What is the “new normal“ really?
Besides the world going through a global pandemic, with mental health concerns and unemployment rates on a high and the economy at a low, as well as social distancing rules and travel restrictions, a new normal has been on its way for a long time, way before China even had its first case of Coronavirus.
Long before 2019, companies like Netflix, Amazon and certain social media platforms like YouTube and TikTok have been slowly pushing cinema and TV off their entertainment thrones.
A different new normal being enabled by the pandemic is definitely here to stay. After all, all you need is a good enough camera with a good enough microphone.
Content creators on YouTube or OnlyFans can have a budget anywhere from £100 to a couple of thousand pounds a month. So the common question many stuck at home are asking is: Why not? And how?
Savannah, 21, has experience when it comes to viral fame and having a successful world-wide-web-presence. Online, she is known as TheQueerKiwi and the owner of a successful YouTube Channel with currently 248k subscribers.
Being a mental health advocate and member of the LGBTQ+ community, Savannah’s content online mostly focuses on her personal opinions on such matters, which proved to be very popular.
I asked Savannah a few questions on how she is handling the attention, what she does to run a successful Channel and how she stays sane in between working and the lockdown.Your first video was posted only nine months ago and you currently have 248,000 subscribers on YouTube, what do you think is the reason for your rapid growth?
“I still don’t entirely know how to process the growth, nor do I entirely understand how it happened. I attribute much of it to the algorithm for choosing to push my videos as much as it did. However, I have no idea how the algorithm works, I am just very grateful for what it did.
“In terms of gaining subscribers instead of just views, I still can’t quite figure it out. I struggle a lot with confidence and thinking I’m not good enough, so it is still so beyond words that so many people choose to not only watch one video but continuously come back.
“I think that, if I look past my self-esteem issues, it largely comes down to authenticity and being different. Although there are a lot of creators who make content along the same lines as mine, I think I delve into it much deeper and go about it in a different way which you don’t see everywhere.
“I also do largely attribute a lot of it to my hair, it holds magical powers, I swear, all of this started as soon as I dyed it.”
Your content is very relatable due to the fact that you’re open about your own struggles (social anxiety, eating disorders), and you’re not afraid to voice your opinions. How did you build up the confidence to be so open about yourself?
“I have always wanted to help people, that has always been my number one goal and priority. Something that I know I can help with is mental health, as I have experience and understanding.
“I have always said that if I can use my experiences to help other people not have to go through it, or get through it easier than it will have been worth it.
“I have spent many years in therapy learning about myself and how to cope and what to do, and this normalises me talking about it and feeling valid in my emotions.
“I know that it’s a really scary thing and so many people don’t want to share, which is totally fair enough, so I want to help those who would benefit from hearing from it. I don’t think of it as me needing the confidence to speak about it as it isn’t about me.
“I think first of the benefit of those who hear what I say rather than how scary it is to talk about. Although sometimes it is very scary and can take me a while to share, I have in the past spoken to my therapists about wanting to talk about it and not knowing how, and they will help me through that.
“Talking about it, I think, also helps me feel more okay with it. It makes it feel normal and not something to be ashamed of, and I think that also happens for those who hear me talk about it, so we all win!”You’re a mental health advocate, vegan, a member of the LGBTQ+ community and a supporter of body positivity, which are also the main topics of your content. Do you sometimes receive messages from people asking you for advice in regards to those topics?
“I receive so many questions every day and it becomes overwhelming. I try to answer the main questions I get asked in videos as to reach the largest number of people, as most questions are asked many many times.
“I often hear my therapist in my head when answering questions and giving advice, I think a lot of people don’t realise there is not one definite answer to most of the questions they ask me, w to come out, how to cope with depression, etc so I try to answer them in a broad way that is still helpful.
“These things are all circumstantial and affect everyone differently and I will always make a point to mention that. I try to tell people they have to do what feels right for them and give them guidance rather than answers. I want to be a hand to hold, not a person to follow, and I hope to convey that message.”
In regards to mental health, how do you manage the attention and negative comments that unfortunately come with that kind of attention?
