Why I Quit YouTube

Why I Quit YouTube

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(heart beating) (Dan breathing heavily) - Hello internet. Look who remembered his bloody password. Right, I've got a white piece of paper behind me, an uncomfortable red chair, and an agenda.

Let's do this. Being a YouTuber, the 21st century dream. Rich, famous, an army of devout followers to tell you you're perfect, doing what you want, when you want, with all the digital dopamine you could ever ask. You can be a doctor saving lives, or even teacher shaping them, hell, even being an actor or a model. That's old news. Mom, I wanna be an influencer.

What's the content? Who cares. And this guy was living the dream. You want a hug? - Yes. - Yes. Got any lesbians out? Okay. (audience cheering) He had it all until one day, he just disappeared. And so the question that caused concern, probably a bit of celebration and a ton of conspiracy videos is why did Dan Howell quit YouTube? (dramatic music) Oh, this is just in.

The internet's most mysterious bitch has done it again. Who spends a year making a coming out video, gets 10 million views, and fucking dips? What a mad lad. Yes, I am a mad lad.

I've had terrible mental health struggles. Well, I'm back on my bullshit, so clench your butt cheeks. This is a cautionary tale about fame, followers, community, culture, the clash between making content and being content, and being careful what you wish for because one day, you will absolutely have a complete breakdown. But first, we have to understand how the hell we got here. In the beginning. (upbeat music) YouTube, Broadcast Yourself.

A motto and a mission statement that the gatekeepers of the worlds media were no more. The moment the internet made media social, the game changed forever. Thanks to the world wide web, anyone, anywhere, with an internet connection stable enough to upload can share their story, whether that's a day at the zoo, the Pokemon theme, or the evolution of dance. Share it with the world, baby. So there I was in 2005, a kid wasting his whole damn life watching YouTube.

Good times. Well, they weren't. They were terrible, but procrastinating is fun.

Fuck TV and all those crusty olds. On this website, there's cool, young, funny people being crazy. I wanna watch that. Ryan Higa, Smosh, HotForWords, Fred, charlieissocoollike, Community Channel, Mixed Bag, good times.

YouTube wasn't even a big deal on the internet. It was niche. To most people around the world back then, it was that website where you look at cats, or old ladies falling down the stairs. The idea that people actually tried to make stuff for it sounds kinda lame. It was a commune of geeky wannabe sketch comedians, film makers and video bloggers that could afford webcams and broadband just trying to make friends.

And I always fantasized, "What if I did that, made a funny little video, put some sound effects it, did a load of crazy jump cuts every other word for some fucking reason?" It would just be fun. Fun to express myself, just share it with my school friends. No purpose, no goal, just a radical urge to create.

And then one day, an amazing guy named Phil said, "Well, go on then, do it." "Wait, I could be a YouTuber?" (Dan gasping) Literally anyone can be a YouTuber. And lo, we have the worst fucking video on the website. Hi. So my name is...

You know, hall of fame, peak cringe. Go laugh at me. I don't care anymore. It's beaten to death. I'm completely dead inside.

I've been on a journey, okay. It's called growing. This wasn't my future, it was a hobby. My future, I decided, was going to law school 'cause there was no money in YouTube back then.

So I needed a real job. Now, being a lawyer wasn't my dream. My dream my entire childhood was to be an actor, but dreams don't actually come true, and I'm an uninteresting average person.

So why even have authentic aspirations, right? No, let's just quit before we start and aim for the career my grandad wanted me to have. Oh, how innocent this hobby was, just writing and filming little videos about procrastinating, or dropping things. There were no ads, no sponsorships, no drama, just completely pointless creativity and community.

Pure, honest, mostly terrible art, some would say this was golden age of YouTube, and I loved it. Oh, how things changed. (laughing menacingly) (upbeat music) Like everything on earth, YouTube got bought by a huge corporation. This one was Google. And in 10 years, there will be no nations or creeds.

We will be divided into the great five factions of Google, Apple, Disney, Amazon, and probably Roblox. I'm putting my money on Roblox as the apex dystopian tech company that will win World War IV with it's army of hyper intelligent children. The first partner program predates this. And teen Dan was an envious viewer that was quite resentful of people having fun and earning more than I did at ASDA, But now, it was full on Google adsense. This was legit.

Look, "Oh, YouTube changed when it became about the money." I mean, yeah. But at the same time, people gotta eat okay. It was a pretty cool thing that anyone could do something that they hopefully loved for a job.

But it does hit different 'cause suddenly, people that aren't in it for the community are attracted for the cash, and the people that were in it have the insidious corrupting allure of a shiny new golden carrot to chase. In our current influencer nightmare dimension, it's relatively accessible for anyone to make some money using their talents online. And there is this pressure to seize the opportunity and monetize your hobbies. Have a work/life balance, or passions for the sake of it. Not any more in our unfair stressful society. If you see a step up to the next level, you're gonna swim towards it.

Get that culture hustling. "I love gaming, so I guess I should to become a streamer and only game for other people's enjoyment." "I love drawing, so I guess I should run a patreon drawing, lewd and legally contentious furry hentai." "I love making bead art.

Now I have an etsy empire worth $12 billion. And every time I close my eyes, I see beads. The beads, the beads! They used to my happiness, my escape.

Now they control my life. Free me from the beads." Oh shit, I got accepted into the YouTube partner program. Time think about this differently 'cause now, it's about the money. I was never a high flyer 'cause it turns out to make a killing with ads, you actually need to upload videos. Huh? And being literally the worst YouTuber in the entire world, at my peak on one 5-minute video every other week, that's not gonna keep up with the gamer posting three 40-minute videos a day.

So basically, I'm like a musician giving away my content for free on streaming platforms hoping desperately that one person will be interested enough to come see me on tour or get some merch. So seriously, thank you to the ones who did that. Honestly, I've never been totally motivated by money. Okay, just a bit.

