The Creepy Side of YouTube Meetups

Saturday was a strange day. While the rest of the world was celebrating the global canonization of Al Gore, a flock of handycam-wielding YouTubers descended on Washington Square Park and busily navel-gazed their way into a me! me! me! orgy of giddy solipsism. At the park’s northern entrance the vid jockeys video’d each other, circling each other with cameras pointed like some retarded McLuhan version of a Reservoir Dogs standoff.

“I’m video-ing you! Now I’m video-ing you! You’re video-ing me? I’m video-ing you!” That’s a direct quote. Meanwhile police cameras whirred and clicked their own recordings, while a few members of the media interviewed the starry-eyed kids. A producer from HBO’s Runaway Box beckoned HappySlip, the YouTuber whose advert for the meetup garnered 2.7 million views, over for an interview.

One of the questions I’ve been asking everybody, the producer said, is that of all the YouTubers, who would you have sex with?

Only the most pressing questions here, folks. HappySlip collapsed in giggles and demurred. She is, after all, married. Sorry boys.

And let’s talk about that for a second. Perhaps the creepiest aspect of the meetup was the meeting of both young women — theHill88, Brookers, more — and older, graying, maladriot men. There’s something inherently off-putting about said men asking girls dressed in superhero costumes (hi, theHill88) for an autograph.

You can accuse me of being cynical, or of not understanding the friendship dynamics at play, or of fanning fears of the “to catch a predator” sort. But I’m just relating what I saw. And it only got weirder at the after-party at a club called The Grand in Midtown, where men with videocameras circled the dance floor, nightvision on. And did I mention the blow-up sex doll at the front steps. WTF.
Creepy guys, creepy park, creepy dance club. YouTube may be a fascinating world online, but offline it skeeves me out.