Daily Travel Vloggers and YouTube. Passion or Poison?

Daily Travel Vloggers. If you subscribe to them on YouTube, the odds are you assume they have a perfect life. Travelling the world, working with prestigious brands, staying in luxurious destinations and rubbing shoulders with some of the YouTube and celebrity elite. As a subscriber, you are drawn into their world. Every. Day. Of. Their. Life. You become their friend, you turn on your notifications, you follow them on Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat so you don’t miss a thing, and you feel a part of their life…. until they quit.

Travel and daily vlog revolutionary, Casey Neistat, accumulated nearly 7million subscribers on his YouTube channel, known for his unique editing, risk taking and general not giving a f*ck attitude. When Casey quit, the internet lost its mind and I lost a friend. This was the loss and spark that ignited my curiosity about the reality of vlogging and YouTube. To question, challenge and rethink the perceived perfection of this world, and shatter it with the untold, unedited, unscripted and unpaid story.

Success is predicated on the intensely personal. You still have to pump out a video every day, and it has to feel intimate. You could afford to hire a crew to come document your life, sure, but fans expect you to be holding the camera, sharing your secrets, and opening up every facet of your life. (Popper, 2016)

My goal is to create an educational and informative website along with a mini documentary. A ‘go to’ for all things vlog, travel and YouTube related. A critical eye on the industry and to provoke people to question, challenge and consume with intention and thought. My goal is to create a new research piece every other week, focusing on various aspects of the daily travel vlogging world…

  1. Vlogging, capturing daily life and our sense of self
  2. Technology, cameras & gear (including 360 video)
  3. Sponsored content
  4. YouTube, traditional media and online content
  5. Travel & Tourism
  6. Quitting YouTube – the future of vlogging

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Obviously in this early stage, much more research and critical thinking needs to go into how I’m going to approach these areas and then present them. Given the lack of research in this field, it may be difficult but it just means I may need to undertake some of my own research and content analysis. But to get us started, let me present Louis Cole aka. Fun For Louis.

In August 2016, Louis travelled to North Korea where he was escorted around the country side with his tour group. This vlog series received extremely critical feedback, including news networks accusing him of being paid by the North Korean government to create positive propaganda (Butterly, 2016).

“I am not an investigative journalist. I don’t really do political commentary and there are other places on the internet you can go to find those kinds of things.” Louis Cole

Whilst watching his vlogs you can appreciate his enthusiasm to showcase a bright and positive side to North Korea – one that is not often the narrative. However as Adam Liptak states ‘travel is inherently a political exercise’ (Liptak, 2016). How much doest this travel influencer, influence, shape or potentially manipulate our ideas of other nations, their people and international relations?

There’s also many questions to address about the platform itself. YouTube, and YouTubers are feared among the traditional media industry as they are a direct threat to their survival in this highly competitive environment. ‘Free online video, especially YouTube, is a vital channel for millennials; nearly half of them (46%) use YouTube every day versus 12% of non-millennial’ (L.E.K Consulting, 2016). The viewing habits of consumers (or should I say their valued audience or family) tell us that people want to be able to access content in an instant, easily and freely. And as explored in the Journal of Marketing and Competitiveness, users are engaging in this content because it’s entertaining and authentic.

“User generated content producers, bloggers and other amateur journalists are creating news content, and people who have been made subjects of news articles are responding online, posting supplementary information to provide comments, context, and counterpoints. Increasingly, the public is turning to online sources for information and consumption matters, such as bloggers, user reviews, and tweeters, reflecting the growing trust in alternative media; and, to user generated content produced by the mass media for entertainment purposes” (Mohr, 2014)

Screenshot 2017-03-20 17.49.01.png
A snapshot of Fun For Louis’ ‘perfect’ Instagram Page

This topic embodies the dilemmas and challenges we face when examining cybercultures. ‘Tensions between representations and reality.’ I’m excited to explore our sense of self, physical location, virtual reality, technology, tourism, sponsored content and ultimately answer if any of this really matters?

References

Butterly, A 2016, ‘Vlogger Louis Cole denies North Korea paid for his trip’, BBC, 18 August, viewed 18 March 2017, http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/37114758/vlogger-louis-cole-denies-north-korea-paid-for-videos-of-his-trip

L.E.K Consulting, 2016 ‘Life-Stage Analysis of Millennials highlights major threat to traditional TV’,  L.E.K Consulting,  13 January, viewed 18 March 2017, http://www.lek.com/press-releases/life-stage-analysis-millennials-highlights-major-threat-traditional-tv

Liptak, A 2016, ‘You can’t vlog in North Korea and call it apolitical’, The Verge, 19 August 2016, viewed 18 March 2017, http://www.theverge.com/2016/8/19/12543958/louis-cole-north-korea-vlogger-youtube

Mohr, I 2014, ‘Going Viral: An Analysis of YouTube Videos’, Journal Of Marketing Development & Competitiveness, Vol. 8, No.3, pp. 43-48, Business Source Complete, viewed 20 March 2017

Popper, B 2016, ‘Why YouTube’s biggest stars keep quitting’, The Verge, 29 November, viewed 18 March 2017, http://www.theverge.com/2016/11/29/13776894/pewdiepie-quit-casey-neistat-vlog-youtube-vloggers

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