On the surface, the YouTube community is all about openness and honesty, but if the response to Sunday’s #YouTubeFandomHonestyHour is any indicator, it seems like there’s been a lot that’s gone unsaid. The hashtag took off Sunday afternoon after a tweet from a popular fan account and clearly struck a chord judging by the avalanche of responses. Creators and fans jumped in to share their concerns and disappointments, as well as their hopes and earnest reflections.
It was fan account @Stylinsonsugg that touched off the revival of the hashtag which had been largely dormant since last year.
We really need to bring back #youtubefandomhonestyhour
— ¤ Georgie ¤ (@stylinsonsugg) May 10, 2015
What happened next was a tidal wave of feelings and opinions. Many creators saw the hashtag as a means to reflect on the way that YouTube has changed their lives, opened them up to new possibilities, and introduced them to new friends and ways of thinking.
#youtubefandomhonestyhour This ride with YouTube has helped me confront many issues I haven’t recognized in the past. I’m evolving always??
— Devon Batti-LoveYa! (@DevonDoesTweets) May 11, 2015
For others it was a chance to address real issues that have gone largely unaddressed in the creator community.
#youtubefandomhonestyhour bit late but… I wish the fandom knew what some youtubers were like irl off camera, it would change everything
— Doug Armstrong ? (@douga_) May 11, 2015
Many prominent YouTubers chose not to weigh in directly, but to use the event as a learning opportunity.
Thoroughly enjoying #youtubefandomhonestyhour. Nothing massively surprising to me tbh. But it’s good for YouTubers to hear this stuff! ????
— Hazel Hayes (@TheHazelHayes) May 10, 2015
Others took a chance by sharing some mildly guilty confessions
#youtubefandomhonestyhour I sent Amazingphil a letter 5 yrs ago & my first ever CD I used coloured pens I still shiver when I think of this
— BriBry (@BriBryOnTour) May 10, 2015
Of course at least one notable creator saw the hashtag as a great opportunity to make a sales pitch.
True to form, fans were also part of the conversation with many tweeting praise for favorite YouTubers and condemning those who had disappointed.
Louise is probably the most underrated ‘big’ youtuber there is. She’s a total queen #youtubefandomhonestyhour
— daisy ?s janya (@butterflyburr) May 10, 2015
#youtubefandomhonestyhour Why should we pay so much money to meet you when we’re the reason you’re famous anyway
— erin?? (@russettftbutera) May 10, 2015
Akilah Hughes used the hashtag as an opportunity to share some astute observations about YouTube as an industry, and the struggle of being a creator on YouTube who doesn’t identify with YouTube norms.
I would *love* to collab with big YouTubers, but MCN hierarchies don’t incentivize creativity like they used to. #youtubefandomhonestyhour
— Akilah Hughes (@AkilahObviously) May 10, 2015
The YouTube Honestly “hour” lasted almost a day as fans and creators alike vented their feelings about the medium and the state of the YouTube today. It’s interesting that a community that so loudly proclaims its own authenticity appears to have such a backlog of unexpressed emotion. Even creators who chose not to get too personal alluded to the pressure to conform to standards that they didn’t necessarily identity with. Others made veiled references to what their fellow creators were “really like,” a sentiment echoed by many fans who complained that their favorite creators’ sunny, fan friendly on-screen personas didn’t match up to their real life selves.
If anything, the honesty hour hashtag is a powerful reminder that even in an increasingly profit driven environment, YouTube fans still demand the authenticity that they have been repeatedly promised. YouTube creators, and the industry that surrounds them, ignore that at their own peril.