(TIME) — YouTubers tell their fans they share a connection. Here's how that can go horribly wrong.
The desire of obsessive fans to harm famous people is not new, but YouTube has created a new dynamic between fans and stars.
In an Ipsos Connect survey, 47% of millennials admitted that YouTube improved their mood or health. Rather than picking up the phone to a friend, people are turning to their favourite YouTuber.
Ian Danskin, a YouTuber who posts essays on new media, film and video games, says: “Internet fame simultaneously creates the sense that a person is a celebrity but also that that person is your friend. Having those two things happen at the same time (not only is this person famous and getting judged by the rules of famous people, but also you have an intimate access to them and judge them in the way you would if your friend was acting badly) is weird.”
The desire of obsessive fans to harm famous people is not new (John Lennon was assassinated in 1980 and Gianni Versace in 1997 by fans who felt some kind of ownership or relationship with them), but YouTube can stoke that obsession even further. Firstly, there is the apparent closeness of the relationship between star and fan, with the creator throwing out mentions in their videos and social media posts and staring directly into the lens – and thus the viewer’s eyes. Secondly, those stars are expected to be more accessible than conventional celebrities, as shown by the Grimmie meet-and-greet, common to pop stars and YouTubers. More than a quarter of people aged 18-24 told the pollsters asking them for this piece that they know KSI (another famous YouTuber) well.