Throwing Shade VS Having an Opinion

This is another one of those posts that I’ve delayed or given up on in previous attempts. I guess the fear of being taken the wrong way, or perceived as negative nancy has put me off….which is in essence the crux of the content of this post.

The blogging/YouTube world has seen a fair bit of argy-bargy lately. There’s been blogs shared around social media of posts calling out other bloggers for things they have or haven’t done. There’s been mardy tweets or comments that single out certain influencers, without actually naming them, but being descriptive enough that the majority of people immersed in the industry would easily be able to decipher who they’re talking about. There’s been a lot of comments made about the YouTube community as a whole also nestled within Vlogs too. We’ve become sadly accustomed to unfair and sometimes frankly disgusting comments from a small minority of YouTube commenters, but this is a different thing all together, this is bloggers/YouTubers turning on/challenging members of their own community. Isn’t this behaviour incredibly disloyal to a community who are already having to bat away frequent criticism and misconceptions from those on the outside?

But do some of the commentators and their seemingly negative opinions have validity? I couldn’t help but wonder…

I love seeing other women do well. I love to see them succeed but also applauded for their achievements, and I will admit to feeling a particular thrill when it’s within an industry or environment that has previously been, or is currently deemed male dominated. However, I don’t buy into the idea that we should support all women (the way they behave or think) no matter what, with no questions asked. To me that suggests that we don’t have the ability to be challenged, that we are absent of confidence in our point of views, or lacking in mental strength to fight for what we believe. It could also falsely connote that as a sex we are unable to take criticism or admit faults in our character, mindset or thought process. I’ve made, and almost made, some very foolish decisions in my time, but I’m very grateful that I was, and continue to be called out on them by my girlfriends. I may not have enjoyed the experience of my mistakes being highlighted at the time, but my goodness am I glad that they were willing to bring them to my attention.

Perhaps I inadvertently stumbled on something there… Is it the fact that it’s not our friends pointing out these issues/potential flaws, why we feel so up in arms about it. Is it the fact that although fellow bloggers, they are still relative strangers, and we feel that they have no right to offer up opinions on things we’ve not invited them to give input on. Hmmmm….I digress

I feel like we are heading towards a climate where having an opinion isn’t accepted, and that having one (particularly if it challenges a much loved influencer) instantly puts you in the bitter or bitchy category. Yes, lots of people expressing these opinions are coming from a place of jealousy, venom, or in a quest of the attention that inevitably follows a provocative tweet. However, some are merely flagging up issues or worrying developments within the industry which actually need some attention – like many of the big YouTubers not clearly stating when their video is an AD for example. (To be fair though, the rules confuse the hell out of me too, so i’m sure I’m not alone!)

I personally feel the terms ‘throwing shade’ is being used too readily. We should be just as careful about accusing people of throwing shade as we should be of well…actually throwing shade.

I can’t stand the notion that any person would feel stifled of an opinion, but us girls should feel particularly wary of this, particularly as we have fought so very hard to be able to have an opinion that people actually get to know about!

So instead maybe we need think about how these opinions are voiced. I think the main issue stems from the lack of fairness within the arguments, the lack of judgement and measure in their approach to expressing or forming of their opinions. Sometimes the people that post or upload these bold statements haven’t considered all sides of the given topic, and more frustratingly are not willing to listen and accept those that wish to respond to them and attempt an adult debate. There there’s one’s that are completely senseless, cruel and unjust…but they don’t even warrant discussion here as they just get a simple ‘STOP IT’ from me. But conversation and debate is such a necessary practice is a world swarming with different cultures, points of views and situations, so I just think we need to pause for thought before we hurry in with our forceful comments. After-all most of these issues are complicated and convoluted, with no clear-cut right or wrong. And you should never assume to know all the facts, even as a viewer who has watched every one of that person’s videos.

Recently I have seen a lot of people getting offended and puffed up about the YouTubers and Bloggers who produce high-end content, featuring designer goods and luxury holidays – citing it as un-relatable, wasteful or extravagant. Like those tweeting critics I too worry that young and impressionable kids will gain an unrealistic vision of what life is or should be like. That eventually they’ll feel a lacking, or that their life is inferior, if they are unable to emulate the slightly ‘unrealistic’ lifestyle they have been watching, portrayed by their favourite influencers. However I watch reality shows like Made In Chelsea and The Rich Kids of Beverly Hills, and yes, okay occasionally I feel pangs of jealousy when they go on shopping sprees or head to St, Barts (for some arguments), but the overriding thing I get out of watching them is pure escapism. I zone out of my daily stresses and get wonderfully lost in their luxurious lives, which are so very different and alien to mine – like watching another species on a David Attenborough show, it’s viewed with a level of fascination. In this terrifying and heartbreaking world we find ourselves in, escapism is incredibly valuable and it’s actually very important we have these online destinations that are capable of transporting us to more frivolous worlds…just so that we can forget for a few minutes. 

