Like many of you, I've been watching the YouTube beauty community for even longer than I've been blogging, which is over five years now. I've seen YouTube videos morph from poorly-lit phone camera clips shot in one's bedroom to professionally produced and edited short movies with sophisticated backgrounds and props, just as I've seen blogs go from simple online diaries with shaky shots and ernest ramblings to elaborate websites with magazine-style spreads and sentences fully resembling ad copy. That's the way of things: I know it, you know it, I've written about it before.
What I haven't written about before is the YouTube and blog celebrity culture that's quickly expanding beyond my wildest imagination. It's a lot more apparent on YouTube, where you can watch hundreds of vlogs from conventions like VidCon, BeautyCon or IMATS, in which half-crazed teens and pre-teens wait for hours in a line to catch a glimpse of their favorite vlogger, and who scream and cry with abandon when the moment comes. On Instagram and Twitter, fans fight for who can have the right to claim the first comment, or the first like. Young girls and boys follow their guru's every step, every word, every recommendation. Yes, my dear readers - YouTubers and beauty bloggers are veritable celebrities these days.
And I'm really not a fan of this new celebrity culture. Granted, that's something deeply ingrained in my personality; I've just never been much of a fan of anything or anyone (well, maybe with the exception of Spice Girls in elementary school), and the older I get, the more wicked pleasure I get from doing the exact opposite of what's currently trending. But I absolutely don't mind that there are people out there who enjoy being part of the fan club, and get some happiness and excitement from following their idol, of which I'm reminded every night, when I can hear cheers through our windows from people gathered around the actors' entrance at a Broadway theatre opposite our apartment building. What I do mind is the inherent hypocrisy of being part of the YouTube celebrity culture in particular.
Bloggers and vloggers are respected and trusted by the virtue of being just regular folk, exactly like you and me, only passionate to share their lives with other people out there. They're not royalty, they're not multimillionaires, they're not with the glamorous crowd. They're your everyman, or everywoman, and since they're just like you, they've become a good friend - someone to catch up with and spend some time every day, someone to listen to and someone to take advice from, someone who loves you and wants you to be happy. Right?
Wrong. These days, the assumption that popular bloggers and vloggers are just like you couldn't be further from the truth. Their lives have ceased to be normal the moment they stepped on that stage to wave to thousands of ecstatic fans, the moment they got a manager, the moment they sat on a plane to Ibiza/Dubai/Los Angeles to take part in a brand's newest ad campaign, the moment they're sent expensive gifts just to consider endorsing a certain product. Again, I don't begrudge any of their success or their life choices, just like it doesn't bother me which Hollywood couple just got a divorce, or how much Tom Cruise has spent on his mansion. It's just something that goes on somewhere in the world, and I'm so far removed from it that it's not even a part of my 'normal' life.
So while I do understand that celebrities, be it YouTube or otherwise, are not just like you and me and really are not my friends, I'm really not sure the teenage crowd is even remotely aware of the fact. It struck me especially hard recently as I was watching a successful YouTuber's fashion and beauty video for back to school. Really, doesn't it seem odd to take tips on how to get ready for school from someone who's been out of school for probably over five years now, earns her own very good money, and uses the video as an opportunity to promote a certain brand?
But that's not even the gist of it - it's the skewed image of reality that these bloggers and vloggers picture in their videos and blog posts. The reality in which you need a 20-minute make-up and hair routine to get ready for high school, the reality in which you do a full Kim Kardashian contouring and false lash application for a movie date with your boyfriend, the reality in which your morning consists of pressing a button on a Keurig to make a cup of coffee in your spotless expensive kitchen, prancing around in cute pjs and taking at least an hour to get ready for a brunch with friends. I'm sorry, but it is not MY reality, or even the reality of 98% of people out there, including these innocent kids watching on their laptop screens, pinning for the day they're all grown up and perfect like their idols.
You may say that watching YouTube videos and reading blog posts is pure escapism, it's just a way to forget about your own troubled life for a little while, to feast your eyes on things that are flawless, happy, and beautiful, and just right. But coming from bloggers and vloggers who used to be just like you, I feel that the line between reality and make belief is especially blurry, and maybe even invisible to the ever younger audiences.
I don't know - maybe not. Maybe I'm just getting old, and I find the 'things the kids are up to these days' increasingly annoying. What really gets me going is being told by a successful, popular, fully made-up adult businesswoman pulling cutesy faces and pretending to be awkward but adorable at the same time that it's a-okay to be 'a weirdo' like she is - just be yourself! I guess I find it especially infuriating to be fed such trivial bullshit in a phony, saccharine, fakely friendly fashion. Or maybe I've just outgrown YouTube?