* Below I'm going to claim I 'know' Meg. In reality, we've met once and since then I've spoken to her occasionally and just sort of admired what she does from afar. I claim to 'know' her as and when I feel like it will impress whoever I'm talking to.There's a few reasons I'm happy to know (*) Meg. One: She is a very cool person. You can never know too many cool people. Two: She is talented/successful and is only going to become more so. It is always good to know talented and successful people. Partly because it's inspiring. Partly because you can brag about knowing (*) them. Three: We're a couple of years apart in age, and the internet changes so effing quickly that it means we have very different experiences of what the internet can be. This has opened my eyes to something that I probably wouldn't have been aware of otherwise.I was in the pub not too long ago when a friend, like a terrible Live at the Apollo comedian, asked "have you seen these youtubers that are everywhere now?". The implication was, of course, these crazy kids, whatever will they think of next?I'd like it make it clear before I get into this that I'm well aware that writing about youtubers/vloggers (they probably have a cooler name than this that I'm not aware of) is pretty impossible to do. By definition, if you want to write about a movement from the outside, you aren't a part of it, and so it becomes very difficult to talk about without sounding like an idiot. So anyway, my friend started this McIntyre-esque conversation and I decided to leap in. First of all, I got to assert that I know (*) Meg. Then I got to list approximately three other people on youtube that I've heard of and what I thought their merits were. I could tell how my friend expected the conversation to go - cynical, patronising, dismissive etc - so I wanted to re-direct it.This was my thinking. If you go through the list of people I've interviewed so far, their work tends to have the following qualities: immediacy, honesty, accessibility, personality. For better or worse, these things are pretty much part of the DNA of being a youtuber. And getting to know (*) Meg really helped open my eyes to that. How cool is it to be able to have direct access to other people choosing to express themselves and how they see the world?When I was a kid and I shut myself away from the world, books meant everything to me. They gave me a connection to people who were feeling what I felt and expressing it in a way I admired. That connection can get you through times when you feel utterly, irretrievably alone.So I can only imagine how much someone like Meg means to her audience. There are people out there who for whatever reason (personal/social/mental/physical etc) are unable to feel part of a community. People like Meg are forming communities that anyone can be a part of. Meg sets a lead of sensitivity and positivity and allows for anybody to feel included in that. If I had kids, and they looked up to Meg, I'd be pretty happy with who they were choosing as their role models. Of course, I'd force-feed them Ramones records too, but that goes without saying.
When you first started your YouTube channel, did you have any idea of what you wanted to achieve with it?
In the beginning, it was definitely just a case of 'let's throw caution to the wind and give this thing a go'. I'd wanted to start a channel ever since I fell in love with the whole YouTube world aged fourteen, so by the time I got to twenty-one I thought I'd missed the boat and it was something I'd never achieve. There were so many things I let myself be held back by - worrying what other people would think, not having enough time whilst studying and working, being scared that I'd be made fun of - but it got to the point where I stopped caring about the 'what if's' and filmed my first video, which was so freeing and I haven't looked back since. I had ideas about what I wanted my channel to be (a positive space where I could share my thoughts about life and health as well as talk about my interests) but after seven years of wanting to, my main aim was simply to give it a go at long last!
You always seem to prioritise putting time into interacting with your audience. As things get bigger, is it difficult to keep responding to everyone that you’d like to?
Getting to know the people who watch my channel is definitely one of my favourite things about creating videos. Making a cup of tea then sitting down to film a chatty video feels like having a good catch-up with a friend, and the most exciting part about editing then uploading a new video is knowing that people will watch it and I'll get to talk with them in the comments section. I now know the majority of my viewers and can tell you facts about their lives just from their photo or their name - in some cases we've emailed back and forth, become penpals and even met in 'real life'. I always try my best to reply to every single comment as well as every notification, often when I should be focusing on my email inbox or writing blog posts, but I genuinely find it really fun and it's a pleasure to prioritise it. It's definitely not easy to reply to everyone now that there are hundreds of new comments per video as well as numerous emails, Instagram direct messages, tweets and PO box letters daily. I do put pressure on myself to spend hours a day writing back and I try my absolute hardest to respond to as many people as I physically can, as there are millions of YouTube channels out there and it leaves me speechless that people take the time out of their day to watch and interact with mine. I've got so much gratitude that I feel like it's the least I can do, plus I know how over the moon I am if I get a notification that someone I follow has replied to my comment - it's such a happy feeling!
You’ve done some brilliant videos and blogs about your struggles with chronic illness. I think it’s an important thing to do when so much of what you see online can seem like an intimidatingly idealised version of someone’s life. Is it difficult to find the balance between letting people know how much chronic illness has affected you, without feeling like it’s defining what you’re putting out?
I feel lucky that my teenage years were spent on Myspace, which is now buried deep on the internet where nobody will ever find it. What advice would you give to teenagers who perhaps want to start a blog or a youtube channel, in terms of putting their personal lives online?
Finally, what was the last thing, book, song, blog, video, place etc that you totally fell in love with?
I'm completely obsessed with Jo Malone London's new cologne, Nashi Blossom - it's like every good thing about spring in a bottle and all I've done for the past week is offer my wrist to people to sniff! The book I'm currently reading is 'Yes Please' by Amy Poehler and I was head over heels practically after the first chapter. She's an incredibly bright, witty and warm woman who really inspires me to write, crack jokes, live a little more boldly and make all of the things! I recently saw Jack Garratt perform live and was completely blown away by his incredible talent. He's one of the most gifted musicians I've ever come across, like this brilliant one-man-band, and his song 'Weathered' might just be one of my all-time favourites. At the beginning of this week I came across a video on YouTube of Kelly Clarkson on American Idol singing what is quite possibly the most emotional song in the world, 'Piece By Piece', and it left me a sobbing mess for about twenty minutes afterwards. So, naturally, I recommend that everyone I speak to watches it also! My boyfriend and I visited Budapest a few months ago, it's such a stunningly beautiful and historic city that we wholeheartedly fell in love with it and the trip felt like a dream.