What saddens me most about these particular comments is that they are taking the joy out of someones success. Okay some people have been relatively lucky, but most of successful bloggers have been working their botties off to get where they are and to reach the point where they find themselves in a position where they are invited on amazing trips or making enough money to buy some lovely things. It’s their money, and theirs to spend however they wish, whether that be more frequent hauls at Primark or a splurge on a designer bag in Selfridges. 

If you are looking at their content with positivity firmly in mind you could deduce that their content is aspirational, that it may encourage others to work hard  in pursuit of living a similarly luxe life. If you are less inclined to see the best though you could be forgiven for worrying that it is encouraging people to pursue YouTube (over other career avenues) because they deem it a fast-track route to financial reward.

Essentially the point I’m making is there’s usually a lot of grey matter, and I can often see merits in both side of the debate, so I think it’s important we always try and gain a well rounded understanding. If we really feel a need to weigh in on the subject, do so in way that is helpful. I’d like to see people come in peace, but in pursuit of educating, or encouraging healthy conversation. Maybe doing it privately over email may be be a nicer approach. There’s something about the public nature of these damning blog posts and tweets that makes it feel too much like an attack.

I hate that anyone should be made to feel bad or less-than because of the content they make. Everything is valid, and there is room for every style of video on YouTube – how dull it would be if we all created the same content. So choose who you subscribe to according to your preferences and  try not to get mad if their content changes over time – remember they are growing up and evolving as humans, and it’s quite natural for interests and goals to change. Please also remember this is their job and they should be able to produce content that allows them to maintain their chosen lifestyle, whatever shape that comes in. If your interests and preferences no longer match or you don’t gel with them like you once did, maybe there’s no need to tell them so. Why not have a gander round YouTube, as I guarantee there is another creater on who can tick the boxes for you.

As the YouTubers and bloggers grow and change, the platforms and what they provide for the authors and uploaders alters too. Blogging, at least when it began, was an outlet for us…a whizz kid verson of a diary for many. It was a place they could vent, outpour, and say whatever the heck they wanted…with fairly a low risk of repercussions. These days with Twitter, and certain YouTube Gossip sites, and the huge following you can have on your outlets, the things you say can spread like a toxic weed or ray of sunshine, depending on the nature of the words.

My problem has always been that I’m a people pleaser, I don’t like to cause a fuss or ruffle feathers. My friends, family and bf are constantly telling me off for being a doormat who does’n’t tell people what they think even when they really really deserve or need to hear it. This means I’m one of these people that allows frustrations to bubble under the surface, sometimes to the level where my eyes sting and a red blotchy rash travels from my chest to my neck. Back before blogging was a career or something that could go viral, I could blog merely as an attempt to relieve myself and sometimes I would even find a resolution through the process of writing down the conundrum or issue.

These days if the problem isn’t involving Simon of course, then my boyfriend is probably the one that has to deal with those rage filled rants or woe-is-me wobbles. I feel like even Twitter isn’t a space I can truly say what I think anymore, as I can’t help but worry how my honest and somewhat hasty tweets may be received by current or potential employers, or that my family themed brain farts may be discovered by my mother when she does her random google searches of me. But the things I want to vent about are largely about the people who are most active on social media, so being frank puts me at serious risk of causing a kerfuffle, and actually making things a lot harder for myself in this already cliquey industry.

So, I certainly feel like my freedom of speech is somewhat hindered at the moment. I’ve found myself self-censoring, deleting tweets before I press the post button, and editing chunks of very real talk out of my vlogs. Should I just just accept that that’s just the way things are, and continue to play it safe and keep my views to myself? Or should I be that person to speak out when I think something important needs to be said, and run the risk of people making the assumption that I’m bitter or jealous? I’m a scaredy cat, so this blog post may well be the extent of my opinion posts for a while….

So I guess I’m generally backing up what most people are saying on the topic. Congratulate and cheer as much as possible, but more importantly when it’s deserved. Support and encourage your fellow bloggers, as you well know how hard it really is to grow and succeed in this industry. Don’t be needlessly negative, but if you really feel something needs to be said do so in a pleasant, mature and and intelligent manner. Don’t do yourself a disservice either…After-all how awful it would be if a blogger were deemed as horrid as a pesky troll.

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