenVeryCare2
 Wikipedia, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Call-out_culture#Cancel_Culture
 Prof Lisa Nakamura, University of Michingan
 Think about Phyzik, Jeff Holiday, Primink, Repzion and many many more
 Many thanks to Rich Lux, Psych IRL, Elle Loves Tea, Spill, Tea by Ali, Not Another Drama Channel and Hedda Gold for their endless dedication. And many more, you know who you are!
 He, she, creator, YT’er, they, … please fill in the pronounce you want to. I do not want to offend anybody, I just write from the heart.
 Call -out culture or outrage culture is a form of public shaming.