YouTube is becoming this increasingly competitive space where the top creators are amassing more following than ever — going as far as to spur a much-publicized rivalry between PewDiePie and T-Series — but the smaller ones end up shafted by the algorithm’s preferential treatment of outer-subscribe-base likability, and recurrent uploads to the point of emotional exhaustion. This is why creative burnout is becoming much more of a prominent figure in the discussions surrounding YouTube as an endeavor, and whether it substitutes even the shittiest of hard labor jobs in an era where it has become imperative to weigh the benefits of the platform against its many ills.
It was near two years ago when I made the acquaintance of Naomi Hallcro. At the time, I had taken interest in a lot of vlogging channels and was generally on a spur of subscribing to as many as I can to fill a void of loneliness deep inside of me, and she happened to be one of the many dozens to alleviate that. I’ve since unsubscribed from many of them and have come to carve out a heightened sense of identity and belonging around creativity and inclusivity, but I couldn’t for some reason bring myself to sever the bond of engagement I had with Naomi’s content.
The first video I’d watched from her was — and still is — one of her most popular: “I Have No Friends”. In it she talks about the difficulties of isolation and her comparative inability to form a close group of friends in such a way that her entourage has been very successful at doing for as long as she can remember. That resonated deeply with me, and it allowed me to connect with Naomi’s struggle on a much deeper level. In a sense, I’d been struggling with issues of socialization since mid-2015, where I had a close group of friends who either took up military service, are now working 9-to-5’s, or continued to pursue an academic degree in the absence of current job prospects in an increasingly-vicious competitive labor market. I was the kid who sat there all day doing naught and just surfing the internet looking for interesting things to sate that hunger for a higher sense of purpose. Naomi’s creative output even if sparse, was a large piece in me able to weather the brunt of emotional burden that depression and unemployment was constantly laying on me every single day.
My mental health, while not currently free-of-flaw, is a lot better. I’ve restructured my YouTube watching habits around the things I’m legitimately interested in, but I’ve never felt the need to remove Naomi Hallcro from my sub box for many reasons — some personal, and others more symptomatic of YouTube’s current state as a whole.
YouTube has grown into a large online video distribution platform where the tools and access to media have become so transparent, that there’s no mediating quality to introducing friction between viewership, and content. Right-wing conspiracy theory videos are more accessible than ever, and YouTube top-end management seems to push the idea that the platform represents a much higher ideal than the one we see recurrently represented in the many displays of hatred to siphon the platform’s inability to duly moderate, or watch silently as malicious actors incorporate it as part of a fraudulent scheme where spectators are being sold a false idea of what their contributions actually do. Patreon plugs are of uttermost abundance, and the smaller creators who may have no interest in gaming the system, nor introducing their own set of problematic ideas, end up paying the ultimate price.
My commitment to Naomi Hallcro is partly a true admiration for the way she approaches content, but I also feel like it is a manifestation of my own sense of morality in upholding my criticism of the platform in the way that I consume it.
Think of your favorite creators complaining about the latest YouTube blunder in a pantheon of many. What does instantly jump to mind, is how seemingly quick we are to assume a position that might not be truly realized in our actions. We’re quick to denounce it, but we’re slow to pursue any avenues to amend it. It sounds innocent in isolation, but it is endemic, as it is contributing to a larger issue of ideological inconsistency in our positions as YouTube continues to give us more reason not to indulge its radicalizing, self-flagellating bullshit.
I keep seeing hot takes on social media about how no one compensates small creators for their hard work, and I’m like “Well, do you?”. It’s an interesting conundrum where attitudes of progressive tenure are being given credence to on the sole merit that they’re been propagated, and not that they’re been enacted. There’s a true desire to see change, but none the will to make it happen.
Staying subscribed despite the radio silence of Naomi Hallcro is one of many ways I dare defy YouTube’s vision on how the platform should function and how it should be marketed. I engage in people’s content because I feel like there’s real tangible value for me to gain — not out of a selfish desire to profit off of people’s misery. It’s why I’ve never pegged my favorite creators to go make videos — I realize how hard that shit is. But I think there’s an equilibrium where YouTube is ought to prioritize creator over creation. In an era where it’s become progressively more difficult to sustain a rhythm of flow in an algorithmic hellscape of capitalistic proportions, it’s important that YouTube doesn’t scare off the continuously shrinking segment of the population that legitimately thinks it’s a net positive for humanity. I for one don’t, and would rather have YouTube assume responsibility of toxic trends that have been brewing for years, but in the absence of an executive moral conscience, I’m only left to ponder its effect on society as a public service — and I realize I’m making a bold claim. But for all intents and purposes, YouTube’s collapse would bring forth societal disruption on a magnitude of scale that’s becoming harder to predict as it continues to grow beyond our wildest predictions.