I like to think of success as three different motivations. There's probably more, and someone smarter has done this. But I'm a simple bitch, okay? So this is how I think, money, attention, and respect. How much money do you wanna make? Do you wanna be rich no matter the moral outrage, or happy to get by just getting by? How well known do you wanna be? Do you just wanna be famous? Doesn't matter if you have no friends, no financial stability, or no future, just give me the followers now, or is that absolutely not what you desire? Do you value respect? Whatever you do, you wanna do it with integrity, so your friends, family, peers think you are a good person genuinely trying their best and contributing to the world.

Honestly, I'm bang in the middle. I like attention, okay, but only the good kind. "Can I just have everyone like me and no one being mean please?" I hate capitalism, but I want my own money.

My family doesn't have money, so I've got nothing fall back on. And my Batman origin story, whacky, traumatizing, queer childhood, I need financial independence so I never have to regress back to a life where I live in fear that I can't be myself. That's my whole revenge power fantasy. But my biggest flaw is I do care what people think, and I have a conscience.

Life would be much better if was a total sociopath. But no, I stay awake at night thinking about whether I committed click bait once with a thumbnail 11 years ago. You can do this little exercise to judge your motivations, or apply it to what your job can give you.

But YouTube, that's a free platform man. You can do whatever you want with as much integrity as you so nobly aspire. But when money and fame is on the table, how long would you stay true? Good luck. I already did my evil laugh for the day.

It was happening. I was making videos about annoying pricks in the cinema, annoying pricks walking around town. People really love being angry, and I was making money, like dozens of pounds weekly, which, when you're a student is a big fucking deal. And I didn't like being a student. Why do coursework about contracts when you could make a video about catfishing people as a guinea pig on Grindr.

It was fun, funny, genuinely cathartic, and just a hobby, right? But then, I had the choice to make. Would I fight against my doubting instinct and dare to dream? Could I take this to the next level and risk it all? Fuck yeah, school's boring. So I made the choice that any aspiring internet careerist, be they YouTuber, streamer, esports pro has to face one day. I took my student loan, that had already crippled me with debt, and dropped out of college, then made a video about being a college dropout. And none of you thought it was a good idea.

Seriously, I thought my own fucking subscribers and other creators would be supportive, but they were like, "Yo, not saying you're not good, but that's like definitely a choice, and maybe not the smart one, but GL." Moved to London, terrible idea. The rent was extortionate and morally reprehensible.

#Killalllandlords. With YouTube, a show on BBC Radio 1, various gigs, a web series, and cereal advert, that at the time, I was just like, "Lol, okay." But in hindsight, I probably wouldn't promote a cereal. #Bigsugar. I still couldn't pay the damn rent.

What the fuck? I was legitimately living with chronic stress. I couldn't sleep, I didn't eat, which is weird for me. I spent every waking hour working out of sheer terror.

I had no life, but this was the life I signed up for. People said I wasn't making enough content, comparing me to people that film challenge videos in one take. I'm not painting any church ceilings over here, but trying to write something good, film sketches, attempt effects.

And you can't force creativity. How long does it take to write a funny 5-minute video? Up to an infinite amount of time. I attempted a weekly schedule, and I just couldn't come up with ideas and execute them that fast. I was drowning.

The commenters and my grandad were right, this was a terrible idea. This YouTube thing isn't even gonna last. It's just a trend. Its gonna implode any minute, and my shot at being a successful normie was ruined. But then it happened, the great British vlogger boom of 2013.

- [Woman] Look at that. - Basically, social media happened, Facebook, Twitter, Insta, Tumblr. New users looking for content, and I just happened to already be there. Bam, 1 million subscribers. Now, one of humanity's favorite activities is to play the classic game, do they deserve it? Did they earn it, or not? And we should destroy them. Could I get one more triangle? Okay.

How did they get there? Was it talent, hard work, or luck? Use this triangle to tear down every last proud pillock on a pedestal. Argue amongst yourselves. Dan Howell, is he talented? Did he put in the graft, or did he just get lucky, that stupid curly haired cun...?

The truth is, for making it as a YouTuber, or any ephemeral over aspired career like sports, acting, modeling, and various other things that will not be needed in society after the inevitable collapse, you actually need all three. I think the depressing truth is it doesn't matter how talented you are if you don't commit to the grind, or how much you grind if you don't actually have any talent, or if you don't just get lucky one day, get that viral video, get raided by that big streamer, get spotted on the streets of New York and whisked away to Hollywood, or networking and nepotism. Have you tried having rich or well-connected parents? No matter how you rate me, I feel I've been lucky. But in case anyone's still feeling resentful, pitchforks down.

Don't worry, I am a genuinely miserable fuck that is so inherently eeyore processing a trench of trauma so deep I'll die by the time I learn to just chill the fuck out. So I'm doing that for you. So you've made it. You're paying the bills.

You are a big YouTuber. Everything's great now, right? Well, riddle me this, Watson, why the fuck do so many YouTubers end up crying on main, not even on side channel, on main? Doth the great chalice of content perhaps have a poisoned rim? I just laughed at the word rim. Hi, yes, I am 30 years old with the facial structure and sense of humor of a 13-year-old. Here you are, a creator, creating what you want.

It is what you want, right? Or now, are you doing what you think your audience wants? No matter how much you tell yourself this is what you are doing, and why, and you are sticking to your guns, you can't help but notice what resonates with people if talking about your passion for engineering is trickling along, and then one day, you accidentally flash your ass crack in a mirror and get twice the views. You will start an OnlyFans, don't lie to me. And the problem is when you hone in on that and start to only create what you think the followers want, you think no one wants the real you, and if you don't keep them happy, they will come with the pitchforks. And for me, the fork in the road was, "Am I Dan the edgy little British boy trying to do comedy, or am I Dan from "Dan and Phil", the still very sarcastic but seemingly happy guy that makes relatively wholesome videos with his friend?" The thing is I was both. It's not like one was good and the other was bad, as they both had ups and downs. Sure, when I write stuff, sometimes it's relatable or funny.

