Longreads

Rather than dreaming of being a film star, kids now dream of being a YouTuber, but what does that entail? Video producers and viewers wage wars on channels many people have never heard of. At Vice, Joe Zadeh spends time in Will Lenney’s London flat to understand the life of a YouTube celebrity. That life involves money, yes, fans and self-employment. It also involves days glued to various screens, responding to followers, a fragile sense of self-worth, sleepless nights producing content and anxiety about career longevity. England has an especially robust YouTube culture, with more than 250 channels that have one million subscribers each. That’s a lot of traffic, and it generates a lot of revenue for their creators. For many of us, the idea of self-employment implies freedom, but very little about Lenney’s YouTube career seems liberating.

“I’ve never loved anything as much as I love YouTube,” says Will…

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