A couple of weeks ago, we discussed the concept of voyeurism online. The first thing that popped into my head while we were discussing this was the strange relationship that many vloggers on YouTube have with their viewers.
Right around the time that we had been discussing this in class, a popular YouTuber by the name of Colleen Ballinger had publicly announced her divorce with another popular YouTuber by the name of Joshua David Evans. Her method of announcing this was by posting an eight minute long video, full of tears and personal information that ended up getting watched by over ten million people. Ballinger’s soon to be ex-husband also posted a video of his own, and suddenly, the internet was involved in this couple’s marriage.
The way that this divorce was announced was almost as if Ballinger was breaking the news to a child of her own. She talked about not wanting to disappoint her viewers and assured everyone that she and Evans would remain civil, but there was something so uncomfortable about this situation to me. The video felt like an apology to her viewers, but it wasn’t as if her viewers deserved an apology, or were even entitled to half the information that she was giving in the video. I couldn’t comprehend why millions of people would be so deeply invested in a relationship between two people most of them had never physically met.
YouTubers put so much of themselves out there on the internet, and as a result of that, I think some of their subscribers feel as though they deserve to know every detail. I’m curious to know why this is so common when identities are constructed online. Could it perhaps be the same phenomenon that causes people to be deeply invested in the lives of actors, musicians, etc.? What about these people sharing their daily routines and participating in silly challenges causes people to feel entitled, though?