I like to think of YouTube (and really, social media in general) as personally directed, ongoing reality shows. Like reality shows, the truth isn't quite what it seems. We present to the world an interpretation of ourselves as we would like the world to see us. Even the most honest skilled "lifestreamers" (as Renetto calls it), present a subjective view of their own lives. A camera is as small as an iPhone, impacts those around it.
Camera placement, editing and the very events the vlogger chooses to share create an online reality that is harsher, grittier, or simpler and more peaceful than the off-screen reality.
That's the nature of non-fiction in any form. In fact, it's the reality of human existence. While some people are more honest than others, we generally adjust our behavior in reaction to the circumstances that surround us. Yes, some are truer to themselves than others, but living in a society of any sort requires a set of behavior in order to function successfully.
In my short YouTube history, part of the fun has been discovering my online persona. I've shared similar experiences with a number of YouTubers I met at Vidcon. Each related their own period of discovery as they tried a number of approaches as they developed their unique personal brand. Many successful vloggers ultimately found an approach that incorporated and enhanced elements of who they already were, and in time found that their online persona and offline reality merged into what we might call "Me 2.0."
Social media and social networking in general has changed, at least for a portion of society, how people interact on both a daily and long term basis. The concept of a personal brand is critical to understand for anyone hoping to use these tools to achieve specific goals.
Obviously, I'm a big fan of social media. I have to admit, however, that as I dig deeper and deeper into this world, I have to wonder if we was a society are entering a uniquely self-absorbed age.