Tens of thousands of people are leaving social media for Scroll Free September, former YouTube creator Matt Lee tells us about his time as a viral video artist and why he turned his back on the platform.
I was a journalist hired to make YouTube videos, including one about the release of PlayStation 4, which received five million views in a few days. The job was a lot of fun and I was very successful.
But there were a few things that finally made me turn my back on this life.
To earn money on YouTube, you need to get a huge number of views – you will not make much money in front of 100,000 views, and the big money starts to come when you get millions.
There are also certain types of videos on a platform that are run by algorithms that get these views, and I was not comfortable with the kind of it.
For example, the platform often feeds on negativity-when you make a video that says "That's bad," people love it. When you're angry, people love it, and I realized it was not very healthy.
Plus, you have a platform where the people who are successful and the people who see others as creators do the same thing: they make videos very often, publish lots of things, and are very consistent.
It creates a sense of normality on a platform, if you do not, the audience does not ask why.
Even if you succeed and do many things, you work incredibly long, and even if you do not work, you spend a lot of time going through comments and talking to people who like your videos.
In the end, especially as an adult, you can lead a life where you work most of the time, and the rest of the time you talk mainly to people who demand more work from you. The job is a lot of fun, but if you're not careful, it can sneak on you and be uncomfortable.
As humans we need a break from work and we have to talk to people about things. We have to get our ideas challenged by colleagues and friends. In the end, you have people who worked seven days a week, 10 hours a day during their teenage and adolescent years. You will not be well educated, especially if your only socialization is with a community that loves you.
We hear a lot about parasocial relationships – it's good for you to pretend that the thousands of people watching your videos are your friends, but they are not and they can not be.
The relationship can become tense and difficult and it can create incredibly dangerous egos. If you've done something wrong, but millions of people tell you that you're great, that's not good for you as a person. It can make you feel stressed and unhappy, but on the other hand, it can turn you into a rather strange person.
Part of the success on YouTube is also the daily dealings with hundreds of people. I do not think the human brain is built for it – it's just not how we wired it. Evolution is a slow process and I feel like this stuff has run away a bit and it's not good for us.