An OG YouTuber on how the internet has changed
Marion Honey talks about her relationship with social media, now and then.
Embedded is your essential guide to what’s good on the internet, from Kate Lindsay and Nick Catucci.
This is my newsletter, I can use it as an excuse to talk to creators I loved as a teen if I want to! —Kate
When I was a teenager, about 15 years ago, there were no pop stars whose concerts I begged my parents to take me to see, no posters torn out of teen magazines and taped to my walls. Instead, I was watching YouTube. I discovered the website by way of Harry Potter, gobbling up reaction videos to the final book and fan edits of the movies. Through that, I accumulated a stable of video creators who became the defacto pop stars of my adolescence: The Vlogbrothers (still going strong), Mememolly, CommunityChannel, and Five Awesome Girls, to name a few, and later, the British invasion that was Zoella (now a mother!) and company.
These names may mean nothing to you, but if they do, they probably mean a lot. This was the first ever era of YouTube creators, before the word “creator” even existed. If you had asked any of these personalities at the time, they would have said they were just friends who met one another on a video platform the way everyone else did on MySpace. Only now, 15 years later, is it clear they were pioneering a whole new creative industry.
But being part of the first generation of creators came with growing pains. People like Marion Honey, another early creator, were essentially test subjects for the best and worst parts of what we now know to be the realities of internet fame. After over five years away from the platform, Marion returned last year. She recently posted a video about turning the comments off on all her videos.
The video is excellent, reflecting on what drew her to YouTube as a teenager and how the platform became her first toxic relationship. There’s a lot of talk out there now about what effects social media is going to have on our brains in the long-run, and Marion’s video is a perfect example that, for those of us who already lived our lives online, those effects might already be here.
Marion and I hopped on Zoom a few weeks ago, much to the delight of my 15-year-old self. Ahead is our conversation for paid subscribers about how social media has changed, the concept of validation addiction, and how YouTube is having a renaissance.