Previous: On Exhaustion



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Yes, when I get stressed out I start to question absolutely everything in my life which is probably not a really great strategy. VidCon starts this time next it will be interesting to see if I can get a video done!

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Good morning John.

VidCon is in a week, which, as per tradition, means that I am experiencing a great deal of general, non-specific anxiety.

Usually, for me, my anxiety comes from a place and I can say "Okay, there is a problem that I have to solve, and then hopefully it will solve the problem and then it will go away."

VidCon is not like that. I'm just anxious, and then it's over, and I just have to wait it out. The only thing I can do is distract myself, which is why I've written 4 Vlogbrothers scripts in the last week, none of which I'm using right now. I did try to use them, but I felt dishonest talking about anything except for the thing that I'm actually freaking out about right now. Which is specifically VidCon, and because I'm a professional over-analyzer of things, whether VidCon, and less specifically online video, and even less specifically the internet, is a good thing for humanity.

And this isn't usually a complicated question for me. The internet leads to more connections between people, creating more cultural and creative diversity and it increases everyone's access dramatically to more information and more free tools. So it seems to me that the internet has had a very positive effect on the world.

But there are also things I dislike about the internet. I dislike that the internet's focus on the very, very cheap and the free means that in order for platforms to make money, they have to consolidate a huge amount of culture in one place and have platforms that have hundreds of millions of people on them and that this, in turn, means that there is this massive economy of scale which then means that only a few people get very, very rich and they end up employing just regular middle class people not at all.

There are also cultural effects that I am ambivalent about. The recent user revolt at Reddit over the site's interest in not supporting hateful and actively abusive communities confuses me. And the internet is extremely effective at creating pockets of bias and misinformation that lead to the dehumanization of the opposition.

But, I think that the internet can also make people more tolerant of other perspectives just by making the existence of those other perspectives more visible. And whatever the thing is that we used to call "fame" that I'm uncomfortable calling fame now, has started to seem really weird to me.

This is probably because I now, to some extent, actually experience the effects of this "thing." But one of the really great and exciting things about online success has always been to me that that success comes along with the creation of a community and a real relationship between a creator and the people consuming the content they create. But as this culture has grown, that relationship starts to feel less real, and maybe less important, and maybe like it doesn't even really exist. And thus, online success has started to look a lot more like traditional fame. Online culture is becoming mainstream culture and I had to learn early on that VidCon wasn't just going to be affected by that, VidCon was going to be part of that. I don't necessarily want online new media to become mainstream media, but it's a thing that's happening.

This year at VidCon, Katie Couric is interviewing Ze Frank. That's so... Yeah.

Now, with the Vlogbrothers, we can actually sort of actively demainstreamify ourselves by just making like sort of more off the cuff, weird content that isn't going to be as popular but will still be rewarding for the existing community.

But VidCon is a lot bigger than us and that means that VidCon is going to change, and sometimes in ways that are gonna annoy me. I'm very lucky, and I take the responsibility seriously, that I can steer the ship that is VidCon if I really feel like I need to. But there is a current that that ship is in and I can't, and more importantly shouldn't, fight it. Because in the end, I am extremely proud of VidCon and I am extremely proud of online video.

But if these last 8 years of being involved in this stuff has taught me anything, it's that you can't bottle up and control culture. But you can, and you should, ask the members of that culture to consider its effects. The internet, I think for the first time in a long time, gave a lot of people, a lot of normal people, the feeling that they could actually have a significant impact on their culture; they could actually change things.

My hope is that everybody leaves VidCon with that understanding reinforced. That these media and these platforms, this entirely unprecedented cultural phenomenon is not just something that you experience, it's something that we are all a part of.

John, I'll see you on Tuesday. Oh god, VidCon. Oh god.