And if I'm passionate, it may even be helpful or important, which is nice. But I definitely used to put on a sometimes ugly front of cynical aggression that was me basically trying to fit in with the angry boys that I was always afraid of, and influenced by the style of all the 2000's British comedians that were fucking mean. And that was the culture I was born out of. It's simultaneously who I am, and who I was afraid I had to be.

When I was goofing around with Phil, sometimes it looked vapid and pointless, like we were intentionally acting up for an audience. But really, that's just what we were like. We just had fun, and we didn't care who was watching. We were genuinely just entertaining ourselves. And whilst this wasn't my passion, it was fun. And the thing is "Dan and Phil" was good.

I get it, if you are someone that never watched the videos, maybe just heard about it and thought it was annoying, but the real ones, they know. If you were there watching, we did some real good, funny original shit, showcased a different side of masculinity, and it brightened up people's days. And in a way, that felt more validating than what I do solo because it was bigger than me. But it looked and felt like I was two different YouTubers on the same channel, and I was constantly torn between the enthusiastically, all caps, "Dan and Phil" fans who only wanted that, and the Dan subscribers that were here for comedy, not this gay shit. And sometimes, it felt like they both hated me because I wasn't doing what they wanted.

Another thing to be stressed about. But then, there were the majority of chill, regular people that probably just enjoyed it. "Oh, it's YouTube. It's not a big deal, hi." Anyone with an audience will have this internal battle of trying to stay true to yourself, keep the people who have given you everything happy and keeping your head above the water. And my foundations were slowly eroding as I sunk into the sea.

Now, I can tell you for a fact every single YouTuber is traumatized by trolls. Every single one, even if they are old YouTubers, respectable, edgy as fuck, or a fucking anime avatar, I would see them drinking in the corner of a convention with a haunted look on their face and ask, "Hey, what's up? Why do you look like me? No one should look like me." Resting sad face.

And they would cry, "One Instagram comment said, "I preferred your last haircut." This applies to every creator, celebrity, or person who had a viral post and is suddenly getting random attention. Negativity bias, the bad shit stands out. We presume people will act cordial like normal society in theory. But obviously, on the internet, people are ungiveashitably toxic because we're all miserable and slapping someone down a step let's us wallow in the swamp of suffering together.

But seriously you could read 1,000 comments of people saying, "You're beautiful. You're perfect. You look like old sad Wilbur Soot.

You're a model." But after putting everything into a video for days. And 10 seconds after upload, one person says, "I preferred your last video."

Devastation, weeks of sadness. And so, it's only natural to take that 1 in a thousand comment and scale it up to everyone hates me. I always told other people it's an iceberg. You're focusing on the frosty tip, when the entire majority of your audience, any given community, hopefully, humanity in general? Are not the ones you see acting up. They're just silently vibing. So here's a toast to the lurkers, the silent subscribers, the ones who watch but never comment, you keep the world going around, and you get to wash your hands of all this fucking drama.

Truly, you are the only winners in this foul game. So yeah, "Dan and Phil" "Dan and Phil" fans were a thing. I honestly put peak fandom on a mount Rushmore of terrifyingly powerful internet fandoms with Twilight, BTS, anime, Rick and Morty, in that just as a by product of doing their own thing, they accidentally terrorized the rest of the internet. There was not a community in a cozy corner or trending topic that was safe from one of these monolithic machines storming the comments swallowing any innocent dwellers into the depths. I felt like an internet Godzilla. Everywhere I went, I couldn't help but crush things under my feet.

I couldn't go to look at something I enjoyed without setting it on fire, or hitting it with my tail. I get, it's slightly annoying trying to just use the internet, or get some McDonald's when you aren't part of one of these groups, but is it really that bad? I mean, people are just having fun. Here's my hot take. Let people have fun.

It's okay, we're all old now. I don't care if you're 10. It's about emotional weariness. You're old now, we survived, mostly. You watched my pre-roll ads, I spent that money on therapy.

It kind of worked out, whatever. Phil and I spent years making stuff together, stuff deliberately just to celebrate the audience. We did almost everything we could have wanted as a duo. Now, we have our own aspirations, but this is where it's weird 'cause, obviously, we are still real people today outside of content making. But don't worry, we'll always pop up together when you least expect or want it.

It was a riot, but it was intense. And all the support and enthusiasm, I've always appreciated to the side, as we know from Danny's Bizarre Gay Adventure, having a lot of people trying to speculate and expose your sexuality for lols when you're a closeted death defier isn't great. I almost didn't enjoy any of it as I was living in absolute fear of being outed all the time. This great lie was a wall up preventing me from forming any real relationships. But it's fine.

It kind of worked out, whatever. Every single person on earth has parasocial relationships with the people we don't know in real life but see often on our screens. Our favorite TV hosts, radio DJs, dog grooming TikTokers, we feel familiar with them, and this is natural. It's not inherently evil. It's just what happens. The tricky part is when you are the one on the other end.

How much do you open up? Are you there just to do your job and give people content, or is your Twitter for saying what's really on your mind, your Instagram for showing where you are and what you're up to? Is a vlog a creative video blog where you talk about a topic, or is it a literal video of your day, and you are the star of your own digital reality show? What's the line between sharing funny stories and sharing your real relationships, getting people invested in the story of your life like soap opera? So when life changes for you, people come and go, the audience is angry that you've ruined their favorite show. Sometimes, it seems like you're just there to be a sims family, playing house. The journey of your channel isn't growing your creative style, it's playing the game of life in public.

