► Let’s get back to your own experience. When you did split up earlier this year (note: 2014), it wasn’t a spontaneous thing, so you must have had a moment where you thought about how your subscribers would react to the announcement. Once again, how did your expectation play out versus how things then happened?
The way that it happened wasn’t the way I wanted it to, lets just say that. I don’t think it was the right way of doing it, simply because it came as so much of a shock to people. I mean, we are sitting there, telling people they are part of our family and care about them – then all of a sudden it’s all just over? Yeah, that probably was a little bit too shocking. And given the way it was handled, the response was exactly what I expected. People were right to be upset. People were put off by it in a bad way. And I genuinely feel bad about it.
► There weren’t just people who were shocked and upset, though. There was a disturbingly large number of people who instantly and – as far as I can tell – without a reason or a shred of evidence, blamed you exclusively for the situation and reacted very negatively towards you. Did that surprise you?
Um, you know, unfortunately, as a woman, it didn’t. I kind of expected a lot of the blame and a lot of hate. It got a little more in-depth and it happened a little faster than I imagined it would. I get that people were angry, but I’m not justifying anyone’s actions. It was incredibly hurtful to me that so many people just made absolutely disgusting assumptions about me as a person and about the reason it happened. And it didn’t make me sad because they were saying rude things about me – it did because they were completely blind to what the truth of the situation was and yet they were still able to sling such hurtful things. I would never wish this on anyone. A divorce or a breakup or anything of that magnitude is difficult, whether or not you are being watched by a million people. For obvious reasons, it gets more difficult when it happens in the public eye. People already have feelings of anxiety and sadness on a personal level. But having these feelings amplified by the voices of thousands of people who don’t know anything about what happened made it quite difficult.
► Of course none of that is an enviable experience. But the sentiment that the mudslinging didn’t surprise you simply because you are a woman is … well, frankly, it sucks.
It. Sucks. That is correct.
If you keep an open mind and heart and keep your head held high, that’s going to show other women – or other people in general – that you are okay to do things on your own and that it is possible to be successful as an individual by doing what you love.
► Does that experience result in any advice you can give to women who maybe want to get into vlogging, YouTube in general, or expose their life in other ways on social media?
Well, unfortunately, as a woman, you will just run into some blatantly misogynistic commentary. That’s just how things are. And, for whatever reason, YouTube has become a platform on which that stuff is completely acceptable, if not encouraged or found to be a ‘funny’ way of participating in group conversation, which is really unfortunate. But I would basically just try to guide women into a direction of doing whatever the hell they want to do. Because, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what people say. If you keep an open mind and heart and keep your head held high, that’s going to show other women – or other people in general – that you are okay to do things on your own and that it is possible to be successful as an individual by doing what you love. That’s a powerful thing for anybody, male or female. For women especially I would say: Choose your words wisely and pick your battles. There are some people whose minds you simply can’t change. So the only way to bring light to the situation is by showing that you are your own person, that you have your own lifestyle and that you make your own decisions.
► Do you think much of that misogyny would go away if comments on the web were not anonymous?
I don’t know. That’s actually some of the most surprising stuff that has happened to me – I’ve gotten a massively rude comment from someone using their actual face and their real name. That’s just … wow. It doesn’t make me any more upset than any normal comment because of its content. What really floors me is that – it seems – I must have done something really, really wrong in this person’s mind so that they are willing to expose themselves to me and say, “You’re an idiot. I hate you.” And, yes, that was only paraphrasing. But I would just love to have a conversation with that person and understand why they feel that way, because at that point you realise that it’s not just a troll or a one-off, attention-grabbing, rude comment. And yet, anonymity is definitely a powerful thing, especially on YouTube. I think people see the possibility to get attention in a negative way and they just run with it. I can only imagine that by saying something hard-hitting and getting a lot of thumbs up for it is either exciting them or they kind of feel supported, even though they’ve just said something really shitty.
► Let’s focus on the positive. Sure, your way out of the daily vlogs wasn’t by design, but how does it feel having your life back in a way? Are there any withdrawal symptoms? Do you ever reach for the camera because you think “I have to film this” only to remember that you don’t?
(laughs) Truthfully, it’s pretty awesome. I love making the videos that I’m making on YouTube now. And I’m not saying “I love my life now because it’s not the same as before.” That would be stupid. But I do love travel vlogs and I will continue to make other vlogs occasionally, because I feel it’s a really free-flowing style and a good way for me to connect with people and get feedback, to see what people would like to see. And I also get lots of useful advice and good information from people when I do travel videos. But it is super awesome to be able to make my own schedule and not wake up in a panic. There isn’t the constant feeling of having to upload a video. It’s much nicer for me now because I feel that I don’t have to sacrifice quality just to put something online. And I’m still working on it. Some may argue that my lighting and the quality isn’t perfect. But, you know, I don’t have a producer. I do this by myself or with a couple of my friends. It continues to be a learning process. So it’s actually been really nice for me as a creator.