Krzysztof is a 10+ year YouTube researcher who spends hours researching, analyzing, and uncovering YouTube trends, challenges, and media.
The Worst of YouTube (Ugliest Trends)
This list of the 10 worst YouTube trends of 2021 gives us the ugly scoop on this once communal video-sharing site.
What drama and controversy will this site spark next, and who will benefit and/or crash in the process?
10. YouTube Demonetization
Back in 2017 and 2018, there were increasing efforts by YouTube to turn their platform into the next Netflix or Hulu; however, that caused them to sideline budding talent and prominent stars by demonetizing their videos for anything not "ad-friendly."
The Adpocalypse 1.0 and 2.0 were all the rage in 2017 and 2018, with numerous brands pulling their ads from millions of videos due to violent and/or inappropriate content.
One can argue this may have started when their most dominant YouTube star, PewDiePie, made anti-Semitic jokes in a few of his videos including one where he paid people on the crowd-gig site Fiverr to hold up signs with anti-Semitic phrases.
Shortly after this, dozens of brands pulled their ads from videos, while YouTube began to strictly enforce their newer guidelines.
The results were quite jarring to everyone with some having to either quit, get a second job, charge money for their content, or set up a Patreon for subscribers to put money into to receive more videos from their favorite YouTubers.
This will only worsen as YouTube fully embraces its ad-friendly selves to stay afloat while trying to appease everybody. However, the site's algorithm has had numerous slip-ups already, and there's been a ton of complaints from other creators that the site favors certain YouTubers over others.
It was already difficult to make it big on YouTube in years past, but with more and more unfair demonetization, the problems will only get bigger.
9. Nonstop Self-Promotion
YouTubers have evolved and branded themselves with the release of popular books, TV shows, and movies. I'll never stop admiring their hard work and hustle to brand themselves.
There's too much self-promotion as a result of those successes, which turns a lot of viewers off. There are some YouTubers who have an encyclopedia of promos under every video's description.
They also sometimes spend several minutes of a video or make videos designed to only self-promote themselves to a point where it becomes obnoxious.
But surprisingly, that's not even the issue for me.
The issue is that each year, there will be a whole crop of brand-new YouTubers who will do the exact same lengthy promotion will little to no leverage. They will spam their merch, products, and their channel/s for subscribers and attempt to be slick about it.
They're clout chasers without any talent, and there's nothing worse than constantly promoting yourself and spamming when you haven't done anything to warrant such heavy advertising.
8. YouTube Drama
The YouTube drama has, in the past, escalated to crazy heights among popular YouTubers, and no algorithm will be strong enough to stop it just yet.
At times it feels like the community is falling apart with numerous back and forth attacks plaguing the site. A few hot button topics include:
- Bullying and harassment
- Racism, sexism, and misogyny
- Trademark controversy
- Controversial videos (fat-shaming, mental disorders)
The list goes on and on, but the two biggest are definitely racism, sexism, bullying, and plagiarism as well as false copyright strikes.
With bullying or cyberbullying, you have rapidly growing YouTubers taking on much smaller YouTube channels and viciously attacking the channel's content/creators. A few times, the attacks were directed towards autistic or mentally handicapped individuals.
The other major topic, plagiarism, has struck a chord with many content creators who are finally gaining support from the community. The amount of plagiarism and false copyright strikes towards those who use the "fair use" law correctly has reached an all-time high.
YouTube is no longer a sacred place for creativity; it's a cesspool of degradation/controversy.
7. Exposed Vlog and Prank Channels
Part of the YouTube drama is directly geared towards prankish vlogs or channels, and it's easy to see why.
The problem with prank channels is that the pranks involved are no longer "pranks." I see channels trying to one-up one another by coming up with more tasteless, cruel jokes that are dangerous and damaging.
Stepping on someone's shoes or calling someone a derogatory term is not a prank or social experiment; it's classic bullying. Attempting to force a girl to kiss you or worse is not funny; it's harassment (I'm looking at you, David Dobrik).
The fact that people make money off of this is disgusting, and it's only getting worse. The other side is that many of these so-called pranks appear to be staged.
There are countless YouTube videos that expose these prank channels, and I'd suggest you take a look to see the inner workings of a prank video.
6. Death-Defying Stunts
As the years go on, people will attempt to try increasingly risque challenges and tasks that could potentially harm themselves or others.
Several of these tasks will be performed by known YouTubers, but the most dangerous ones are likely to be performed by the new crop.
It's these YouTubers who'll try to outdo their predecessors by performing more outrageous and/or dangerous stunts. I fear that in the coming years, we'll be hearing about a lot of vloggers and entertainers who end up seriously injuring or killing themselves for the sake of views.
But that won't be the worst part; the worst is yet to come, and it involves outside forces.
5. YouTube Celebrity Murders
My prediction is that a popular, well-known YouTuber is going to get killed by either a crazed fan or someone jealous of their success. I'm actually surprised it hasn't already happened, but this prediction is inevitable.
