Bunny Meyer is one of YouTube’s most popular vloggers, known for her quirky content, over-the-top personality, and seemingly modest living. But in a recent video uploaded to her channel, she revealed to her nearly 9 million subscribers that she’s been lying about her wealth in order to appear more relatable.
Going by the username of grav3yardgirl since her start on YouTube in 2011, Meyer was welcomed by the internet for the unique interests that made her an outcast in real life. From her fascination with the paranormal to her tips for thrifty shopping, Meyer became an ally for anyone who didn’t fit in. However, as her channel evolved and she became more popular, she’s now revealed, her preoccupation with views and subscribers outweighed her own interest in creating authentic content, which led her to create a viral series called “Does This Thing Really Work?”
By testing hundreds of “As Seen on TV” products over the past four years, Meyer was able to create videos that received millions of views each. But it soon became apparent to her audience — and herself — that her gimmicky persona was no longer working, as she hit a slump in subscriber engagement over the last year and a half.
Now she’s returned to a peak of 4.5 million views on her newest video, “Why I’ve Been Lying About My Life,” in which she confesses to subscribers that she’s been giving “this watered-down essence of myself” and then comes clean by showing off her recent purchase of a $4,900 Dior bag — one that would seem out of the ordinary to regular viewers but is in fact pretty standard for the millionaire content creator.
As is evidenced by her tears, the truthful video wasn’t easy to make. Instead, it required what child and adolescent psychologist Barbara Greenberg calls “social permission.”
“People do not have an easy time making themselves vulnerable. There’s so much at stake,” Greenberg tells Yahoo Lifestyle of Meyer’s emotional admission. “If you put your authentic self out there, and it’s not well received, you’re really playing your hand, and people are afraid of that. But if people see other people being authentic, then they’ll take risks, also. It’s not until there’s social permission to do so that people will dip their foot in the water and take a chance.”
For Meyer, that permission came from another popular YouTuber, Shane Dawson, who noticed her slump and reached out to her, and was able to help her navigate the transition from stale, inauthentic videos to the type of content that would bring audiences back into her real life.
Having started on YouTube nearly a year before Meyer, Dawson has had tremendous success there, garnering 13 million subscribers over an eight-year period. But he too experienced a drop in viewer engagement when he didn’t allow his online persona to evolve with his real growth, off-camera, as a person. After experiencing viral fame from all the sensationalized content that he was creating, Dawson felt compelled to continue to make videos, no matter how fake, that resulted in massive amounts of views.
“A lot of times, people will create a false narrative or new persona just because they love the feedback that they get on social media,” Greenberg explains. “They really thrive on the number of ‘hearts’ they get, or the number of ‘thumbs up’ that they get. It’s a very heady experience. So to get that feedback, people will go ahead and create personas. And social media really lends itself to that, because you can fake a lot of things.”
And fabricating an inauthentic life for the sake of subscribers who feel like friends isn’t a surprising tactic, considering why YouTubers sit down in front of a camera in the first place.
“Most people who do YouTube videos are outcasts,” Dawson offered in a video posted in January 2017, “or they were the weird one in high school. … So they turn on their camera and they create this personality that’s how they wish they could’ve been in high school, but they weren’t.”
And it’s not hard to get lost in one’s own persona, Greenberg says, which would explain how major successes like both Meyer and Dawson hit a plateau, finding it difficult to determine how to evolve their channel and make it more “real” again. “You get stuck in a false narrative or a narrative that you don’t like anymore, and you have to evolve to dig yourself out of it. You have to make yourself more relatable, more likable, and more socially desirable.”
After Dawson successfully rebuilt his own channel to reflect the content that he enjoyed making rather than what he thought his audience wanted, he decided to help other YouTubers do the same. In his first series of videos experimenting with this format, he collaborates with Meyer and begins to expose who she really is in order to save her channel.
From blurring out glimpses of her neighborhood to telling Dawson what rooms he and his team could film in, it’s evident that Meyer felt she had a lot to hide in terms of her luxurious lifestyle. But through numerous therapeutic conversations, Dawson gets to the bottom of why Meyer was masking this part of her life and how it would benefit her to open up about it.
“I would like to show more of my life and share more of the things that I love and the things that I like to do. But I know that that just rubs some people the wrong way,” Meyer admits on camera. One of Dawson’s friends chimes in to share how it could actually be inspiring to subscribers for Meyer to show her walk-in closet, in-house arcade, and Porsche convertible: “Don’t you want to show them that someone like you, a lone girl with cool, eclectic, weird ideas, can have this if they work hard enough? Girls who are weird in the world rock it.”
For Meyer, who had been projecting a curated personality that she thought her audience would respond to, just being herself was difficult to master. However, it’s already been working in her latest tell-all videos, which include a lot of truths and even more tears.
Both Meyer and Dawson are far from the only two YouTubers who have gone through the depression and anxiety that can come from curating an online persona. In years past and present, YouTubers everywhere have taken breaks from their channels, or have experienced a drop in both enjoyment and engagement, while losing a sense of their purpose as content creators.
Although not all of them have a story quite like that of Meyer, these YouTubers tend to include tell-all videos that ultimately bring them closer to their online communities. Check out a few examples below:
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