The internet is a space where people share, connect, and laugh with one another—a wacky land of learning and making fun of everything and everyone. Content creators and live streamers have grown over the past decade as one of the largest sources of entertainment. Twitch—the largest streaming platform—gets an average of two million concurrent views daily. This excludes data from other streaming services like YouTube, TikTok, and Facebook.
Content, for streamers, stems from communities of viewers that bond with each other and the streamer. They watch videos together, chat together, and may even join events together. The more interesting the stream’s content is, the more viewers they’ll reel in. Ludwig, for example, a streamer on YouTube with 4.1 million subscribers, hosted a “chess boxing event” in December 2022, where other content creators battled each other, alternating between chess and boxing. Viewers got the chance to watch live or participate in the cheering at the stadium event.
This is the internet, and Ludwig chose to host this event in efforts to create online content. Despite the Chess Boxing event being planned with the intent of returning a profit, Ludwig still lost about US$200,000 dollars. This may be because Ludwig chose to stream the event on YouTube for free instead of relying on a pay-per-view system, or perhaps he may have overestimated the returns, but the reality still stands: Ludwig lost out.
For many popular streaming personalities, all of their online behaviour is understood to be “content,” even when that was not the original intention of the streamer. Valkyrae, a YouTube streamer with 3.8 million subscribers, for example, wrote in a tweet that she wanted to read her audiences’ stories and experiences with “adoption.” According to Valkyrae’s tweet, she and her mother have considered the idea of raising a baby and wanted to hear heartwarming stories from people that have gone through the process.
In a more recent livestream, Valkyrae took the blame for tweeting about this sensitive topic in a small thread. She tweeted out of excitement and curiosity about others’ adoption stories but has decided to no longer talk about it on stream. Although some reactions left her “heart devastated.”
From this experience, she’s taken into account her position as a well-known content creator and realized that she must be careful because everything she says and does can and will be taken as content. But the tone and topic of the tweet could have been pondered more before it got shared on the internet.
It gets difficult to perceive her tweet as a conversation instead of content because the replies get drowned out by her friends. As a streamer, she has many content creator colleagues, and it softens the seriousness or genuineness of her tweet.
Content creators and people surfing the internet need to learn boundaries to keep genuine questions from turning into content. Valkyrae may have tweeted in excitement, but her talk about keeping this private matter private does help transform everything into “content.”
And I’m sure that people like Ludwig will not be concerned, because their brand gets built on content. But Valkyrae acknowledges what she’s tweeted, and as much as the touching stories she’s read about adoption warm her heart, the trolls, the tweeters, and the internet will always find a way to skew her true intentions.