Ten years ago, YouTube was a completely different platform than it is today. When it first launched in 2005, there weren’t many big creators on the site quite yet. It wasn’t until the following years, from 2006–2008, that some creators started making a name for themselves.
Known as “OG (original) YouTubers,” creators such as Jenna Marbles, Smosh, Ryan Higa, Grace Helbig and Shane Dawson were among some of the first to go viral. Their old content is considered “amateur” because these creators filmed their first videos using any camera they could find, whether that be a digital camera or the webcam on their computers. Having started videos for fun, they have since turned their passions into careers.
Throughout the years, one YouTuber in particular, Shane Dawson, has remained on the site’s trending page consistently. Years ago, his videos would get recognition for his comedic parodies and sketches, but today, his videos are getting attention for another reason: their authenticity.
A few months ago, Dawson announced that he would like to film much bigger videos that are part of a series. Instead of his usual videos, such as “Trying Dumb Life Hacks,” he would like to film something that is more true to himself and that takes him out of his comfort zone. He says, “I want to connect with people from my past who I haven’t seen in a long time.”
The first person on that list was a girl named Blair Fowler, who Dawson said was his first love. Dawson started the video explaining their past relationship and why they lost contact with each other. He then contacted Fowler to see if she would like to meet up, and she agreed.
Toward the end of the video, Dawson is in his car waiting for Fowler to come out of her house, and the video ends with a cliffhanger of her opening the car door, which leaves the viewers in suspense as they wonder what will happen next.
In the following video, Dawson meets with Fowler to have an honest conversation about why they stopped spending time with each other. Dawson admits that the conversation was awkward, but it was one that needed to happen so both parties could get answers to the questions they each had.
The two-part video ends with Dawson reflecting on the conversation he had with his former best friend and explaining how he would like to make similar videos in the future, possibly confronting his bully in high school, a hater on YouTube or even a distant family member.
He kept his promise because weeks later, Dawson decided to confront the person he least expected: his father. Any of his longtime viewers would know that Dawson has had a complicated relationship with his father since he was a child. Dawson hasn’t exactly kept his feelings about him a secret, and he has used his videos as an outlet to let out his frustrations.
Similar to the video with Fowler, Dawson starts the video explaining to viewers his relationship with his father. He discloses how he wants to make the video as a way to get his father’s side of the story, admitting that because he was a child, he may not have completely understood his father’s intentions for leaving his family when he did.
He tells viewers that he wants to forgive his father and start a real relationship with him because one day, he would like to become a father himself and have his child know his grandfather. Dawson is visibly emotional while talking to viewers because it is a personal topic for him to talk about on screen.
Before confronting his father, Dawson meets with his mother to get her feelings about the situation. She says that she is happy for her son and hopes he finds the answers he needs.
In the third video of the series, Dawson finally confronts his father at Ventura Beach, a place both he and his father cherish because it’s where they spent their summers camping together. Dawson asks his father questions about his divorce to Dawson’s mother and why he left the family.
The conversation is deeply personal, so viewers might question whether they should be watching or not. After the two end their discussion, they spend some time together on the beach updating each other about their lives and discovering how much they still have in common.
Dawson closes the video by saying, “Hopefully, if you’re watching this, and you have some people in your life who you really want to reconnect with, [I hope] you’ll find the courage to do it because I promise, it’s worth it.” He adds that the video marks a new chapter in his life.
In the months following the emotional confrontation, Dawson has filmed similar videos, such as confronting a hater, setting up his friends on blind dates or switching lives with fellow YouTubers. Whatever the subject, the videos serve the purpose of building real relationships with people.
For example, since filming his “Confronting My Hater” series, Dawson has not only become friends with his “hater,” Bobby Burns, but he has also invited Burns to start a show on his channel with him. After flying him to his home in California, Dawson also surprised Burns with his very first car, leaving him in tears.
In his “I Have a Daughter” series, Dawson discovers a young girl, Sophie Pecora, on YouTube, who he believes could be the next big star. He invites Pecora and her family over to his house to film a collaboration video with the goal of getting exposure to Pecora’s channel. Just days after meeting up with her, Pecora’s channel went from a few thousand subscribers to almost half a million.
Pecora isn’t the first YouTuber whom Dawson has helped; he has also helped YouTubers such as The Psychic Twins, Alexis G. Zall, Garrett Watts, Ryland Adams and many others grow their channels into what they have become today, further proving how Dawson wants to use his platform to promote positivity and help others. After being on YouTube for a decade, Dawson has certainly come a long way from his first home videos, which were original sketches that he wrote and filmed himself.
YouTube, as it is today, has shown that it can be a place of negativity. With the recent controversy over Logan Paul’s “Suicide Forest” video, it seems that some creators have lost touch with why they started making videos in the first place. What once drove people to create content for fun has now turned into content driven solely by money.
The money-driven attitude has created a dangerous culture of YouTubers putting themselves in harm’s way for the sake of clicks. Vlogs, which were originally intended to showcase a YouTuber’s daily life, have now transformed into scripted dialogue and scenarios that aren’t so real at all.
Dawson admitted that he too has been lost in the culture of creating videos just for the sake of getting views. In one of his most recent videos, he says that because he has been on YouTube for so long, he has had times where he has lost inspiration for making videos.
Instead of creating parodies and sketches like he used to, he jumped on the bandwagon of filming videos that were trendy, such as trying girl products, eating novelty fast food items and testing weird life hacks. Although he had fun making them, he didn’t feel proud of them.
Since filming his new videos, Dawson has never felt prouder of the content on his channel. His videos have gone in a completely different direction and allow him to build closer relationships with the people in his life. He hopes viewers at home could find inspiration to do the same.
Ultimately, Shane Dawson’s latest videos prove that authenticity is still alive on YouTube. They give the reminder that despite how much YouTube has changed, there are still creators out there who are motivated by their passion for making others feel something when watching their videos. One can only hope that other YouTubers start to incorporate Dawson’s positive attitude in their own videos as well.
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