As YouTube continues to transform from a niche online market to a serious entertainment industry, more people will take notice of these e-celebs.
In 2015–2017 I stated that YouTubers exploded onto other platforms through more books, movies, TV shows, podcasts, sponsors, and other mainstream outlets that extended beyond their general fans.
Well, that visibility will expose them to extra dangers, just like traditional celebrities who've been associated with countless instances of Hollywood murders.
4. YouTubers or Criminals?
One of the most famous YouTube scandals was when Sam Pepper sexually harassed a few women on one of his "prank" videos.
Other YouTubers, like Onision, had even worse scandals involving underage girls, which ultimately turned into a (poorly done) Chris Hanson documentary.
Since then, there have been several instances of TikTok or YouTube stars getting arrested for mainly misdemeanors or pranks gone wrong, and this trend won't stop anytime soon.
Young stars who suddenly become rich and famous will endure something I call the "Justin Bieber" syndrome, where they'll perform a bunch of stupid actions that'll get them temporarily locked up.
Now, this isn't anything new, but with social media and platforms like YouTube, adolescent fans will see this and may emulate those crimes.
They'll become blinded by their fanboy or fangirl love and ignore what should be common sense. I get teens doing something stupid, but we live in a generation where social media is king, and dumb actions could be seen by millions of people.
3. The YouTube Generational Gap
In recent years, we've seen the bridge widen between old/established stars and budding talent.
There has already been gossip towards the new YouTubers because of their unorthodox ways to attract subscribers and this chasm is poised to stretch further. There's also an age gap resulting and a generational rift that began in 2016.
So why is this considered an ugly YouTube trend?
It's ugly because rivalry results in drama, and I guarantee they'll be more conflict among the two groups. I feel for the up-and-comers because they have a lot to prove versus those you've been on YouTube for 5–10 years.
However, it'll all come down to talent and respect.
Older YouTubers won't respect younger YouTubers who only use their youth and good looks to embrace an audience while offering boring, generic content. A lot of gossip from the older crowd is due to those reasons, which also highlights the widening gap between millennials and generation Z.
Both generations can and should learn from each other but not without some intense conflict along the way.
2. Invasion of Privacy
The world of vlogging has increased dramatically over the past few years and will continue growing.
For those who don't know, vlogging (video blog) is filming parts of your life and posting it online. Think of it as a real Real World setting or other reality show that's unscripted and represents everyday living.
People who have vlogged for years know the ins and outs of the craft. They know about withdrawing copy-written music from their videos, they know where and where not to film, and they know not to film things they aren't supposed to.
Newbie vloggers tend to be the opposite (not all of them). They don't care what music is in their videos, who they film, and what they're filming. They'll violate a bunch of copyright laws without realizing it, which could quickly become troublesome.
In 2017–2020, our concerns for privacy and security reached a boiling point, so it's no surprise new technology to replace the standard password is getting created.
The last thing we need is a bunch of irresponsible teens and young adults oblivious to privacy concerns for their selfish pursuits.
1. Lack of Accountability
Remember when it was okay to make jokes about people's weight, height, skin color, gender, sexual orientation, etc., on YouTube . . . oh wait, it never was.
Apparently, a lot of YouTubers and their fans forgot because whenever someone gets canceled, everyone blames "cancel culture" for it.
I hate to tell you this, but it's okay to cancel someone if they included racist, sexist, misogynistic, and other discriminatory statements into their skits, videos & podcasts. However, it's also important to note a creator's growth on YouTube and whether or not they shifted their content for the better.
If someone made a few bad jokes years ago, but today they've become a role model that helps others, then I think they deserve another chance; however, it's necessary to note that those hurt by your statements do not have to accept your apology.
On the other hand, if YouTubers have done awful things in the past, apologized, but then continued to do awful things today then they do not deserve to be platformed. The quantity and level of scandal/s also matter.
Unfortunately, there are far too many creators that are able to keep sponsors, brand deals, and monetization rights despite having a history of endless problematic content.
I've seen small channels get wrecked by advertisers because they said one thing they weren't supposed to, while huge channels who've done terrible things for years continue to gain YouTube's support.
So when will the hypocrisy end, and when will fans actually start canceling people instead of pretending to?
I'm afraid we'll never know, but perhaps with the 2020/2021 canceling of Shane Dawson, David Dobrik, James Charles, and others, we may finally start seeing some accountability though I'm not getting my hopes up.
Questions & Answers
Question: Why can’t YouTube just put a “Warning this video contains...” at the beginning of the video rather than demonetize the video?
Answer: It's a good idea; TV shows have been doing that for decades, but the amount of content is so massive that it would take a herculean effort to go through each video and implement these changes.
The YouTube algorithm is still in its early stages, and I have a lot of issues with it, but it's the only way billions of videos can get scanned and sorted out. I absolutely think YouTube should create sections for teens and adults, so that advertisers and the algorithm knows what to expect.
I have a feeling that's where we're heading next because if every video gets demonetized, then YouTube content creators will look toward other platforms.