At the end of 2017, I had lots of people ask about best and worst products, and it was hard to choose, but there is one thing that really bothered me…
When I started reviewing there were some awesome men and women out there doing a fantastic job, like most of us, I had my favourites, those I felt I could identify with and shared vaping styles with, so naturally I gravitated and subscribed to them. These individuals were the inspiration for starting reviewing for me, Rip’s coil building videos used to be awesome, Grimm was always like an American buddy getting excited over the same stuff I did, Ruby had a fantastic view on things, Todd’s easy and relaxed very Scottish approach, Scott’s crazy quality, Damian’s look at aspirational stuff I could never afford, Phil’s incredibly in-depth and factual films, and even Indoor Smoker’s quite mental and entertaining videos all made up the mixed bag that was my subscription list.
Obviously, we are all different so I’m sure you liked or subscribed to some, all, or none of the above, and there is no ‘best’ but for me, I was drawn to people I identified with, people that gave me the information that I was interested in, or plainly people that entertained in their approach and made me feel good about watching a video. I remember watching vlogs wishing they’d be twice as long as I sat their with a cuppa and a vape and having a jolly good time. Plumes of Hazard came along and were great for the same reasons, again, informative, entertaining, and often in excess of an hour, many nights were spent waiting for 2am in the UK so I could watch it live.
Those to me were the ‘good old days’ of reviews, fun, entertaining, factual, and identifiable. To this day, I watch YouTube videos and films on TV etc because of escapism, they make me feel happy, the immersion into a narrative that can make you laugh, cry, or think, but still leave you coming away from it feeling good that you’ve just spent the last couple of hours deep diving into entertainment and left it a happier or more knowledgable person.
My first ‘review’ as if you could call it that, was on October the 30th 2014, for a local group I was part of, and something that scared the pants off me, but it seemed fun, and very quickly I got the bug. I felt could never emulate the people I watched many times a week, but it was a creative outlet for me that took me away from whatever else was going on and gave me a focus (which I’ve discussed in previous blogs). Over the next 3 years or so, that bug grew, I enjoyed what I did immensely, and once I started to improve my product, or end result by learning about lighting, cameras, editing, etc, the desire to be better seemed to translate well to a growing audience. I’ve always said that I wanted to essentially be the viewers mate down at the pub chatting about vaping gear in a way that I understood and that I would watch, and as mindblowing as it is, my dubious sense of humour, dodgy laugh, and relaxed approach attracted an amazing viewership, and that’s something I will never fully wrap my head around but will be eternally grateful for.
I enjoyed what I did so much, and I think that came across on camera, it was a great time to get involved in YouTube.
As time went on I became friends with other people that were also reviewers, not because of the industry we were in, but because we were people that had similar opinions, similar likes and dislikes, and similar personalities. YouTube or reviewing had nothing to do with it, I’m confident the friends I’ve made in the industry would have been just as plausible if vaping hadn’t been involved. Drama was always kept at a minimum or rarely shouted about in public, like regular people in a non-vaping world, if you had an issue with someone you either called, emailed, or spoke to them, or you just unsubscribed from their channel and moved on with your life.
Then something changed, and not for the better.
YouTube and other social media seems to have taken a really weird turn, not the services, but the creators, the people that populate them with content. Instagram is overrun by women in bras trying to sensually blow a cloud with varying degrees of success, countless individuals will post 4 terrible pictures and have in their description that they’re looking for sponsors, people creating accounts under false names, false identities, ripping off other content, and all for views, followers, validation.
Were they not hugged enough as a child or is this simply a sign of the times, how 2018 has changed, and a narration of how instant gratification is the new drug, how social media has fucked up our principles and turned us into like hunting scavengers willing to prostitute ourselves for the sake of popularity?
YouTube has not escaped this new desperation for acceptance, there seems to have been a shift in priorities, and it’s quite frankly saddening.
In the world of newspapers, there has always been tabloid journalism and broadsheet approaches, one going for gossip, untruths, and popularity (equalling money, drama causes sales), now while broadsheet integrity is always going to be up for debate, there has been a very significant divide, you wouldn’t have seen the financial times publishing a story on Kim Kardishan’s implants unless it was directly responsible for the share price going up in silicone, but the tabloids would have dined out on it for weeks.
