Social interaction, be it in person or on the internet, comes with a social contract; the two individuals trust that both are to a similar degree being honest and forthcoming of their identity and intent. On YouTube, we see a great deal of interaction, be it through comments, video responses, subscribing, and so forth. Many times, this interaction’s value is based on the truth or “authenticity”, as the relationship rides on this social contract. However, every person is capable of breaking this contract, be it from unmentioned intent, inaccurate presentation, and acting. The community of YouTube is of no exception, as Tubers can create a background, an image, an identity, and a message. Software and technogoly provide the capabilities, as the anomynity of the internet provides the shield.
Lonelygirl is a prime example of this breach of the social contract. Widely subscribed in her first few weeks, users connected and interacted with “Bree”, unaware that she was a fictive character. Users shared empathy, stories, and advice, believing that because of her responses earlier on, that she cared about them as well. However, some began to question her vlogging, as it was too perfect, too well lit, with inconsistent shadows, noises, and so forth. The controversy grew as the YouTube community took their sides, pro entertainment versus pro reality. Eventually, press got word of the debate and determined that she indeed was fictive, with a supportive crew. In lieu of this news, LonelyGirl soon sparked a wave of witch hunts to find out who was real, who was a scam, even -i- have been accused of being a scam. However, it was never the obvious acts, rather than suspiciously minute details, that caused youtubers to react. It was not about the clown characters or masked individuals, they have made their intents clear. “average vloggers” however, have accused and been accused of being too editing savvy, too well spoken, and too dramatic to be real. However, the real question at hand is whether they are honest about their manipulations and bending of “the truth”, of their acting, exaggeration, editing, scripting, and so on.