One of the many difficult realizations of the past few days is that no matter how close you may feel to your idols, you do not know them. This may seem like a no-brainer to anyone who is used to fandom in the traditional sense of fans looking up to unattainable idols like Beyoncé or Justin Bieber, but when it comes to YouTube fame, the lines between celebrity and fan are blurred.
In the early days of the community that now combines DFTBA Records, popular Nerdfighter vloggers, and Internet celebrities, there was very little separation between creators and viewers. But with over a million YouTube subscribers, the Alex Day of 2014 is simply not on the same level as your average 15-year-old fan—particularly since the biggest names on the scene have obviously grown up, while newer, younger fans keep joining their audience every day.
Whether he and Tom Milsom realized it or not, they had gone from being popular members of a relatively egalitarian Internet community, to being celebrities who had genuine influence over their fans and followers. Influence that could be warped and misused to the point where potential victims didn’t feel able to speak out until several others had come forward to back them up.