There seems to be a similar divide happening now within vape reviewing, and that’s just sad in my opinion. Drama and insults seem to be the new popular approach to gaining views, subscribers, followers, and I really don’t understand why. We mentioned that it could be the state of the planet in 2018 above, but this new currency to gain popularity seems to have overtaken the desire to actually do a good job, provide better videos, and get out content to the masses that the creator is proud of. I sincerely cannot see how anyone could rant their face off about people they don’t know, and once released to the big wide world sit back and say ‘yep, proud of that, some of my best work’.
Clearly not all ‘reviewers’ will follow this approach and the ones that don’t get involved with this desperation for numbers generally are clear for the world to see, the negative individuals will always have their own followers in the same way that Jerry Springer/Jeremy Kyle will have an avid viewership. We all like to know we’re doing a good job, and numbers often reflect that, but what people seem to miss is that if you have 1,000, 50,000, or 200,000 subscribers/followers, you still aren’t anything special, you’re still not a rockstar, and your primary reason for having what you’ve got is to provide content on products to help people, nothing more.
As unpopular as this statement is going to be, I have a huge respect for Rip Trippers, as a businessman and as a reviewer, he’s had way more than his fair share of hate and negativity, but he’s kept his focus on providing content for his viewers that is based on the reason for his channel and media. Sure, he’s made a few pretty dodgy statements, but the man has been doing it since April 2012 and as far as I know, has never released a public video blasting other people.
With over a million subscribers now he is by far the biggest vaping YouTuber in existence, all without engaging in name calling negative crap, and providing his audience with ever improving content. Love him or hate him he deserves respect for achieving something nobody else has done, and keeping his cool and professional attitude (for the most part and knuckles aside).
Just because there are a lot of us reviewers out there now doesn’t mean we have to all get along – do you get along with everyone in your workplace? Doubtful, because we’re still all individuals with different approaches to life, different likes and dislikes, and to be friends with everyone is ridiculous and unrealistic. Respect is also earned and not given without reason, and as such like in life there are people I respect and others that I think are awful human beings, being on YouTube has no bearing on the subject.
One thing I do disagree with though is the tabloid journalism approach to garnering popularity, hey if you love it then fair play to you, but we’re all allowed an opinion. I have haters, I have people that don’t like what I do, and that’s absolutely fine with me as it has zero bearing on my existence, but for someone to concentrate their time and effort on disliking me or anyone else, they either have very little going on in their own world or are so desperate for attention that in fact I feel sorry for them.
What happened to the days of ‘if you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all’, you know, when we had manners, we treated people how we wanted to be treated, and the word ‘snowflake’ purely meant a bit of frozen water that fell from the sky.
It’s wishful thinking, but I do believe that a lot of us could take a page out of Rip’s playbook, and concentrate more on what we’re doing with our own stuff rather than worrying about other people. Trust me, the more popular you get on these things the more crap it brings along with it anyway, so should the drama hunters ever reach the numbers they feel they deserve through an unfounded sense of entitlement, I’m sure they’ll wonder why they pursued it with such ferocity in the first place.
I’m not perfect, I’m confident I’ve been a knob at times, but I always try to be respectful, cheerful, and polite whether it’s in person or online, and while it’s certainly very challenging at times, not engage in the red-top tabloid kerfuffle that inevitably is part of the world we live in now.
One thing I will always do for the time I spend on social media is try to be better, try to improve what I do for the sense of achievement, but also because I want the content to be as watchable and enjoyable for the viewer as I found in the ‘good old days’ – but now with better cameras.
Watching a public argument is always distasteful in the real world, uncomfortable, and rarely has a positive influence on your life, so online should be no different. I’ll take watching re-runs of Parkinson over Springer any day of the week, but hey, that could just be me. It would just be nice to see a little professionalism in the industry, if you don’t like me and feel the need to voice it, send me an email and tell me why, not the base level ‘You’re a c**t’ statement that seems prolific in comments sections across all the platforms and for all creators.
Let’s have a crack at being adults, it’s not necessarily asking yourself ‘What would Rip do’, but ‘What would a decent person do’, it seems to have worked well for non-vaping content creators so why should we be any different.
We could all do with being a little less page 3 in the tabloids, and a little more factual broadsheet, and that’s not just in vaping, but in life in the opinion of your humble scribe.
It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.
The Vaping Biker
As always, I’m interested to hear your comments, but any comments bashing other reviewers will get deleted, this isn’t a name and shame kind of article.