Is it dangerous that people see YouTubers as "their friends"?

#1
Because of the recent PDP shenanigans and stuff I hear lately in my part time work (without wanting to disclose much, I know what children are talking about nowadays), it seems quite a lot of people see their favorite YouTubers not just as an entertainment form, but some even as some sort of friend or at least a person they have a special connection to.

You see people talking about PDP as Felix. The conversations I can listen to seem that a lot of kids see them as a friend that would do everything for them and its naturally. A lot of famous YouTubers do the "I am your friend"-shtick. Personal interactions in comments, forums, videos etc.

The question is is it dangerous that young people even see (some) YouTubers as their friends? A lot of young PDP fans e.g. dont see anything wrong by saying the n-word. They even love the "Hitler did nothing wrong"-memes and stuff like that.
Young people, judging by Twitter comments, even defended "DaddyofFive", when he abused his children and make it seem to people that its just "playful pranking".

Since to the young generation YT kinda replaced TV and Radio, at least partly, I think it might be dangerous how easily big YouTubers can influence and imo YT and the government should draft new laws that TV-stations, newspapers, radio stations etc. already have.
 
#4
Like with any other type of celebrity or popular figure, the obvious answer is yes. Unless you personally know them and interact with them regularly, they are not your friends. They probably don't even know you exist.
 

Bronetta

Ask me about the moon landing or the temperature at which jet fuel burns. You may be surprised at what you learn.
#5
Some people see corporations as their friends.

A fool and his money are soon parted.
 
#9
Like with any other type of celebrity or popular figure, the obvious answer is yes. Unless you personally know them and interact with them regularly, they are not your friends. They probably don't even know you exist.
But I would argue that, compared to normal celebs, it is far easier for normal folks to get in touch with them.
Normal celebs play in a movie, play a role and thats it. YouTubers "talk" to their fanbase, interact with them and usually have a direct connection to viewers.

I don't think it is. I like kinda funny but the whole best friends thing? I mean is Greg going to help me move? Its a gimmick.
I wouldnt actually say "traditional" friends, but more like some kind of "internet friends", young folks can interact with. The young people I know who are into those YT-celebs really talk different than someone talking about Beyoncé or Jennifer Lawrence.
 
#11
Kids just have attachments to things they see and enjoy. They think Dora is their friend, Spider-Man, Batman, all of these characters from entertainment. Ever see a kid freak out when 'Santa' comes to visit? It's just how kids are. The danger isn't the attachment, it's who the attachment is to.
 

JayEH

Junior Member
#12
Yes. Youtubers and streamers, etc. are in this weird position where they are "celebrities" but they still seem like a normal guy in reach for the people watching. You know all these guys try to act like they're a community and what not and how much they care for their subs but people need to realize this is their job, they'll do whatever to make more money. There was that story on Kotaku where this kid came halfway across the world to try to live with his favorite streamer. Unhealthy behavior.
 
#15
I thought this was going to be about how GiantBomb and EasyAllies and many other podcasts are basically "friend simulators".

I don't quite understand why you are framing your point this way, because YT is hardly unique in this respect. What you are describing is a "celebrity" and it also even applies to minor names on social media like twitter and instagram. Also people might also end up being "real life" friends with people who do and believe in racist, etc. things.
 
#17
I cannot remember the source, but I *think* I read an abstract or headline about how TV viewers could start to feel a connection with newsreaders because they were constantly looking them in the eye - the straight to camera work. I think they felt there was some kind of relationship there, when of course there was not. (Perhaps not relationship in the sense we think of it, but pershaps a sense of 'knowing'.)

If you think about it, most TV isn't like that. But if there's any truth in what I read, then we're seeing much more of that eye-contact and people are growing up with it too.
 

BocoDragon

or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Realize This Assgrab is Delicious
#18
It feels like our relationship to TV in the early decades before we all developed a cynical view of TV that even trickled down to kids.
 
#19
This isn't a new thing, people have viewed entertainers this way forever. Kids think Barney is their friend, many felt that way about Mr Rogers, Big Bird, or Mickey Mouse.

Many Adults have viewed talk show hosts like this, Johnny Carson is a prime example.

Is it dangerous? I think it depends on the individual person and how much they allow themselves to be directly influenced by the people they look up to or admire. I think it's far more dangerous how much we build entertainers up to unreasonable heights of flawless perfection and then how crazy people get when it turns out that many of these people are human and have their demons.
 
#23
Yes.

Especially once it reaches the point of people giving them money because they feel it will deepen the bond between them. If you're going to support a creator, it should be because you want to see them succeed and/or are thanking them for what they've given to you, not because you think they're your friend / doing so will make them your friend.

It's hilariously sad to see people donating large chunks of cash to streamers under the premise that they're "bros" or whatever. And it's like, what are these people doing to themselves? What kind of condition are they putting themselves in giving to someone because they're too afraid to try and establish a real life connection and prefer to do so (in vain and superficially) with a popular figure online? Shit's fucked.
 