You want some hit content, get married, have kids, get a dog, do life, do it all, do it right now as hard and fast as you can until your feet set on fire, and we all laugh when it spectacularly burns to the ground. Okay, a bit fucking dramatic. You can just share what you want, set your own boundaries. But again, different audiences want different things, and you can't please them all. So you've just got to do what you want, and accept you can't make everyone happy all the time, which I couldn't, and it really bothered me. But I was still enjoying the money and the attention, and, oh, the respect sometimes when I did something good occasionally.

But success on YouTube isn't as simple as making good content and success coming to you because life isn't fair, and nevermind luck being against you. For all the benefits of this wild west of freedom YouTube, there is a higher power, an unknowable and uncontrollable force that has the power to make and break kings, to giveth and taketh away, to demonetize your videos if you say something gay, the algorithm. (gentle music) Come here, get closer. Not that close. So you wanna know the secret, the life-hack? How to be the next Mr. Beast?

Well, it's time to play a game. Since the days of "Charlie Bit My Finger", which has since been sold as an NFT and deleted, I welcome the apocalypse, succeeding on youtube has been about playing the game. In the early days, the key to getting on the front page was awards for being the most viewed, most commented, most liked that day, ergo smash that motherfucking like and get me on that homepage. Beg, borrow, steal, conspire, do whatever you can to mobilize your subscribers to get you in that box so you can finally break out. But the grand prize was being featured. You're in the big box now, buddy.

Suddenly millions of total fucking weirdos, honestly, the YouTube viewers were seemingly nearly all 50-year-old neckbeard mouth breathers leaving the weirdest comments, but the views could change your life. How did you get here? Well, an employee at YouTube literally just decided. Yeah, just a person who logged in one day went, "That one," and had the power to completely change your life. And so the news spread that you needed to identify this person, tip thy hat at m'lady, butter them up, become buddies and be in the box. I know this because half of my colleagues did it. I know the person that did it, then it was trending, a bundle of views, engagement, virility, momentum.

But the homepage wasn't a big deal anymore because as soon as the great controversial switch from your subscription feed to recommended videos took place, the question became who is recommending, or should I say what. The thing with the algorithm is literally no one understands exactly what it does. - I tired to understand it, but... - It's a program that learns what keeps you on this app, never to switch, trapped in an endless doom scroll, as opposed to all the other doom scrolls. Just here, sit, stay. A certain amount of it is obvious.

Oh, this video has lots of views, lots of likes, lots of comments, lots of shares, people that watch it go on to watch other videos, this video was a gateway drug that got people to fall into the swirling black hole of entertainment. And without knowing the secret formula, the best advice is simply to optimize the shit out of everything you can, for if you aren't as streamlined as a beluga whale covered in lube wearing wave runners, you're just letting yourself down. So let's get optimized. Tags, just put every tag, doesn't have to be relevant.

Your cupcake tutorial, boobs, love, money, cash, crypto, Hillary Clinton, Johnny Depp, drama, tea, English breakfast tea, World War III, the dinosaur that says yee. Watch time, the longer the videos, the more you're keeping people on YouTube. Turn that snappy 5-minute sketch into a self-indulgent feature length trial.

Just make sure it's over 8 minutes so you can put that second ad on the end. Oh, what's that? Your content takes time and you only make one a month? Then yes, you will always be prioritized less than "Minecraft" players. Got a problem? Go somewhere else. Oh wait, there is nowhere else. Clickbait, 90% of success on YouTube has always just been about the title and the thumbnail. That's the truth, man.

It doesn't matter what your content is, as long as you are vaguely interesting enough to keep people watching until it counts as a view, do whatever it takes. I know I've had videos that could have had millions more views if I didn't give them obtuse thematic names trying to not be too annoying. Then we have this shit.

In the early days, every YouTuber on the homepage literally just put censored porn screenshots in thumbnails and titled them "Blonde Babe Action". The message was literally attracting confused old men is more important than making good content. The founder of YouTube, yeah, the zoo guy, said that the original inspiration for the site was to have a place that made it easier to find and upload videos of Janet Jackson's boob slip. That is the big bang origin story of this website.

Always has been. You might think, "Oh, I'm not gonna do all the typical end of YouTuber video shit, that's cringe." But if the stats told you that no one does it unless you ask and this is your one chance in life, would you resist? Ads, you got your pre roll, your post roll, your randomly suggested mid roll, in line, tru view. And everyone's favorite conspiracy question, "Does the algorithm favor videos that are monetized?" Because you might be the most socialist, crowdfunded creator in the revolution, but what if it's true and the algorithm demands those dollars? Well, enjoy the ad. Sorry, I just presume an ad played there, unless this was demonetized, which I think it will be. Is that true though, or is monetized content simply more likely to be successful, and you just gave me 0.002 pence for no reason?

Causation, correlation, conspiracy, comme ci, comme ca. And as we all know, with that one 3-second clip of a dog doing something weird in the middle of night uploaded 12 years ago that suddenly, everyone on earth gets recommended at the same time, the algorithm will just shower random shit in riches. There are some YouTubers that are not extra special, that the algorithm will rocket boost to tens of millions of views, and some OG YouTubers that have been putting in the hard work and talent for years suddenly wake up, and they've been cut in half. You can see, suddenly, overnight for no reason, the algorithm decided to take a pound of flesh. And I can't live like that. I think I've been lucky considering how fucking mouthy I've always been.

But how can you get invested in this platform when you know you're at the mercy of this algorithm? This being said, a lot of people put a lot effort into optimization, and their content is just bad. They got all the equipment, the design get it looking fresh and clean, but don't worry about what they're actually making and why people would watch. You can optimize the fuck out of some water, but if a horse is lead up to it and it smells bad, the water will not be consumed, and presumably, the horse also dies of dehydration. This is quite upsetting. Basically, just try your best to make good shit, and pray the robot likes you. But the real terror is not the recommended algorithm, it's the shadowy faceless program that at the firing of a line of code could make your entire life vanish.

