You, dear reader, may not know it, but today is actually my birthday. Though I look much younger than my days (it’s the good country air and a strictly beer-based diet…), I’m 31 years old now, which is awesome! Most people don’t really like the whole ‘getting older’ thing, but I really enjoy it. Now I’m not just 30 anymore, I have officially entered the ‘being in my early 30s’ territory. So, as soon as I do something childish, it’s not ‘awkward’ anymore, but ‘adorable’, since I’m ‘still in touch with my inner child’. Yay!
More importantly, I can now tell younger people stories about how the world used to be ‘back in the day’ and that we didn’t have any of the technology we do today. Internet? Nope! Smartphones? Ha, I only got my first mobile when I was 16 and it had a monochrome display! DVDs and Netflix? VHS, baby! People freaking out about boybands breaking up? Well, okay, we had those too. Quite a lot of them, actually. Well, I didn’t say it was all good, okay?!
Regarding boybands, back in my day they were the top guys when it came to screaming and fainting fans. Almost exclusively, in fact. But, as a man in his early 30s who keeps in touch with young people’s culture, I have learned that they have got tough competition – by people posting videos on Youtube, of all things. Where in my time only Take That and the Backstreet Boys got thousands of hysterical teenagers together, it is now Vloggers like Dagi Bee, LeFloid, Y-Titty and Sami Slimani or Let’s-Players Gronkh and Sarazar, that gather the crowds.
The main reason why I find this so fascinating is that nobody here really saw that coming, mostly because they weren’t taken seriously by the ‘traditional’ media. Now they manage to fill halls with their fans and get a whole city to stand-still when they go shopping. Normally, a person becomes a celebrity because reporters and journalists publish stories about them – be it movie stars, sportsmen, musicians or It Girls. But here, for years, you didn’t see anything, and they still gathered millions of fans. And I think the main reason for this was not only ignorance, but a great deal of fear of the competition.
Because the thing is, most of these Youtube stars dabble at least a bit in areas that were traditionally the playing fields of journalists. LeFloid covers recent news and explains them in a colloquial language, Dagi Bee shares a field with classical lifestyle magazines and Gronkh has the same audience as gaming publications. That is also why, when they couldn’t be ignored anymore, some journalists got outright hostile – Hank Green perfectly sums this up in his story about how he and two other Youtuber’s met Barack Obama.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some problems with those new media stars – factual errors, conspiracy theories, covered advertisement and more. But the worst we – the ‘classical’ media people – could do now is trying to ignore or belittle them, because they are here to stay and they have a huge audience and influence. Trust me on this – it’s the wisdom of age speaking.