“I don’t need a vaccine to protect me; I have diamond armor,” wrote @fathogjones on Twitter.
Photo by Connor Betterly
As the number of vaccine mandates grows across the country, so has the amount of vaccine misinformation spread on the internet. One prominent group responsible for the relay of pseudoscience has been professional YouTubers. “A worrying amount of YouTubers I used to like have started posting anti-vax stuff on Twitter,” said Anna Hall, a 19-year-old college student. “I just want to go back to the good old days where I didn’t even know what my favorite YouTuber’s face looked like, much less their opinion on contentious political issues.”
The worrying trend was noticed by a group of researchers, who conducted a study on this phenomenon. “A lot of these YouTubers who are spreading this misinformation either make content focused on gaming or are gamers in general,” wrote Dr. Liz Ladumb, principal investigator of the research team. “Honestly, that should be enough of an explanation. But sadly, just calling someone a gamer as an insult isn’t ‘a thorough enough scientific research method,’ so we had to go deeper.”
The now-published study goes on to explain that many of these YouTubers were likely radicalized due to the amount of extremist content in gaming-oriented spaces, “falling deeper down the rabbit hole until they fully adhere to far-right conspiracies and rhetoric, like a frog slowly being boiled alive.” Matt Moronta, a fellow researcher, pointed out that, “The fact that lots of them gained a large amount of fame when they were fairly young didn’t help. And I honestly get it. When I was young, if my Facebook post got 10 likes, I wouldn’t shut up for a week.” The results of this study have become a divisive issue on social media. “These people have a very impressionable audience,” said @serialized_wombat on Twitter. “All it takes is a little vaccine hesitancy from MinecraftBoy57 and lil’ ol’ Jimmy’s on a pipeline that ends in a Fox News interview about how the government lizards in charge of the secret world government are trying to silence him on Twitter.” On the flip side, some users take issue with the study, like @fathogjones who said it was “just another example of ‘Big Science’ trying to silence those with different opinions. I applaud any YouTuber who decided to fight against cancel culture and join our movement. I’m sure that in 50 years we’ll all be alive and well to tell all those vax-cucks exactly how stupid they were.”
Even some prominent YouTubers have commented on the issue. “Yeah, you should take the vaccine and shit,” said FaZe Greg, famous for being part of FaZe clan. “All these people and their dumb little followers are idiots. They don’t actually know what’s good for you, don’t listen to them. They’re just abusing their clout to spread bullshit that just helps them out. Anyway, my new crypto HorseCockCoin, drops this Saturday, that is going to be the coin that makes you rich. Trust me, bro.”
All this controversy has led some to become disillusioned with influencers. “It’s impossible to like any internet celebrity these days,” said Brandon Carter. “If they’re not outing themselves as anti-vaxxers, someone’s leaking DMs showing that they’re racists or sex offenders. I’m just going to go back to worshipping Hollywood celebrities, who are of course famously unproblematic.”