Content ID can accidentally claim someone's life. And then you have to battle in a review as someone could be making money off your content until you win it back. You could be reacting in fair use, and suddenly, bam, the entire shop gets shut. I'm using clips in this, and it's fair use, but I know any content owners management system could block this any minute, and this is important to me. That's terrifying. Then there's demonetization.

Being demonestized for a small creator who has staked their life on this platform is a real nightmare. And as we know, because of various adpocalypses, record label protests and scandals, YouTube will, perhaps understandably, stay on the side of playing it safe because this whole thing could come tumbling down, which we don't want. So there are a lot of reasons that your revenue could go bye-bye. If you discuss anything controversial, if you swear too much, mainly in the first 10 or 30 seconds I hear. Like if I said, "Hello, fuck internet."

Too much flesh or beige clothing on display. Sorry, the system thinks your arm is a butt, boop. Or apparently gay shit, cause for a while saying "Happy lesbian family," was interpreted as, "Ah yes, lesbians. That is porn for the straights." My gay video got demonetized.

I mean, I didn't wanna monetize it, but they didn't give me an option. And who knows, was it because I talked about gay trauma and death, and no one in their right mind would wanna run ads on that, or perhaps because I said fuck over 30 times, and that was reduced. The first time I read the script, it had 67 fucks in it, which is roughly 1.5 fucks per minute. I probably just need to tone it the fuck down. Stephen Fry once said, "It would be impossible to imagine going through life without swearing, and without enjoying swearing. The sort of twee person who thinks swearing is in any way a sign of a lack of education or a lack of verbal interest is just a fucking lunatic."

I agree, you beautiful bastard, but fair play if that's not brand friendly. And look, I know it's fun to be mad, but YouTube is not homophobic. Google doesn't hate the gays.

Basically, everyone that works for Google is gay. They're called Gayglers, which is much worse than being homophobic in my opinion. And from a corporate perspective, look, as long as the queers stay on the right side of capitalism, we're allowed to live.

That's how pride works these days. YouTube said they didn't make the list of demonetizable terms. The program simply learns what is appropriate, and will, hopefully, get less accidentally bad over time.

But I mean, when have you seen an AI become nicer over time? I'm sure it will. There is no alternative. There's too many videos, too many infringements, too high stakes. They've already got manual reviewers, and I can't even fathom how that's possible.

To the manual reviewer of this video, hi, hope you're having a nice day, and I'm sorry for generally everything. So honestly, putting the pitchforks down, people at YouTube care about creators and the community, and they're trying their best. But living under the gaze of an all-powerful program that could snap your neck at any moment is scary. It's uncomfortable, it freaks me out and makes me want to jump ship. So if you manage to get an in with YouTube, a real human connection in this digital fortress, you better milk those mammaries until mommy YouTube loves you 'cause in this scary sandbox, you need all the special treatment you can get. The absolute best thing about YouTube for me has been the partner team.

Believe me when I say the community reps, the partner managers are people that genuinely love YouTube and YouTubers. They wouldn't transfer from the Google doodle team if they didily didn't. I know it's popular to think YouTube is so out of touch with a big, evil scheme, but no.

Most of them want it to be a good, enjoyable website for the viewers, and for the creators to be happy. Sure, this is a business. So guess what, the direction of the company is gonna favor whatever provides the most value for Alphabet shareholders, duh. Don't hate the player, get out the guillotine.

I'm sure it is stressful when the business side butts heads with the buddy side, and both of them get crushed by the legal side, but the way YouTube is ran is just society, man. And we really do be living in one. And I guess I'm grateful YouTube's even generous to share 55% of earnings with creators, and not just give them 10,000th of a slice of £3.50 like some other apps. So slap my salami and call me a simp. It is never as simple as some people think. But you know what they say, it's about who know, not what you make.

So any time YouTube reached out to me to participate in something for them, I ran up and wagged my tail like a good little boy. Interview the future king in the YouTube space, do a interview with Susan, show all the brands how cool you are to advertise on at. #Brandcast. Share your harrowing journey through depression to an audience of bored politicians at #youtubeonstage to showcase the classy side of the community. Do YouTube rewind, even if you know it's cringe. All the dancing, no jokes, no irony, just pure, expensive, international cringe.

- "Fortnite". - But I fucking did it 'cause I'm a good little boy who knows how to roll over. (dog barking) What will this achieve for you really, tangibly? Will being an insider save you from the mysterious code overlords? Who knows.

But people having my back in this battle royal survivor simulator pretending to be an entertainment platform feels too important to risk going without. So stand to attention and be ready to serve. I am grateful. And then there's the graphs.

The death of art is graphs. What if I told you that with one simple click, you could see the truth, the numbers, the very statistics that are the building blocks of this world we call YouTube? If you take the blue pill, you can continue to live in ignorance, creating and sharing content on your terms, blissfully unaware of the why. But if you take the red pill, you can see how deep the analytics go, power, and control you could never imagine, but do you dare? Can you handle the truth? Welcome to YouTube creator studio. It is brilliant and terrifying how much information YouTube gives you about your content and your audience, who they are, where they are, how old they are, how long they watched for, what they like, what they don't like, what they smell like. Feeling scared yet? You should be, and that's why this video is sponsored by NordVPN.

I'm just kidding. Who the fuck would sponsor this shit? This week, you got 20% more views, 10% less subscribers, 3.2% higher watch time, and a super chat, nice. TV people would literally kill for this information so they could build the perfect content in a lab and keep you trapped starting at a box consuming forever.

