David Dobrik Was King of the Internet...Then He Went Too Far [Content Made Simple]

Issue #227: Socialization through video games, the problem with creator drama, and more.





Calling Dobrik a YouTuber is sort of like calling Batman a morose vigilante with a trust fund: While technically true, it’s far from the whole story. Dobrik is the leader of the Vlog Squad, a motley crew of aspiring comedians, Instagram sexpots, and other sundry influencers and creators who zip around Los Angeles filming gross-out pranks, stunts, and lavish giveaways, resulting in an aesthetic that’s a cross of Jackass, Entourage, and The Oprah Winfrey Show.


This profile of David Dobrik is one of the best pieces of internet culture reporting I’ve read in the last year, no doubt. It’s such great writing on one of the most iconic internet figures of the last decade. It will be interesting to see how Dobrik’s story unfolds in the years to come. I still think he could be Gen Z’s Jimmy Fallon, but we’ll see.


Link #1: Duty Bound

Such a fascinating column here, exploring all sorts of aspects of online, multiplayer video games, especially the socialization that can happen through them. I love the quote I’ve pulled below.

Compared to the corporate rigidity of the Zoom Happy Hour, which requires you to be alert, upright, and all dolled up, multiplayer game chat doesn’t force conversation: you can catch up, but you can also joke around, sometimes you’re silent, sometimes you’re deep in tactical analysis and shouting out the shorthand commands you’ve developed through playing over and over again with your crew. It allowed me to reconnect with friends from across the country who I’d almost never be able to casually hang out with — an intentional, formal phone call is one thing, but socialization happens just as much in the occasional silence of companionship that can’t really happen over phones or FaceTime.

Link #2: What Won’t the Nelk Boys Do?

It shocks me that people wonder, aghast, about why teenagers and children today want to be influencers. It’s because they see guys like this living a life defined by partying/having fun, getting filthy rich doing it.

“If you took the frats depicted in ’80s and ’90s college movies and gave them the technology of 2021 America, that’s basically what Nelk is,” said Joshua Cohen, the founder of Tubefilter, a website that covers the creator economy. “They’re popular because they always look like they’re having a good time and embodying this seemingly idyllic partying existence.”

Link #3: What Stories About Influencer Drama Totally Miss

I feel so much of what is being described here. As one who tries to keep up with internet culture, I try to understand the conflict that happens between some of the most prolific online creators. It gets a bit exhausting, and this article gets to the heart of why.

Creator drama, for the most part, falls into one of two categories. The first is when someone is accused of doing or saying something despicable and then either addresses or doesn’t address it, which then spurs on a predictable cycle of familiar reactions. The other category is simply too confusing to even begin to understand, and the beef between a network of influencers goes so far back in time and is so in the weeds that in order to unravel the byzantine network of he-said-she-said one must submit to the PhD-level research of watching mostly uninteresting hour-long videos in which maybe one important piece of context is revealed by everyone who was even tangentially involved. Neither category is much fun to digest.


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