#24
There was an article not long ago by a YouTuber who found a fan from another country suddenly on his doorstep hoping to stay with him. Yes, this assumption of a personal connection is potentially dangerous, to both sides. Personal investment also makes people ready and willing to blindly defend the indefensible and turn a blind eye to abuse and bigotry, or worse. This is not a healthy trend.
 
#26
I think it can be ya. Definitely feel their needs to be a barrier between Youtubers and fans. Like you sometimes here shit about fans going to Youtubers homes and stuff cause they think their "friends" and that it's ok, when obliviously it's not fucking cool.
 
#27
There was an article not long ago by a YouTuber who found a fan from another country suddenly on his doorstep hoping to stay with him. Yes, this assumption of a personal connection is potentially dangerous, to both sides. Personal investment also makes people ready and willing to blindly defend the indefensible and turn a blind eye to abuse and bigotry, or worse. This is not a healthy trend.
I suppose it's not really equivalent, but there's a story relating to one of the earliest Let's Plays, the Freelance Astronauts' Majora's Mask from 2007. Can't remember the video where it's explained.

For several of their videos, they had a guest who went by Doomisland. Apparently he saw their first videos and met them at a goon meet (Something Awful forums member event) in Boston. They said something like "you can just show up and do some videos if you want", and then he ended up doing exactly that. They didn't even know his real name.
 
#29
Familiarity is not friendship but it's engenders similar feelings, which can be dangerous if perspective is lost.

Unfortunately, perspective is frequently lost.
 
#33
It's not dangerous, I actually have some online personalities I feel very close to due to the personal nature of their content.

What IS dangerous is blindly being loyal to someone, that includes your friends. Even my best friends will hear me call them out on their bullshit if they say or do something dumb. I am honest and stand up to them because I care and want them to be the best they can be.

People need to take that approach to their friends and also to their online idols/mentors. Just because you align yourself with them doesn't mean you can't draw a line when things go sideways.
 
#35
It's not dangerous, I actually have some online personalities I feel very close to due to the personal nature of their content.

What IS dangerous is blindly being loyal to someone, that includes your friends. Even my best friends will hear me call them out on their bullshit if they say or do something dumb. I am honest and stand up to them because I care and want them to be the best they can be.

People need to take that approach to their friends and also to their online idols/mentors. Just because you align yourself with them doesn't mean you can't draw a line when things go sideways.
Thats the "adult way" of thinking though, but a lot of YouTube channels demographic is a younger one.
 
#36
They're not my friends?! :biblethump:

I don't know if it's a problem. Many feel similarly or as strongly towards musicians, actors, athletes, etc. Not in the same way one would feel towards a "friend," but just as zealous and perhaps even more so.
 
#37
While not about YouTube, this story is relevant. A popular Twitch streamer was shocked when a young person from Singapore arrived at his doorstep. This kid thought he could live with the Twitch streamer because he felt some sort of connection.

https://kotaku.com/when-fans-take-their-love-for-twitch-streamers-too-far-1794815112

“Hello,” Ellohime responded. “Hello?” the stranger said, his voice shaky and thin. It took a few more back-and-forth responses before Ellohime realized the guy at the door wasn’t saying “Hello.” He was saying “Ello.” This was a fan.

By now, his fiancée was awake. Ellohime ran up the stairs to the second floor, where he could see down to the front porch. “I saw a very small, skinny kid,” he says. “His face was all red.” He walked downstairs again and, speaking through the door, asked him where he came from and what he wanted. Nervous, his fiancée stood behind him.

The fan had flown in from Singapore that night. He walked the 25 miles from the airport to the house, with his luggage, in the cool December weather. He wanted to stay there, with his favorite streamer.
 
#41
But I would argue that, compared to normal celebs, it is far easier for normal folks to get in touch with them.
Normal celebs play in a movie, play a role and thats it. YouTubers "talk" to their fanbase, interact with them and usually have a direct connection to viewers.
So do politicians. Doesn't mean they're your friends.

Look, if they're advancing their life off of you--whether that be your money, vote, or just giving them attention--you shouldn't see them as your friends. You can care about them, talk to them even, but don't assume they deeply care for you as a friend would just because they acknowledge your existence.
 
#42
People have been 'connecting' with idiots they don't know for centuries.

Hero worship in the past. Presenting some partially-understood thing as being worthy of praise. Only difference is now the hero can pretend to connect back. I don't think that faked connection is as meaningful as you might fear.
 
#44
Some subset of the public has been thinking of celebrities/entertainers as their personal friends for as long as there's been famous people.
 
#45
I don't really think that idiots defending PDP or daddy of five or whoever would be the best catalyst for this discussion. People defending the use of the n-word are either:

1) kids who don't know any better and will be forced to change as they grow, or

2) people who have always used the n word behind closed doors.

...But I do think it would be an interesting discussion nonetheless.

It's no more dangerous than it's ever been...it's just easier to fall in that danger now more than ever, I think. Especially for younger and more lonely audiences.
 

Easy_D

never left the stone age
#46
It's not INHERENTLY dangerous. A lot of children's programming aims to create a friendly bond between the child and the host of the show, especially in the type of programs that aim be educational.

However, with how shitty YouTubers in general are and the type of behaviour they promote and normalize it can definitely be a bad thing. So basically it depends on the context.