But this can be overwhelming. I guess this comes down to personal differences. A lot of tech YouTubers I know are obsessed with the graphs and watching live stats, swapping out thumbnails, A/B testing, and always chasing that optimization. But if you are making a video from the heart, if you are truly expressing yourself and have put everything into it and you love it because it's good and you've tried your best, and then you are greeted with a wall of red lines saying, "Sorry, nobody likes this, sweetie.

Try again next time." Soul destroying. When you upload your best performing video out of 10, you get celebratory confetti. Oh my god, all this fucking dopamine and everything's great.

But if you do literally anything less than a new best record every single time, sorry, you get the bad graph today. Log off, loser. Again sorry, quite dramatic.

But Jesus, this is horrible for your mental health. Don't shove it in our faces when we're just going in to fix a typo in the link to our Insta profiles. There are no analytics for how much people laughed at your video, for how informative it is, how many minds you changed, or lives you saved, or how many people you inspired, motivated, or just improved their day. When the only measure of success is engagement and money, the game becomes about appealing to emotions no matter what, drama, fear, greed, those base human instincts.

If you look at publicly funded kids TV, their job is to make the best, nicest content for shaping young minds. That's how we have Arthur the mother fucking ardvark and Duggee the dog. That shits' lit. When you look at what children-targeted content the YouTube community creates, oh it's bad baby egg surprise, toys, Spiderman, daddy money, food, brother, lol slime, glitter, egg, school, surprise mommy, fighting toys, sparkling new egg, opening baby surprise, glitter, egg, surprise, baby, daddy, Spiderman, surprise, baby, egg, toy, surprise, egg.

Is this the primordial truth? Is this what we are, what the human brain wants to see? What are we? We're monsters. I can never unsee what the algorithm has shown me. I don't wanna be on the same platform as bad baby egg.

I wanna be with Arthur. (Dan sobbing) But this is also about emotional resilience. At some point, we have to accept the way things are and make the best we can. You don't have to play the game, you don't have to look at the stats, you don't have to use ads. You can follow your heart, create what you want.

And if your content is amazing, this is just a platform for you to show your talent and creativity. And you will get the respect you deserve. Or are you just a YouTuber? (gentle music) The term YouTuber is a slur. It doesn't matter if you are Zefrank, Hankgreen, Contrapoints, Lily Singh, Tom Scott, Scott the Woz, KSI, the Try Guys, we are all always Logan Paul filming a walk through the woods. It's the goddamn truth, that the reputation of this website and the creators on it is terrible, and it's not fair because all the boomer newspapers don't wanna write about the next generation of media that's making us obsolete is everything that we're not.

No, but you bet your ass the moment one creator does something mildly contentious, it's an international headline. The booms are afraid of the zooms, we know it's true. They don't want to admit defeat, as much as anyone up to a jaded millennial, or a doomer x'er is just waiting for them all to fucking die so they stop voting and we can finally fix some of the shit that's wrong with the world. Sorry if you happen to be an older viewer and not evil.

Thank you for doing your part. This isn't just an external thing as there is a real, strange psychological issue of self-hating on this here website. See, when it's some obnoxious A-list celebrity, everything about them might be awful, but they are so removed from reality that it almost isn't real, and they get a pass from our cynicism and envy.

We just assume, "Oh, they were born rich. Their parents are Hollywood agents. They came straight out of the womb on to a red carpet, and never had to touch the same dirty floor as the rest of us. What can you do?" Whereas YouTubers, well, YouTubers are anyone, just like you and I. They're regular people from all over the world with all kind of backgrounds, that with their own initiative managed to make something of themselves.

How fucking dare they, those obnoxious twats? I'm gonna go leave a hate comment. I know this because I have felt it too, as a teenager, looking up my whole career, feeling the bitterness and jealousy bubbling deep within, and why? Because it's relatable. It's the same reason I love YouTube and YouTubers. But just the word YouTuber is almost a synonym for amateur, embarrassing, not a real job, not real talent. YouTubers be like, "Subscribe please, titty clickbait drama crying." God, YouTubers are so annoying with their self-promotion, "Oh, check out my new video."

Shut the fuck up. Check out this idiot that's proud of themselves. Have you checked the app you're on? You're just a YouTuber. A pop star with a record label has a gigantic machine behind them that does all of the annoying shit. They have marketing departments to promote their material, advertising.

They get to look relatable in funny interviews. And usually, unless they also have songwriters and producers, just stick to what they're supposedly good at and sit back looking cool, and meticulously styled. A YouTuber might be a singer/songwriter, but they all have to write the music, set up the cameras, the lights, the audio, the recording, do the performance, edit it, design the assets, post it, and promote it. Then they're annoying for having to promote their own music? I do think it's annoying, and I have felt so fucking annoying my entire life, but you have to. And whenever I've accidentally stepped a toe into the mainstream waters, it doesn't matter who I am or what I've done.

It's not about me. It's about the platform, and they just want to ask about money, and scandals, and drama. Since the dawn, people have left comments saying, "Get a real job." But if you learn to be a YouTuber, which as we've shown can be a long difficult path for some, you're doing 12 different jobs. You're a camera operator, lighting designer, sound engineer, video editor, graphic designer, writer, content manager, marketing agent, social media copy editor, brand ambassador, PR and community rep, oh yeah, and whatever the fuck your content is about, gymnast, gardener, tired gay. YouTube is a platform, being a YouTuber describes how you do you job, not what you actually do or who you are.

Me, I'm a sad fucking clown, that's what. I've made that perfectly and pathetically clear, and I can do that on any stage, screen, or sand dune you want to leave me pointlessly pontificating on. And look, I don't want respect because I truly hate myself and I don't feel like I deserve it, which is my problem.

But I wish the community, and even other creators would have some respect for themselves. It hurts me to watch mainstream media use YouTubers for their engagement to promote stuff. And suddenly, YouTubers and viewers are so blessed to have a real golden shiny person in their presence. Girl, if you're the one with 10 million followers, you're just as valid as them. And guess what, if you have 10 followers and you're watching, you're just as valid too.

