I have a YouTube channel. On this channel, I post mediocre covers of songs I like. I’ve actually been posting on this channel since 2009, but I’ve only started sharing my videos on Facebook within the past year or so, because I was previously scared of being judged. I have since decided that I care 0 percent about what anyone thinks, and if someone doesn’t like my shit, then they don’t have to watch it.
Anyway, there I was, at the ripe age of 16; posting cringe-worthy videos of me singing, accompanied by a guitar I barely knew how to play, filmed on a poor quality laptop webcam. At the same time, I was also broadcasting on the now-defunct BlogTV. In case you don’t know what that is, BlogTV was a live-streaming site that allowed people to broadcast whatever they pleased (excluding nakedness and nakedness-inclusive activities), and anyone could watch. So, an internet predator’s dream, basically.
My BlogTV show consisted of me sitting awkwardly on my bed with my guitar, destroying the integrity of the artists I chose to cover. I usually had an audience of around 15 people. Sometimes they spoke in the chatroom, giving requests and such. I even had a few regular viewers, most of them perfectly lovely and not creepy at all, so far as I could tell. Although now I’m kind of questioning why people would voluntarily subject themselves to this for any length of time:
One of my regulars went by the name “musicfan101”, and he watched my stream pretty much every time I broadcasted. He told me his name was Jason; he spoke to me via the chatroom and sent me messages on YouTube. He only ever had kind things to say, messaging me after every show to tell me how good it was, making suggestions for the next one (sit at a different angle, stuff like that). He seemed harmless, if a bit overzealous. Eventually, I felt that his constant support warranted that I make him an admin on my show, which meant that he could moderate my viewers, and kick people out if he saw fit. He was good at his job, kicking out anyone who dared express their desires for “tits or gtfo.” (Side note, has “tits or gtfo” ever genuinely worked? Has a girl ever actually just been like “Oh yeah of course let me just flash you real quick”? Why do guys continue to say it? These are the questions that keep my up at night.)
This whole thing got weird when Jason suggested that I wear a guitar strap while playing, claiming it would “make me better”. Since I played sitting down, I never felt the need for a strap, but I decided it wouldn’t hurt to try. My next couple YouTube videos featured me with a strap, and I wore the strap on my show. Jason seemed pleased by this, saying that he was “glad to see me wearing it.” Around this time, Jason seemed to have decided that since I had taken his advice about the strap, he now had licence to boss me around. He told me to do things like “wear my hair down next time,” and “wear a little vest because it would make me look famous.” He messaged me daily, sometimes twice daily, begging me to come on BlogTV. I started getting wary at this point, but I brushed it off. I was just happy to have such a devoted fan. I didn’t do what he said, because I was marginally creeped out by his desire to shape my appearance.
After wearing the guitar strap for a couple weeks, I decided I didn’t like it. All it really did was fall off my shoulder while I was playing, distracting me, and did nothing to assist my performance. My next broadcast was sans-strap. The second Jason appeared on the scene, he was asking, “Why aren’t you wearing your strap?” I explained my reasoning to him. He kept insisting that it “made me play better” and that it “made me look more professional”. I kept insisting that it wasn’t necessary, with my handful of viewers backing me up. For some reason, he then took a hissy fit and decided to kick all of my viewers out of my broadcast. Obviously not pleased with this, I un-admined him and ended my broadcast.
We then took to YouTube messaging. I wish I still had records of these messages, because that exchange was probably the most fucked-up and creepy thing I have ever personally experienced. Alas, it would seem that ol’ Jason has since either deleted his account or was terminated by YouTube, because his messages have vanished from my inbox. A few quotes that are forever burned in my memory, though:
- “If you don’t wear your strap, I’m not going to watch anymore.” (Wow, what a huge loss)
- “But you’re my best friend!” (What the actual fuck)
- “You used to be such a nice girl, but now you’re just a bitch who won’t wear her strap.” (?????)
- “If you would just wear your strap, we could be friends again.” (I wish there was something more incredulous than “?!?!?!?!?!?!?” in existence to express my level of WTF)
This guy was clearly a psychopath with some sort of strange fetish for guitar straps. I checked his profiles on both YouTube and BlogTV to see who else he was subscribed to…and surprise, it was all young girls with only a handful of subscribers (like me). I was beyond creeped out and more than a little scared. I sent Jason (if that was even his real name, because who knows) one final message, calling him out for being the creep he was, and in classic 16-year-old girl fashion, telling him to “have a nice life.” Then I blocked him, and reported him to YouTube. And I never heard from him again.
It might seem a bit strange that I’m making light of what, in reality, was something very scary and something that could have ended a lot worse than it did. I was a teenage girl grasping at any attention I could get, as teenage girls often are. Luckily, my parents instilled in me a bullshit-radar, but a girl younger, more naive, or less strong-willed than me might have complied to his demands. It could have escalated. Who knows, I’m not a scientist. I now wish that I had messaged some of those other girls in his “subscribed” box, so that I could have seen if he was doing the same thing to them. Hopefully, this serves as a cautionary tale. I’m not saying we should ban teens from the internet, or obsessively monitor their every move, not at all; I truly believe the internet is an amazing place full of information and opportunity. Don’t get too scared, parents. With the rise of the internet, everyone is becoming a lot more aware of what’s going on. My story is five years old now, and while I’m sure people like “Jason” are still lurking, I like to think that our generation is becoming savvier with each new megabyte.