Hopefully what I am about to type won't sound too much like a full-on temper tantrum.
So I spent the weekend working on a cool Q&A video for my personal YouTube channel in celebration of hitting 5,000 subscribers a few weeks back. I had invited viewers and subscribers to submit questions, promising that I would make a video answering them when I hit 5,000 subscribers. I spent a good deal of time answering the questions and trying to make the video entertaining. I'm not done with it yet because my program choked trying to render it, and I still have to figure out how I'm going to fix that. But here's what I want to rant about.
Someone who shall remain nameless contacted me to ask why I was planning personal content and whether a video of this nature would really be appropriate considering how narcissistic it sounds.
That's right, I started a channel on YouTube to talk about what I want to talk about, and over 5,000 people have tuned in to watch me do it, but now I'm not supposed to use my space for anything too personal.
I've gotten messages instructing me to make my Tumblr blog "more professional" from people who followed me for the asexuality essays and were dismayed to see the occasional shitpost. I've gotten messages scolding me for tweeting about food because they followed me for author stuff. I've gotten "disappointed" comments on YouTube suggesting that my occasional mention of my book (which is 100% related to one of the primary themes of the channel) has rendered my channel nothing but a sales pitch. I've gotten an exasperated behind-my-back comment about my content on Facebook which amounted to why doesn't she post about anything except writing stuff, Internet jerks, and gay cartoons?
And now someone believes my YouTube isn't the place to post silly personal videos.
Look, I understand that I frequently represent my community; that I am known widely for certain kinds of content; that people learn about me from one of my creations and then might be disappointed to find that I don't focus all my creative energy on doing that thing.
But I'll be damned if I'm expected to apologize for being a person.
I get to say what my spaces are "for."
I love the Internet partly because we create our stages for whatever performances we want. Some stages are actually created for only certain kinds of content, like theme blogs and info channels and tip-offering Twitter accounts. But most of them are basically for variety acts, and that includes nearly all of the social media and creativity platforms I have elected to create content for. I am ALWAYS going to do a variety of things, and those interests and activities of mine will leak into every aspect of my life online.
The idea that my own blogs and YouTube channels are being interpreted as not the place for what I want to put there is baffling to me. I create valuable content sometimes, and that does not mean I'm therefore barred from doing anything else, or from being silly, or from mixing it up a little. This is my "writing blog," but it's distinct from my author site because it is about me as a person who is a writer. And people who are not interested in that do not have to read it--or if they are only interested in my writing advice, I have helpfully created tags that people can use to browse only the content they want. On YouTube, people can choose to only click the asexuality videos, or the cartoon videos, or the karaoke videos. Or they can stop watching videos they're not finding interesting. Or they can unsubscribe to me if I don't produce enough of the content they came for. What I object to is the idea that they get to tell me what I should make. In my own spaces.
These are my spaces. It is not "narcissistic" to want my spaces to be my spaces. They are also public, and I invite people to share in consuming the content I put there, but I am going to choose what that content is. It is pretty obvious that I've always been what some might term an "oversharer," but I don't care if people aren't interested in everything I say. If you are not into it it doesn't hurt me at all, and if it's not your thing, I didn't make it for you. The implication, of course, is that what's irrelevant to uninterested people is therefore objectively uninteresting and not worth creating--and more than once I have received messages from people who deliberately took the time to contact me personally and tell me not to make stuff. Because they do not care about it. Because they cannot imagine anyone being interested. I have had this reaction from people regarding the same content that earned me 5,000+ subscribers and got me a book deal.
~Well maybe YouTube just isn't the place for you to-- ~
YouTube isn't the place for me to make an indulgent video about my thoughts and opinions? Then where the hell is?
The Internet is full of all kinds of horseshit and nobody needs to be telling me my content's quality or subject matter does not meet some arbitrary standard. I do not have to satisfy someone else's standards of quality to deserve a channel. My work does not have to be good before it can be made and shared. And furthermore, I have literally thousands of people paying attention to my work, so clearly at least some of what I make is interesting to some people. I think I'm doing okay here and do not need to be lectured on what content does not warrant sharing.
To be honest, the critical comments are pretty rare and the engagements and interactions I receive are plentiful (sometimes overwhelming!), and some of my readers have told me they love that I'm a well-rounded person in addition to a creator of useful or entertaining content. They want to know more about me, talk to me, interact with me, share with me, learn about me. People who are popular on YouTube get a following with a core group of subscribers who are quite curious about the creators' personal lives. I opened my comments up to subscribers for a couple of weeks and got around a hundred questions. Some of my YouTube audience does not follow me in other places and welcomed the opportunity to engage with me that way. And for those who are only interested in my asexuality videos or aren't interested in a Q&A video, I'm sure the way they'll deal with it is not watching it.
If you want to talk about narcissism, how about the people who think my YouTube channels, blogs, and social media accounts should cater to their interests?