Can we get some fucking self-love up in this goddamn place? Either we're all just as special, or we're all worthless, tag yourself. But that doesn't stop people seeing YouTube as the open mic night of the world. The moment a YouTuber does something good, everyone says, "Wow, this guy should be on Netflix" What does that mean? They should have a bigger budget, a team of talented collaborators to elevate their vision, a guaranteed audience to appreciate it, or just get off the lame app and onto the cool one? I think we can agree, there's some real crap on streaming platforms that you pay for, and some life changingly incredible stuff for free on youtube, then the real crap on YouTube.

But the latest brush with which to tar creators of any shape, size or stream, is that any professional on the internet is just an influencer. One could argue that unlike YouTuber being a terrible descriptor of what you do, that influencer gets to the point. If you primarily design content to sell a lifestyle in order to attract brands and promote products, you aren't in it for the self expression, you are here to influence minds. If being a YouTuber is cringe, being an influencer is actually somehow less cringe, but more inherently evil, I don't know. But as we've established, sometimes the crime of being a creator doesn't pay. And we're not all printing money like we're in a boxing ring.

(bell ringing) He's already dead. I am not an influencer here, I'm a creator who, I mean, can't help being influential, but has had to, in the past, professionally influence to pay the bills. I was not raised to be particularly woke. So the first time I did a brand deal for £200, I said, "Hell yeah, do you know how many milkshakes I can get with that?" So I walked around town with an actor wearing a gimp suit to promote a phone network. It was funny, I guess. I don't know how that was relevant, and it ended with a 5-second card at the end.

There was this edgy, straight YouTube boy at the time, that I looked up to, and high key wanted to bonk. And I remember, he left a comment on the video, "Sellout." I didn't even understand the concept of selling out okay, but this rocked my world. "Oh my god, did I do something bad?" Over my whole career, I probably did less than 10 sponsored posts on my own account.

Phil loved it. He doesn't give a fuck, just kidding. I hated it, but like with the dinosaur cereal thing, I had to, otherwise, I was on a standard fare southwest train services shuttle back to Winnersh Triangle, and that was literally life or death. I now have the privilege of not having to sell out, but it's another reason the creator lifestyle can be tough to come to terms with. And unlike that actress in a commercial for Chanel that's iconic and legendary and beautiful, you're telling people about "Raid: Shadow Legends" on your channel, you stupid YouTuber. So I've always had this internal tug of war.

Do I love YouTube, the website that saved my teen years, gave me a life that still spend at least two hours a day watching in 2022, or am I ashamed and embarrassed and resentful? I didn't have to deal with any of this shit doing anything else in my career. Now, could I cope with it? Yes. But it was just one more thing that made this feel like a hostile environment. And when your creativity is full of angry hornets, as the doll from "Squid Game" looking at you, is constantly being pelted with tomatoes, and has a weird smell under the carpet. Sorry for making you draw that, Hector. Eventually, you're gonna burn out.

(dramatic music) On the 3rd of March, 2018, I uploaded my last video as an absolutely not very active YouTuber called "Trying to Live My Truth", in which I expressed that I literally couldn't write any more, make any jokes, share any stories from my life until I dealt with some shit 'cause I realized as long as I was putting myself out here online in front of an audience to be commented on, I felt I couldn't change or grow, and so I had to go. But it wasn't just about authenticity and my sexuality, I had burnt out from being a YouTuber. Dan was in every sense of the word not on fire.

And it seems this is the inevitable fate of every YouTuber. Yeah, so it turns out I also burnt out when it was trendy. I just didn't come back 2 weeks later.

I fully fucked off for 2 years. So what is it about this job that makes everyone have a bloody breakdown? Well, it's just that, there is no break, there is no down time, the content treadmill is infinite, indefinite, indomitable, in... Come on, give me something, indigo. It isn't purple, I don't know. When someone makes a TV show, they have seasons.

You decide how much you're doing then stop. You set expectations, planned for it, know how much energy to commit until it's over. Then before the next one, you have time to review, improve and maybe rest. YouTube has no rest.

Creators are expected to simply keep creating, sharing their life, unleashing the content. Even holidays aren't time off, according to the creator playbook. They are tentpole moments for creating content even harder. What are you doing enjoying Christmas? Get off your ass and make a video about Christmas. Don't you know that's hot right now? Don't you know how high the CPM is in December? This is no time to rest. Halloween, Easter, new years eve, birthdays, anniversaries, funerals, Saturdays, every time is a great time to make some content.

It is not natural to do something for years at a time without a pause to reflect, to think, just to catch a damn breath. And the whole time, there's this mostly positive pressure from the audience to keep it coming, the guilt if you miss an upload day or take too long, you worthless failure. The fear that if you ever stop, the algorithm will see, the audience will disappear, it will all fall apart and you'll be left with nothing.

I felt I had been on this runaway train that dominated my life for years. And suddenly, I just pulled the emergency brake. "I need to stop, I need to stop," he panted weirdly.

Now, the content cycle might be easier to survive if the lifestyle was healthier, but most creators are so out of balance that their heads went up their ass from all the attention and burst through their own neck hole again. Well, we all got a taste of it recently when we were working from home. Yeah, those were certainly some times. They were times.

As everyone on earth now understands, if you don't have an office to go to, there's no structure. Why do a 9-5 when you could do a 1 AM to 9 AM because you procrastinated before that deadline, or just a 24? There's no one telling you to go home, get your guilt on. Why bother getting dressed? Free yourself from the oppression of denim and wear sweats all day, every day.

There's no one to impress. Just let the lethargy consume you as you sink into the sofa, you sad potato. There's no separation. Your home isn't your safe space to disconnect anymore.

