How People are Feeling About Shane Dawson’s New Series and YouTube

How much influence do you think YouTube has on younger generations?
Photo via Wikimedia Commons under the Creative Commons License.

How much influence do you think YouTube has on younger generations? Photo via Wikimedia Commons under the Creative Commons License.

Most YouTube viewers have probably heard of Shane Dawson. He’s been on YouTube for about 10 years, and has done everything from comedy skits, music videos and movies to conspiracy videos and documentaries. Currently, he has 18 million subscribers and his latest series – which has YouTube in a craze – has 82 million views combined. Now, these unprecedented numbers of views are not only heavily based on Dawson’s reputation and personality, but also on his highly controversial subject: Jake Paul.

Jake Paul is known for many things, and when most people hear his name, they may recount the dangerous things they’ve seen him do on YouTube.

The contentious series revolves around Dawson on the quest to find out if Paul is a sociopath. Many of Paul’s videos feature stunts that most would consider to be taken too far. They involve lots of fire and he oftentimes puts his friends in danger. Paul’s videos have made some wonder if he possesses any empathy.

However, the new series has proven to not only be about Jake Paul, but also what it takes to be a YouTuber as a whole. When one uploads a video, they have to present a version of themselves that will attract big audiences, a version that simplifies and exaggerates their actual personality. Millions of children have grown up watching people on the internet sing, play video games, tell stories, do makeup tutorials and participate in dangerous activities. Not many adults are aware of what plays on their child’s phone, or how much impact one person in front of a camera has on an audience.

“I really like [Dawson]. He feels like one of the only real people on the internet nowadays. He’s a little dramatic, but I think that’s a big reason why people like him. He’s really relatable,” says junior Skye Haines. “I feel like [Paul] could’ve been a good dude, but the direction he took things and the way he did things gave him a bad rep. And then, y’know, the lies and his brother and stuff like that.”

Haines explains that “I feel like a lot of [the YouTube Community] is fake, obviously. But like the way people will just take what these people are saying and take it to heart so much, I think is just kinda interesting how these strangers have such a big influence on other strangers.”

An adult who did not know much about YouTube and its creators as a whole, Maille O’Neil, math teacher and KMAC Coordinator said, “I think YouTube negatively affects children as it is another easy way for kids to get bullied. I think it’s easy to cyber bully on YouTube since you can hide behind a video. I think it positively affects students by giving them that outlet to promote what they are passionate about. They can gain a voice about political events and ideas or other passions and others will listen to them.”

The world of YouTube for some is a magical place to enter when life outside technology gets to be difficult, but for others it can seem like a cesspool.

“I think most of it’s garbage. Most of the stuff on YouTube is not great. There’s just a lot of weird stuff. Most of it’s for kids now, for some reason,” said senior Haley Patton. “But there are some great YouTubers, like Shane.”

Patton also went on to say that she didn’t quite get the backlash Dawson received on his new series. In the second video, Dawson and a psychiatrist, Kati Morton, dive into the characteristics and signs of sociopaths that Dawson also accompanied with some major horror editing. This is what ruffled the feathers of many. Some were upset of how dramatic Dawson was being during his videos and how he was portraying sociopaths as one would document a serial killer.

Many were concerned with how children could misinterpret Dawson’s video and go on to diagnose any kid they found weird in school and label them a sociopath because they were uncomfortable around them. The power YouTubers carry and use is sometimes underestimated, and it shouldn’t be.

Haines commented that “[Dawson] put in one video like ‘please don’t be self-diagnosing yourself or other people’, but I feel like people are gonna take that therapist – whatever she said – and use it so literally and start putting it on other people.”

YouTube creators – like Shane Dawson – who hold millions of followers, many of which are teens or even young children, can act in ways which may have positive or negative impacts on viewers.

It’s all about who you “stan” and who you don’t.