Nikita Dragun losing subscribers on YouTube today in the thousands says a lot about the state of our culture right now.
I’ve recently become acquainted with the world of YouTube.
And like most people, I’ve spent the better part of this past week keeping up with all the developments in the James Charles vs Tati Westbrook scandal.
We could have capitalized on the situation and written about it here on the site for extra clicks, but that’s not what we’re about. I’m a firm believer that gossip is generally toxic and harmful and it’s not something I’m interested in promoting here.
However, after watching YouTube beauty guru Nikita Dragun’s video yesterday, titled ‘What Really Happened …’ I feel the need to speak up.
I’m not going to weigh in on my feelings on James Charles or Tati, because I believe that like all internet dramas, there’s more to this story than meets the eye, and many elements of it are becoming incredibly toxic, for all parties involved.
But I do think it’s interesting to note how James Charles’s close friend Nikita Dragun has reacted to this situation. Because I think it says a lot about how problematic our cultural take on ‘friendship’ is becoming.
Now, in the rare chance you aren’t across what happened, after YouTuber Tati Westbrook publicly denounced her friendship to Charles in a video titled ‘Bye Sister’.
The video revealed her concerns with some of his behavior (you can go watch it here if you haven’t seen it), Charles put out his own apology video, simply titled ‘Tati’ then essentially went into hiding. The internet promptly put out memes and videos enthusiastically agreeing with Westbrook and taking the beauty YouTuber down. To the tune of a historic loss of three million subscribers.
The *lack of* reaction
To me, this wasn’t the most shocking part of the whole controversy.
To me, it was the reaction of Charles’s so-called friends, who were nowhere to be seen. Until, that is, fellow YouTuber and buddy of Charles, Nikita Dragun, announced this on her Twitter feed:
good morning draguns! i’ll be uploading a very shady youtube video today. i need to get some things off my chest ???
— Mama Dragun (@NikitaDragun) May 16, 2019
Naturally, the internet waited with baited breath for what Dragun would reveal about the past week’s events.
Instead, a few hours later, Dragun put out this:
I’ll spare you the 21-minute watch time with a spoiler: this is one big ad for Dragun’s beauty line, Dragun Beauty.
There is not one single mention of the James Charles scandal the tweet and video title so clearly reference in the entire video. This, despite Dragun’s video description imploring her viewers to: ‘watch until the very end’ because ‘There’s been a lot of things said online and I’m finally sitting down to address them.’
Dragun even went as far as to include fellow beauty guru Gabriel Zamora, who has become personally embroiled in this past week’s drama, in her thumbnail, despite Zamora not appearing in the video until the final four minutes.
If you’re still confused, one of my favorite YouTubers, Peter Monn best describes the situation here – and makes quite a few good points, including highlighting the fact, “you just used your friends pain to clickbait your title. That might be shadier than anyone else has done in this situation.”
Nikita Dragun losing subscribers
Unsurprisingly, Dragun’s followers called ‘clickbait!’ and disliked the video in droves. They also began furiously unsubscribing.
Nikita Dragun has lost over 15,000 subscribers since the video was released 23 hours ago, and counting, according to Social Blade. And this says something important to me about the way we currently value friendship in our modern society.
It’s become transactional.
Rather than rushing to be by a friend’s side in a time of crisis, we’re encouraged to quickly distance ourselves from any negativity in order to avoid any potential heat it may bring upon us. Or worse, do as Nikita Dragun did, and blatantly exploit the situation to make a quick buck.
The *real* value of friendship
Like I said earlier, I’m not going to gossip about the whole James/Tati feud. However, I do think it’s interesting to note what it represents in terms of where we currently are right now as a society.
It’s basically a real-time internet commentary on how we’ve replaced meaningful connections with quick ‘likes’ and ‘subscribers’, in the name of money and power.
And even more so than what’s going on with James Charles and Tati right now, Nikita Dragun’s response to her friend Charles’s crisis is a sad reflection of how we’ve learnt to value personal gains over deepening our connections to others.
But, Nikita Dragun losing subscribers in the thousands this past day gives me hope. Not because I wish Dragun any ill will – I honestly don’t, and I honestly don’t even necessarily blame her for her poor reaction – I think it’s much more of a comment on how we’re conditioning the next generation of young women and men to think.
It gives me hope because of what it represents: people walking away from the toxic ‘more’ culture of social media. And, perhaps, hopefully, towards something more valuable and kind.
Nikita Dragun losing subscribers isn’t something to be celebrated, any more than James Charles’s career downfall this past week. None of us should rejoice in another person’s misfortune or personal failings, regardless of how they’ve behaved. But, it is something that offers perhaps a glimpse of a new way of thinking on social media. Of moving away from self-promotion, and towards empowering others.
Playing the game
I find social media toxic at the best of times, but I’ll fully admit to playing the game to help my own career in the media. I consider it a necessary evil. It’s one which I haven’t always played gotten right, but which I work every day and with every new post to do better at. To use for empowering the women around me, rather than simply fast-tracking my career.
Perhaps writing about Nikita Dragun losing subscribers makes me no better than all the people that have gossiped, meme’d and vlogged about the James Charles controversy. I don’t honestly know.
What I do know, is that I hope to use my platforms for good. Not to bring other women down, but to lift them up and – most importantly – to challenge them.
And I truly hope Nikita Dragun losing subscribers will be a catalyst for her own personal growth, and for her own realization that no amount of money, fame or success is a substitute for having true friends.
Peace out. ✌
Featured image via youtube.com.