October 17, 2019

YouTube clout culture leaves viewers with toxic effects

I hear, “Do it for the clout,” almost every time I get on YouTube. I’m of the generation that grew up on SMOSH and Shane Dawson TV Skits. YouTube has always held a warm place in my heart. Over the past few years, I’ve seen YouTube shift from a platform for less popular musicians, comedians or makeup artists to get their work out there to millionaire social media influencers taking over the trending page. YouTube has become an unhealthy collection of wild “clout-chasers.”

Regular people and social media influencers alike have to step up their YouTube game if they want to get any views. This means pulling crazier stunts. People are climbing skyscrapers and construction equipment without any real backup in case anything goes wrong. Acton Bacon from Australia fell to his death in 2011 while trying to video himself planking on a seven-story building. In July 2017 Monalisa Perez, 19, and her boyfriend Pedro Ruiz, 22, decided to film a stunt in front of a group of people. Ruiz held an encyclopedia up to his chest, and Perez shot him at close range with a Desert Eagle handgun. He died on the scene in front of their three-year-old child because they were trying to become YouTube famous.

YouTubers now pull stunts more dangerous than any of the Jackass films. At least Jackass had emergency crews on-site if there were any need for medical care. When these stunts are uploaded online and receive a lot of attention and views, it makes teens feel like they can do these things. Teens and many young adults don’t have the cognitive functions necessary to realize that this could be really dangerous for them, they simply see the reward that comes from it.

There are YouTubers don’t actually do the stunt, they just use the clickbait to get views. That video then gets so many views that the viewer thinks they could get more if they really did the stunt. The lines between what is real and what’s just done for clout on YouTube is getting more blurry by the month. Tana Mongeau and Jake Paul even had a wedding so they could get the most clout out of whatever their relationship is.

Tana Mongeau has 4.95 million YouTube subscribers and that number has continued to go up since her wedding to Jake Paul who has 19.6 million YouTube subscribers. She made multiple videos with Jake, featured him in her MTV reality show, and invited nearly 500 influencers to the wedding. My entire recommended page for at least a week was covered with videos of people talking about her wedding, whether they went or not or whether they believed it was real or not.

Well, by all legal accounts, the wedding wasn’t real. It was just a big party under the disguise of a wedding. They’re making profits off a fake relationship, a fake wedding and lying to all of their fans. Their private life is their private life, but they’re making up an entirely fake private life and the psychological effects that as on influencers entirely known.

There have been many studies over the past 10 years on the effect social media has on typical social media users and too much use has been shown to harm on mental health. A study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology found that the limited social media use group had lower levels of depression and felt less lonely. These influencers are backing themselves into a corner when they “just do it for the clout.” They aren’t doing anyone any favors by making their social media life look all sunshine and roses. It creates an unhealthy and untrue narrative for their fans.

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