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As an Gen Z kid, I love YouTube. While the platform itself does have some flaws, the people on YouTube have changed my life. Admiring a content creator while also being a part of a community can be a really fun experience. Some of these communities even grow large enough to turn into fandoms, where people create and consume fanmade content, like fanart and fan edits.
If you’ve been on the internet for as long as I have, you’ll know that every fandom has a dark side. This phenomenon is inevitable, especially in larger fandoms. The real problem is when a fandom becomes so toxic that the normal fans become the minority. You can probably think of a few infamous fandoms who are known for being so toxic. Rick and Morty, Steven Universe, and Undertale to name a few are actually so hated, there is basically a fandom for hating them.
But I’m not here to talk about those fandoms. Aside from being problematic or viewed as cringey, the fans aren’t really harming anyone (unless they fight with each other). This is why I’d like to discuss the problem with YouTube fandoms. Unlike most fandoms, YouTube fandoms are centered around a real person. These people are not a drawing or a concept you can take and use for your pleasure. They are human beings with emotions just like me and you. Fans don’t seem to realise this, especially younger fans who are very impressionable and tend to copy what others do without thinking for themselves.
And thus, people start writing erotic fanfiction about YouTubers they like. These fanfictions get an absurd amount of views and likes from other fans. No one seems to see a problem with this. People all over the internet are taking a public figure and using them for their own pleasure without thinking twice. And to be so perverse as to share it online for that content creator to possibly find? It’s disgusting. The worst part is, nobody can really step in and change anything because the fans live in a bubble, an echo chamber where everyone collectively agrees that what they are doing is okay.
Another important factor that people tend to not think about is their relationship with the content creator. A fan is just a fan. If you watch Game Grumps every day, you are not friends with Dan Avidan and Arin Hanson, the Game Grumps hosts. Even if the episodes feel intimate with the viewer, you are just an admirer. You are a stranger, and so is the person you watch. You only know their persona, an act they put up when they are on camera. It is never okay to invade a stranger's privacy. Creating erotica fanart of Jacksepticeye and Markiplier is no different than going on a bus and picking two strangers to create porn of. While there is a stronger emotional connection in your mind between you and this content creator, it really is no different than creating erotica of a stranger.
I want to conclude this by emphasizing that there is nothing inherently wrong with fandoms. It is okay to like something or someone. Being a part of a community that shares a common interest with you can be an amazing thing. I personally spend my days off binging OneyPlays videos and other YouTubers I admire. Their stories have shaped me as a person and ultimately have changed my life. The problem is when you become obsessed. If you have no personality outside of being a fan of (insert creator), you should probably get help. This can really apply to any fandom. You should strive to be a unique individual, instead of leeching onto someone else to replace your personality with. Break free from this toxicity, and encourage others to do the same. After all, if you really do love and respect the content creators on YouTube, you will also respect their privacy and acknowledge that they are human beings.