Aside from the moral quandaries of YouTube’s callousness, Naomi Hallcro is one of the very few who holds an example of the platform’s future that I wish to see represented in larger segments of its demographic. She’s been co-existing with chronic illness that has prevented her from fulfilling the presumed role YouTube wishes to slot her in. Her rhythm and the pace at which she operates is so inherently incompatible with everything the platform stands for. But she manages to persevere through that with a candid sense of empathy, and a true openness about the predicaments that have come to make her life that much more difficult to bear.
I’ve been living with chronic fatigue — an albeit much lesser deterrent than Fibromyalgia but still limiting in its own way — and through watching content creators such as Naomi Hallcro who endure the burden of constant dissatisfaction with the way their lifestyle is hardly a match for their desired rate of creativity, I’ve realized that I cannot demand of my body which it cannot withstand — I know it sounds ridiculous to say out loud, but it’s true in my case, and it’s true in Naomi’s.
She did talk about at several instances that a regimen where she records a vlog’s worth of video, and edits it was becoming untenable. And that’s definitely how I feel about my own sense of creativity when I’m down and out with seemingly no story to tell. I imagine it being far more egregious with Adobe’s suite of video editing given how utterly inflexible and inefficient their tools are for small creators — if you were to produce at the rate YouTube would start suggesting your videos at, you’re basically in for a full day’s worth of labor where an assuming hobby starts to become an exercise in precarious time management. It’s not an ideal situation for most creators — including big ones — and it’s certainly the case for Naomi, wherein her woes were further exacerbated by her own mental and physical shortcomings.
Part of reconciling aspirations with becoming a more involved creator is coming to peace with the notion you may never do as well as your equally-as-skilled peers. There could be no intellectual disparity between you and someone else more physically abled, and it could prove fatal to one’s psyche to even entertain the comparison. What I’ve learned through Naomi’s patience and resolve, is that it’s okay to fail. It’s okay to not further where there must’ve been previously thought to be much progress. It’s okay to take a break and not ruminate over every single aspect of your work until it becomes a chore of unachievable perfection. Enjoy yourself while doing the things you love is the paramount concern, and it does you a major disservice to even consider the possibility you may be inadequate. What you’re doing is enough, and that’s one of the greatest lessons I don’t think anyone else has been able to convey through their decorum and philosophy as effectively as Naomi Hallcro did.
What really sealed the deal for me, is when Naomi Hallcro posted her coming out video in June of last year. It turns out the strand of commonalities was not yet exhausted, and Naomi came out as bisexual.
I don’t think there has ever been a more opportune time for me to be reaffirmed such as when Naomi did this. It’s her story to tell, but I don’t think she quite realized the scope of what she did that day. It wasn’t only a story about her personal awakening, but it was also a story wherein the fog as to what space I occupy in the LGBT+ community started to clear. She described her bisexuality in very similar terms than I do with mine, and even though I’m decidedly male-presenting but nonetheless agender, her experience of coming to terms with sexual attraction in her own life gave me a lot to chew on. Whatever it is that I was going through and the major turmoil my whole sense of identity has went through in my quest to further assert dominance over my personal autonomy, it was best exemplified in the creators that have allowed me to think outside the confines of my own bubble. And to know she’s expressed explicit support of trans people like me was merely the icing on the cake.
An expressive voice in a space where monotony and mediocrity are amply compensated is the true recipe to YouTube’s success we — I think — all subconsciously want to see happen, but very few of us engage in the intellectual effort to engage our own biases and confront the sad reality that while we cape for the common man to topple over the big corporate machine, our historic endorsements of large channels have been nothing shy of hypocritical.
Naomi Hallcro is a great YouTuber on her own merits, but she’s also a leading example for what every YouTuber should aspire to be — a beacon of hope in the deep trenches of cynicism currently reigning over our modern discourse. It’s a feel-good space where everyone gets to participate, and no one is excluded. It’s one where pretense about promoting a sense of accessibility isn’t only claimed, but is also being actualized.
She’s genuine, she’s authentic, and there’s not a spec of evil irradiating from her natural aura. I think a compliment we don’t give enough to hard-working small independent creators is that they don’t coat their dedication to an insular brand of audience engagement with the conceit that the content is exclusively theirs — and only theirs. What rather powers Naomi’s defiant swimming against the toxic current of the modern YouTube space, is a genuine understanding of what fosters a sense of community and inclusivity. It’s why I strongly recommend you subscribe to her on YouTube, give creators of her own ilk your much-needed attention, and maybe brighten up her day on social media as she seems to be in a bit of a slump — she’s trying to escape an abusive relationship that I’m in no way capable of fully comprehending the proportions of, but one I’m nonetheless willing to see remedied as quickly as possible. Contribute to her GoFundMe campaign, and consider sharing it as far and wide as you can to allow her the chance at a better life. I’ve known her work for damn near two years now, and I can personally vouch to her integrity and character, and would absolutely suggest you should allow her the generosity to finally break free from the shackles of her abusive partner — soon-to-be a relic.