I’ve been struggling trying to find the words to properly summarize VidCon 2010. I would not say that it was the best weekend ever nor was it far from perfect, but VidCon made a huge impression on myself and all those in attendance. The one resounding point of VidCon that kept on echoing throughout the weekend was community.
How does one explain community? Anyone can discuss it, write about or describe it, but community is meant to be experienced. I’m struggling how to describe my experience of VidCon, in hopes that I can truly capture and reflect the experience I had this past weekend. So tonight, I was talking to my YouTube friend Terri (Tezzitoo) from Australia, who could not make it to VidCon, and she told me to start from the beginning. And that’s when it hit me. The beginning means the community and what’s more community than experiencing it. And I truly experienced community at VidCon, but I am also experiencing community as I’m chatting away with Terri.
VidCon is a conference that was organized by the YouTube community for the YouTube community. It wasn’t like YouTube gatherings of the past where people would come together and hang out. VidCon was meant to gather the community together and celebrate the community.
Though the average age of attendees were under the legal drinking age of 21, the age difference didn’t prevent people of all types connecting, celebrating, dancing and most importantly, bonding as the YouTube community. I had a the opportunity to talk to a middle age mother who brought her 14 year old daughter and her friend to VidCon from Virginia. The mother, though not out of the loop to technology and social media, was blow away by the energy and positivity of the YouTube community. It is because of YouTube that her daughter is passionate about changing the world and is striving hard at an early age to make a difference. Barriers that were present for teenagers no longer exists because of the YouTube community. The mother credits YouTube for the opportunities that her daughter has, which she never thought would be possible.
What makes it all possible for the younger audience of YouTube is the passion and positivity of the video content creators. Most major YouTubers who make videos for the young community are between the age of 20-32. From comedic parodies to inspiring vlogs, the content creator realizes the importance of their audience. Their audience looks up to them and listens to them; in return, they respond by connecting with their audience. There is no dichotomy between the content creator and the audience. Age in itself is irrelevant. What matters is the community; a community where everyone is equal. One may be more talented than the other, but it does not put the content creator on a pedestal. Everyone is the same.
I was privilege enough to attend VidCon with Ashley, Jenn and Nico. We made up an unofficial 20SB delegation. Jenn and Nico were going for work and as outsiders. Ashley, though not involved in the YouTube community as I am, is very well aware of the awesome that is present at VidCon. As for myself, I knew a lot of YouTubers coming into the conference. There were still many more that I want to meet and befriend with, but to the 20SB and blogging community, I’m considered as a YouTuber.
Watching people run around, meeting people and celebrating the YouTube community, it caught each of us off guard. (Read the VidCon reactions from Ashley, Jenn and Nico). What got me was how alive, present and tangible the YouTube community. I’ve been to large and mini YouTube gatherings before, but nothing could prepare me what was before me. A community alive, thriving and living out the meaning of community.
Seeing the YouTube community truly alive and before me for the first time was overwhelming. As an active participant of the community, I felt distant and alone. I never seen so many people with a common interest and passion in one place before. I didn’t know how to respond. Everyone was more connected and famous than myself, I wondering if I could even connect and contribute to this community. I was intimidated and scared.
If there’s one thing that the YouTube community has shown me over the years, it’s extremely warm and welcoming. Even though I was caught off guard at the scale of awesome before me, it was the awesome that reminded me why I am so involved. From John Green yelling, “Hey! Phampants is here!” aloud in the vendor room, to Monica stopping to give me a hug as she scurried around leading the speakers around or even meeting Amanda for the first time; I realized that this community, though large, is truly very close and tight knit. It’s the close bond that we have that makes us so supportive of each other and passionate for what we do.
It’s is the close bond of the community that I had the honor of carrying two postcards around to collect signatures of other YouTubers. Terri and Kevin (BusanKevin), both who have been extremely supportive of my work on YouTube, could not attend VidCon. So I decided to bring VidCon to them as I searched for YouTubers that they wanted to meet and have those people sign the card for them. It is because of the community that I had the opportunity to do something amazing like this and to connect the community present to the community that was abroad.
With all this talk about community, the YouTube community itself kept on reminding each other of an extremely important note throughout the weekend. Ze Frank spoke it best by saying at his keynote, “Authenticity is hard work.” Anyone could be anyone else, but to be truly yourself takes a lot of work. And every single YouTuber I met, big or small, repeated that one way or another: “Be yourself,” “Do what you love,” “Be authentic,” “Be proud of who you are.” And it’s because of the authenticity of YouTube, trolls aside of course, that makes the community so successful. As long as you are yourself, you’re able to go a long way.
Flying home, I had the joyful luck of sitting next to Craig (WheezyWaiter) and Peter (PeterCoffin). We could not give more resounding praise to a fantastic weekend and thank the Vlogbrothers enough for organizing VidCon. From big timers like Craig and Peter to a nobody like myself, we all agreed that VidCon energized us and reaffirmed why we are part of such an amazing community. When I asked them how they’re able to do what they do, they shared the same answer: they don’t do anything special, they’re just themselves.
This is why VidCon struck me hard and impressed me greatly. It was a YouTube conference for YouTubers by YouTubers. It consists of people who are authentic and genuine that comes together to form a greater community. A community that is welcoming and treats each other like equals. A community that is passionate about their work and about promoting good to changing the world for the better. The YouTube community and VidCon never forgot to be awesome.