watch out, there’s a nutbar about

I’ve just had a thought, about the vunerability of youtubers and how they are more suseptable to scams, stalkers, control freaks, and worse, than any other digtal environment.

The reason I’m thinking this is purely because of the members actions. They are reaching out to an audience beyond their realm of everyday physical contact… they have a compelling ‘need’, a ‘desire’ to be visual and vocal to strangers. This desire to be seen and be quick to embrace new friends, lowers their normal regulatory threshold that would otherwise cause them to steer clear of certain people. And enbracing strangers is actually encouraged on the website itself. Whether thats agreed on a conscious or subconscious level, no-one can deny that there’s a definite peer pressure to collect subscribers and display your popularity.

Think about how you meet someone new in real life. We very quickly assess them visually and vocally, and normally thats enough for us to make a safe decision about if we should continue a conversation.

ok, well now convert the ease of contact on youtube, to the real world. Imagine if someone that said a random statement to you on the street, started following you, started watching you all the time, continued talking to you. They aren’t rude or offensive, just continually ‘there’ and in your line of sight. Wouldn’t that freak you out a bit? It would me. 

This happens online a lot. People talk to strangers, people follow people, people watch people. The addictive nature of people watching is well known, I’m a fan of it. Observing how other people communicate and interact is fantastic. But I’m a sane person, mentally stable, with a normally life, good education and a stable lifestyle. I’ll guess that an awful lot of people online, aren’t in my position. Many of them are in a world of escapism, perhaps unhappy, perhaps unconfident, perhaps mischievous? A lot are young, and most of those are pushing the boundaries of what is and isn’t ‘acceptable online behaviour’.

Perhaps I’m taking this all a bit too seriously? well yes, but its common to hear about dangers out there online from the perspective of the other person. But its not often you hear about the vunerability of the users who put themselves in the firing line.

Why is it considered unsafe to put your personal details online, but ok to put your life, home, friends, family, location, thoughts and words, visually and vocally online?

If I have someone’s personal details and do something with them, I’m in the realm of criminal activity, morals and ethics, bad karma and acting against all the life long education I’ve been given about the law and whats right or wrong. However if i’m watching someone 24/7, mentally collecting data about a life, and physically collecting various websites, and maybe photos and audio / video files that the individual presents, isn’t that just as bad, or worse, than having someones phone number, full name and postal address?

People are bought up to protect their private details, but youtube promotes sharing your face, life, thoughts and more.

Maybe vlogging will become socially frowned upon in future? Attitudes change…. and it’ll only take a few high profile stalking cases directly connected to youtube and similar sites to kick start it off.

Or maybe this is all no more dangerous than a teenager falling in love with a popstar and following them devotedly through magazines, gigs and personal appearances?

The difference is, those popstars had management behind them, guiding them on how to behave and controlling what is presented to the public. Youtubers aren’t protected in the same sense. Popstars freaked out when fans camped out on their doorsteps, how long before we find a high profile YT member put in a dangerous situation?

I hope it never happens, but for every zillion mellow people, it only takes one nutbar to ruin it for the masses.

Luckily there’s a movement growing, throughout the community, offering an equivilent of a ‘manual’ for rising ‘celebrities’ and new users alike:

Offering how users should protect and conduct themselves online, deal with suspected ‘nutters’ and socially share information stories and concerns in a professionally moderated environment.

The only downside is, it currently only exists in my head.


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