I think many people can agree with me when I say that a pandemic like COVID19 has shown many people's true colours to the world. This could be a family member whom you thought was kind and supportive, but you realized they were selfish and did things for you because they knew they could get something out of it. Or a country that attracts millions of tourists a day due to its beauty and hospitality, in turn, has done absolutely nothing useful to help its people and only creating more xenophobia each and every day...
Or, if you're like me and follow many social media personalities and youtubers, these people seem to be the ones that are showing their truest colours since the pandemic.
I'm sure you have a bunch of shitty YouTubers in mind, but one particular YouTuber I have in mind, is a travel vlogging couple called "Kara & Nate".
I don't suggest you checking them out, since they are a monetized channel... and by searching them up and clicking, you're helping them out. As if me talking about them isn't already giving them enough press/publicity...
Anyway, let me just tell you about them first.
"Kara & Nate" is a couple from America, where they quit their jobs and spent the last 5 years traveling to 100 countries. I know it sounds cliché, but having been a subscriber to them since day one - when they first started this, there actually weren't a lot of vloggers doing this at the time. So at the time when they started, it was a pretty refreshing side of YouTube. They were essentially everyone's couple goals and living the life that everyone wanted to challenge.
I say "challenged" because since they were one of the pioneers of this genre, they really had to use their own money to do this full time. There were no sponsorships. They weren't doing this to promote tourism for any country. Sometimes they would just arrive in a country staying in the cheapest accommodations, and vlogged about why they chose country x over country y because the flight tickets were the cheapest.
This was just a life goal they wanted to accomplish as a couple.
Because of this, their videos in the beginning were just extremely relatable. Everyone can relate to how they needed to take a highway coach bus over a flight because it was way more economical, or how they collected mileage from xyz in order to make ABC flight cheaper. It wasn't about the luxuries of travelling.
"Kara & Nate" were about travelling to make memories, about growth, about life goals and about the experience.
Somewhere before they reached their 100th country, it changed.
When It Changed
The channel was at around its 3rd year at the time, and like any YouTube channel that posts regularly, you steadily gain popularity. They started to catch the attention of more influential people that were able to give them more opportunities. But it wasn't the popularity that changed them.
It was the uncertainty of their endgoal that really changed their channel.
Once their "goal" of traveling to 100 countries end, I think the couple really panicked. After all these years, their goal became their business. They started to really deviate from their relatable content, to more generic travel vlogs. By now, the travel vlogging genre has also started to be more saturated too. There were more and more couples like them, travelling the world - except these couples don't have a goal that binds them. And they can freely take sponsorships, travel freely and continue their youtube channel. They knew their way of making content wasn't sustainable, and I slowly noticed that they were doing more collaborations with official tourism boards and sponsorships.
Which in essence, is really not that huge of an issue from their end. But it was the start of them becoming less and less relatable as people - and as content creators.
You have to remember many of their first subscribers were just average Joes like me, and enjoyed their content not only for travel but also how to genuinely travel affordably. With sponsorships, they now have access to things that average Joes just can't readily get to, and this was the start of this couple's spiral down to tone deafness to their audiences.
To further combat the end of... their endgoal, the couple decided to extend their travelling. Making their initially goal obsolete. I don't know about their other viewers, but for myself, I almost felt a sense of... someone breaking their promise to you?
Of course, I don't think any one of their viewers expected them to really stop travelling. After all, they do genuinely seem to love traveling, learning and experiencing cultures outside of their comfort zone. But 100 countries was their "promise", and just suddenly going HAHA NOPE just really makes you question whether or not these people can be trusted. It's kind of like when you were young, and your mother promised you to go to Disneyland on your 10th birthday but in the end just keeps pushing it forward, hoping that you'd forget. I don't think you'd love your mother any less, but I'm sure it makes you think whether you can really trust her to keep promises in the future.
But anyway, I feel like a lot of their subscribers really swept it under the rug, since it was only logical they'd keep travelling. And they did. They started showing more unique places to stay. They went under a bit more fire when Nate decided to stay in some cabin out in some glacier, and led his wife into some really dangerous situations. It got sorted out as a genuine miscalculation, but left a bit of a sour taste on Nate's selfishness.
All was well... until COVID19 hit.
I have to actually commend them for how they initially handled COVID19 and travel restrictions. They made a swift (but difficult) decision to halt travel, went back home and quarantined.
The rest of the year was honestly uneventful, just like most people's. They bought a van (cliché much? haha), travelled locally, yadda yadda yadda... and then COVID19 in 2021 really clouded their judgment.
Just last week, they posted this video:
When America is still fighting COVID19 and probably still at its highest, this couple decided to fly into Vegas for a trip because their van was broken.
My Issue With Them
I have no problem supporting YouTubers who have a business full-time in travel vlogging, which I know some of you will disagree with. But look, everyone's doing their best to survive. And if their business and income is related to travel vlogging, then I don't think it's fair to tell someone just forget it and do something else completely. Especially since the job market is already in ruins. I sympathize for people who may not want to put themselves in the job market with others, when they already have a career that's dying... but not completely dead.
That said, I think it's fair if you alter the travel content as necessary. And this couple did, for a year. So did many others.
And I have supported them through their alterations. They did so well for a year.
If travel vloggers decide to travel, I think one of the main requirements is for them to show how to SAFELY TRAVEL. Travel vloggers are essentially ambassadors for travel, and they should be held at a high onus to show their audience that no one should be travelling without following safe protocols. If you have close to 2 million subscribers with a brand and a business (like this couple), there's even less of an excuse to just go around and be reckless. You simply don't have that luxury anymore.
Them choosing to just hop on a flight is that recklessness I'm talking about. They've become absolutely "tone deaf" to the audiences around them. They're fixated on their business (of travelling), showing their privileged lifestyle and completely ignoring that their own country has some of the highest cases of COVID19.
And you know what? I'm not angry they travelled. I'm angry they travelled within a country with high COVID19 cases without even do much as quarantining, taking PCR tests to confirm they're negative. Literally just hopped on and off they went!
And as I am writing this... they just posted a new video of them playing laser tag on an airplane.
I'm writing this blog post mostly for myself, because even if I have just a measly 10 people reading my blog on the daily, I want to remind myself that I don't ever, ever want to be this tone deaf to my own privileges and tone deaf to the world.
Lastly... Good luck to this couple, I truly don't have any ill intentions. I just sincerely hope they don't kill any innocent people they interact with along the way.
I wish them well.