Your work can follow you anywhere. It's on your bedside table when you wake up, on your desk as soon as you enter a room, or if you were me, you had cameras permanently set up in your bedroom, which made your neighbors think you were a pornstar. Oh, you wish.

No, you're just inviting strange comments and living with no boundaries whatsoever. There's no colleagues, no friends, no office drama, not even anyone to hate. Just you inside staring at a blank screen with nothing but your thoughts. I was severely lonely. And no, Phil doesn't count. We're so familiar, he might as well have been a piece of furniture.

I craved companionship, comradery. I cried thinking about people that had teams or friends around them every day. What's that like? I missed being at school. Now, you know that's fucked up. But being your own boss, that has it's perks, no one telling you what to do.

But it has it's flaws, no one telling you what to do. It's up to you to create your own meaning, which sounds fun until you have a fucking existential crisis. Even just breaking down tasks, motivating yourself, getting a pat on the back and all of this, the lifestyle, the endless grind mindset, it slowly eats away at your mental health.

And that's without taking into consideration the emotional side of it, the profuse outpourings of love, the hate, fans, trolls, the responsibility, the pressure. If I wrote a book about this, I'd say it's because our simple ancient monkey brains are only evolved to hunt down woolly mammoths and hide from lightning. We don't know how to deal with Twitter.

It's complete brain overload Now, some people are built different. They aren't phased by it, but I'm a complete neurotic mess, as my therapist would tell you because of my fun childhood of 13 years of severe bullying, I simply expect the worst in everyone. I have, by default, an incredibly negative view of life.

I assume no one likes me, no one will like what I make, everyone will always act in bad faith, and that's what I should expect. It's honestly kind of my superpower as I am disturbingly resilient and everything I make has to be filtered through so much doubt and self-criticism that if I actually fucking create some content, it's probably good. But I wish I would just loosen up a bit, god.

You know who I blame? Charlieissocoollike, George Carlin, my dad. If these dudes that I looked up to weren't so cynical and precious about everything, having integrity and meaning and creating boundaries, I'd probably just be having fun, or I'd have overshared my personal life and imploded in some kind of public drama fiasco. We'll never know.

But I was gone, a husk, desaturated Dan lying face down on the floor And I know these are first world problems, but these YouTubers are just explaining what's going on with them. They aren't asking for sympathy, hopefully. Won't you please sponsor a poor, not at all poor YouTuber today for 1.99 a month? Your donation will go to fund one person to slap some fucking sense into them, and get some perspective. People have real problems. But I also felt that I'd reached a plateau.

That last video, it was alright, it had a sincere sentiment. But I remember watching it back and going, "This is shit." I'm watching things on Netflix, I'm seeing shows on the west end, and after 10 years, I'm still doing this? I had a realization that my potential as a writer or performer was being held back by my complete incompetence as a filmmaker. I detest, I loath, I hate setting up equipment, dragging lights around my apartment, fucking up all the wall paint, denting the floor, smashing glasses, getting all pretty for a video, and then heaving with sweat as I desperately extend tripod legs, wrestling with isos, and apertures, and lenses that just made my face look like a bloody beach ball.

I am not a camera man, I know nothing about lights, I uploaded videos that looked like this. Hello, internet. So how have you been recently? What the fuck, mate? When trying to operate lighting results in this, just give up, open a curtain. My videos sounded like my microphone was dropped down a toilet in a cathedral while an active train was driving through the toilet. And I saw other creators that had friends that they worked with, skilled people to collaborate with, and that when they joined forces, it made something better. It reminded me that I loved being on the radio with our little team of producers.

I loved making a documentary with a passionate director. I loved going on tour and working with set designers who take a shitty sketch and make something incredible, but here I am alone in my apartment making this. But I couldn't get help because there was always this sentiment in the community that when YouTubers get help, suddenly it's inauthentic. It depends what kind of creator you were. But because my videos were so personal, if it wasn't all me, it'd be like, "He, changed. It's clearly just a job for him now, it's not the same."

It's fine for some other people, but for me, it felt like an inevitable death sentence, like I was some tragic Disney princess that's cursed to forever have ugly lighting. And I just couldn't do it anymore. I didn't wanna look like this. But I knew there was one more thing, one last thing I still had to do. It was a year and half later that I finally returned with basically, I'm gay.

A video that by attempting to write, actually forced me to confront the last 28 years of my life, come out to my family, and actually be honest with myself for the first time. It wasn't just content, it was actually my entire life changing. Writing that video took months. I spent literal weeks playing around with the camera, the lights, the background just to make sure it wasn't ugly. That video is the absolute limit of what I can do myself.

And the moment I posted it, as a YouTuber, I knew there was nothing left. I have no story to tell that can ever top this, no topic that's more important and virtuous, no jokes founded on something so raw that would ever be as powerful. I couldn't imagine making another thing on YouTube ever again. You could imagine it, what could have come next, "Oh Dan does a video about the current state of politics getting people to sign up to vote. Dan does a funny embarrassing story about some guy he hooked up with at university with a moral at the end.

Oh look, it's internet support group 11, there it writes itself." I didn't need to do it. And all of the reasons I had burnt out were still there. I wanted a change, something new, something different, something inspiring, something where it's not just me by myself talking about myself.

New people, new challenges, new experiences. And now that I've finally come out, I can be real and actually enjoy this crazy fucking life 'cause I'm free to just be me. Dan had been in a metapod for too long. It was time to spread my wings and be butterfree. I ruined that with the Pokemon reference, didn't I? That was completely unnecessary.

I'm such dweeb. (gentle music) It was time to ask myself, for the first time since I uploaded that first video 10 years before, what do I actually want? What will make me happy? I had done so much for so long to get to this place where I finally felt I had earned the privilege, the time, space, financial security, the right to step back and reflect on my life. And I

2022-05-09 04:59

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