Youtubers create cult followings through entertainment

Lucy Tantum

Twenty-three-year-old Charlie McDonnell looks straight at the camera and begins to talk about his greatest fear. His YouTube video, which is mostly about death, seems serious at first—but after four minutes of listening to McDonnell joke about immortality, it’s hard not to smile.

And McDonnell is no rarity. He’s just one in a large population of YouTubers: bloggers-slash-comedians who film and post many aspects of their lives on the popular video sharing website.

On YouTube, McDonnell goes by the name “Charlieissocoollike.” He has posted almost 200 videos of himself, and has two million subscribers and 300 million video views.

CHARLIEISSOCOOLLIKE is a youtuber who has over two million subscribers.
CHARLIEISSOCOOLLIKE is a youtuber who has over two million subscribers.

YouTubers, most of whom are enthusiastic twenty-somethings, often post videos of themselves ranting about a relationship, playing Truth or Dare, getting drunk, or doing all three of these things simultaneously. It’s common for YouTubers to make their videos very personal, talking as honestly to their subscribers as they would to a close friend.

Avid YouTube followers say that they often feel a close connection with their favorite YouTubers.

Monica Frangoul is a junior who follows about 30 YouTubers. “I sort of like to see the YouTubers do things that are funny and entertaining, and I like to see what’s going on in their life,” Frangoul said.

“They kind of become a friend of yours. You just get to know them really well,” junior Daphne Nhuch, who follows over 50 YouTubers, said. “It’s kind of fun just to see how other people live, because you don’t really see that much of other people’s lives.”

Nhuch said that the YouTuber concept seems to be here to stay.

“People are starting to enact serious change and get huge followings. Three million people has become almost normal,” Nhuch said. “They’re using it to actually move people to do stuff.”

According to Nhuch, YouTubers often use their videos to do everything from advertising their music to promoting charitable causes. Since YouTubers often have millions of followers, their opinions and promotions can have huge impacts.

As YouTubers have gained more publicity, they have even started a convention called VidCon. The convention, which was founded in 2010 by John and Hank Green of the VlogBrothers YouTube channel, began with 1,400 attendees when it started in 2010 and grew to 12,000 in 2013. Next year’s convention will take place in June in Anaheim.

Nhuch and Frangoul attended last year’s VidCon in Anaheim together, and said that it gave them a chance to become part of a larger YouTube community.

“I realized how it’s really amazing how, when you get thousands of people who all have similar interests together, they’re all so nice,” said Nhuch. “You go to VidCon and everyone totally understands what you’re talking about.”