“Honestly, I don’t receive as much of it as I thought. Due to the nature of my content, most of what I receive is misogynistic comments that are very easy to ignore or laugh at because they’re just gross statements that hold absolutely no ground and are completely irrelevant. It is exactly the same thing I make fun of and talk about in my videos.”
Do you have a golden rule when it comes to your work ethic and how you realise your goals?
“For a few months I was pushing myself really hard, I had to get a video out every three days, and it was starting to be really damaging to my mental health. Recently I have changed my way of working to make myself and my mental health a priority, I can’t make good content if I am in a bad way.
“I have found this to be super helpful and I think my content will benefit from this a lot too. I used to be really hard on myself and strict on schedule and having high goals, but I have found that taking breaks and not having such high expectations is so much better for my health and that is ultimately much more important.
“I want to continue to enjoy it, and I have to do what I can in order to maintain that joy and passion because I think that that is part of the reason so many people keep coming back, and that means taking it easier and priorities myself over my work.”
What are your main motivations to run your YouTube channel and what keeps you going on bad mental health days?
“I really enjoy doing what I do, and although sometimes it’s really hard, there are so many people who look up to me and say that I have helped them in some way. Every day I receive comments saying I have inspired someone to come out, or leave an abusive relationship, or get therapy etc and it’s that that motivates me on bad days.
“Knowing I’m not just entertaining, but also helping people is what gives me the strength and motivation to work through every bad day. However, I have learned now that I need to also take breaks on bad days as the content I create requires a lot of emotional energy and doing it on bad mental health days isn’t good for me. Instead, I use those days to stop and think and plan.”You certainly are an inspiration for others but who or what inspires you?
“I have many people who have inspired me over the years to keep going and to stay alive, and many that do today too. However, the person who has always inspired me the most and kept me going is my best friend/flatmate, Cat. We have been through so many hardships over the past decade of friendship, and have always been there to support one another. I think we work really well at inspiring each other, and we always have.
“We’re a team and we keep each other going. She has overcome so many things and is the strongest person I know, she motivates me to work hard but also to take care of myself. I really admire her strength and she has kept me going time and time over, I would not be here, and certainly not doing this, if it weren’t for her.”
Your authenticity is what sets you apart from other YouTube channels. How do you stay grounded and your most authentic self?
“I grew up on social media more so than other people in terms of how I used it. When I was in a really dark place as a teenager I used Instagram to meet people and build a support network. I spent years talking about my mental health and my inner thoughts on the internet to hundreds of strangers without ever thinking about it.
“This is something I spent years doing, and I never really stopped, it just changed. I guess I have just always existed entirely authentically online to strangers, it’s just now to a much larger audience, which is quite scary because now I have to be more careful about what I share. I actually struggle more with holding back and not over-sharing than I do with being authentic.”What is your main goal right now and how do you plan on making it a reality?
“My main goal is to work on my mental health a bit more than I have been, there are things that I struggle with but often neglect and I need to put more energy into that. At the moment I’m really anxious about uploading less frequently and that is a fear I really want to overcome, and I think those small fears and caring for my mental health work hand in hand.
“Ultimately, I suppose my goals aren’t physical, I have obtained everything beyond my dreams already, but rather overcoming small fears and being able to maintain what I have.
“Obviously, I would love for this to keep building, but I don’t think that is the most important thing. I need to push small boundaries and do small things that make me uncomfortable every now and then to push past fears and ease my anxiety.”
During the lockdown, it is especially hard to be productive and get motivated You have managed to create a successful YouTube channel in that time. What is your advice to those, who aim to use their time at home more productively?
“This for me started off as just something I did for fun, I had absolutely no idea it would get to this point, and I think that that’s important in itself. Do things that you enjoy, whether as a career or not, it is so so important to do things you enjoy. Make sure that you are taking breaks and rewarding yourself for small progress.
“The way success and progress is measured in a capitalistic society is quite detrimental and can leave you feeling quite worthless and down especially in a time where it is so hard. I always say to reward yourself for every “small” thing, because sometimes those small things actually feel quite big.
“Acknowledge progress and success in every part of your life, not just work. Do things that bring you joy and remember that just because it doesn’t make you money, does not mean it isn’t important or productive.”
Featured image by TheQueerKiwi on Instagram.
Edited by Ashkenaz and Jussi Grut.