People’s personalities change dramatically based on the situation and the people they are interacting with in real life. You speak to a lover differently than you would a friend, and much differently than you would a boss or subordinate. In sales you learn to always smile and seem upbeat to the client, while in tech you learn to be more somber and down play the possibilities. If I’m selling a system to a business I may be bombastic and excited to the secretary, somber and level headed to the CEO, and stern and authoritarian to my employee. When it’s all done and the check is cashed I may be elated and fun loving at the bar buying the house a round. You act differently, think differently, communicate differently, and in many ways are a different person based on the situation. Your personality is the pure white light of life, it’s the prism of the situation that pulls out the specific colors and aspects.
Being a YouTube personality stunts this process and forces you to live within a personality definition that you may find stressful and destructive.
The issue on YouTube is that people connect with a personality more than they connect to the content. This is why single camera, few dollar budget channels can get such a following. Viewers are looking more for emotional connection than they are for entertainment. They want to be able to go back to a safe place on the web and hear what they want to hear. The world is full of love, or the world is full of hate, or it’s all a VR game anyway so love and hate are irrelevant. They want a place to go, to sit back, and be told what they want to be told.
The issue for content creators is that viewers do not want creators to be deep. Deepness breaks the illusion. Deepness reminds the viewer that the creator isn’t what they think they are. A creator has lived decades, had countless experiences, been moved and tormented a thousand ways, but viewers want to look at the creator as some archetype. Some perfect expression of what the viewer cares about. They want creators to be the psychological expression of fast food. You always know what you’re getting regardless of whether or not it’s nutritious.
With this is mind creators have to rotate through the prism to find the personality that will do best on YouTube, and then marry that personality. Creators need to find the personality that has enough energy to drive a video. The personality has to exude energy. It may be low key, or it may be bombastic, the only thing it cannot be is boring. It’s not a joke to say I used to down a large coffee before videos to get the proper state of mania.
Next creators have to choose how to speak to the camera. Are you understanding of the viewers plight, are you appalled by the viewers apathy, are you conspiring with the viewer so that together you may take on the corrupt world? Are you authoritarian, or submissive? Are you loud, or quiet?
Past this you have to think about what direction you come at your topics from. Are you the authority or are you the n00b? Do you defend the Empire, or do you fight with the rebels? Are your viewers underlings, authorities or peers?
You take these questions and mold a personality. You then create videos with that personality and tweak aspects until you find the perfect YouTube you. When you have found the YouTube viable expression of yourself you then cast that personality in stone and forever more that is how you will be known. Viewers do not want complex. Viewers do not want deep. Viewers want the equivalent of a Dorrito Taco, a Big Mac, or a Dairy Queen Blizzard.
As with many aspects to being a creator this doesn’t seem to bad in the beginning, but after 1000 videos you can find that you don’t much care for the person you portray on YouTube, and may also not know a way out. This is exacerbated by the never ending torment of the algorithm. To keep getting views, which means earning money, you have to keep pumping out content. Long after you’ve out grown or moved past how you were you stay psychologically stunted in a moment in time. It’s a bit like Abbey on NCIS having the EXACT same hair style to FOURTEEN seasons…
For myself I became stunted in an aspect that I’m proud of, but in small doses. Part of why I’m good at tech is because of my military and paramilitary training. Having instructors that beat skills into you not so that you could get a job, but rather so that you didn’t get yourself or a team mate killed is a fantastic thing. Being forced to never allow failure to be an option means that the problem will get solved. It may not be pretty, but it will work. I came of age in a world where weakness had no place, and YOU were the one people depended on. Your failure means others suffer, and anyone who believes others should suffer for your weakness is beyond contempt.
Here’s the thing… going all RAAAARRRR actually isn’t required that much past a certain point. N00bs get whipped into shape in the beginning. Once in a while you have to discipline someone who just lost their mind for a moment, but basically everyone’s on the same page. Everyone believes in what they are doing. Everyone is focused on the mission. The argument is more on which gas station to stop at for the best coffee more than anything else.
When I started my videos were directed toward industry professionals. People who do not have to be told that “solving problems” is really what our job breaks down to. If you have an underling to run 100 drops of cable then you look at them sternly and make them know all hell will rain down if they screw up, but is no underling is available then you fill up your thermos with coffee at 5am and start running cable. My personality was happy and excited because for people that know what they are doing and are willing to put the client first this is an amazing profession. You earn more money, get more respect, and have more options than any of your peers so long as you SOLVE VALUABLE PROBLEMS.
The issue is who my target audience was, and who watched me were darn near diametrically opposed. I wanted to talk to professionals who had put in 24 hours day, and 30 day months, instead I got folks who failed at flipping burgers but had been told that the best place for lazy idiots is tech. “Bill Gates dropped out of college so it shows…” NOTHING other than college is not required to be successful. Hard work is required. Resources are required. Long days, miserable projects, biting your tongue when the boss yells at you for literally doing exactly what they asked is required. Instead of being watched by industry veterans I was being watched by whiny snots. People who believe that if they crash a server that supports 1000 users that it is wrong to be yelled at…
And so day in and day out I was receiving emails and communication from people using the last of their savings to pay for an A+ certification. People who had kids to feed and were waxing lyrically about always dreaming of being a “PC Repair Professional”. People that in a day and age where LTE ubiquity is close to being the norm saying how, “… once I get my CCNA I’ll show you…”. What side of the prism am I supposed to show here? When you’re dealing with dumbass n00bs that are going to get themselves and those around them hurt do you really sing glowingly about cotton candy and fairy dust?
I didn’t mind the old sergeant mode for awhile. Being a hard ass is kind of soothing in an odd way. But day after day, week after week, coming year after year it becomes tedious. The waves of n00bs just would not stop. In my mind I figure I train up a bunch of n00bs, and then as they get their feet under them I can go back to more relaxed style. But the n00bs never stopped coming. The worse bit is that there are so ever many n00bs that they can group together and reinforce their own idiotic ideas. “Be nicer…”… “Be more optimistic…” … “Be this, or that, or the other…”… “I can still make $35 repairing a computer so that shows…” HOW F’ING STUPID YOU ARE!!! How many $35 repairs are required to pay the rent? Have you factored in Client Acquisition Cost? When you get sick and need a week or month down will $35 per repair put enough in the bank so that you can focus on recovery and not being evicted..?
The problem for me is that theoretically I could lie. I could pander, smile, and talk about the wonders that are possible, but that these folks will never experience. The issue is that “So others may live” meant something to me. Do I set people up for failure so that I can profit? At one point I was willing to put my life on the line so that someone else could make it home, and now I’m supposed to throw n00bs to the wolves so that I can afford a nicer hotel room in South Beach? My morality is a bit more flexible than most, but it would require my ethics to be beyond Silly Putty for that to makes sense.
And this is a problem that you will have to think about as a creator. You’re willing to present an aspect of your personality for awhile, but for how long can you do it. The side you show when you are having discussions with experienced professionals is different than what you show to kids. As your actual viewers skew further from who you targeted does the meaning of the message get distorted beyond anything you want to be associated with? Have you become someone you just don’t want to be? I don’t mind being a hard ass, but…
Are you willing to be the person you play on YouTube? For how long..?