'We're all Doomed!' Is Daniel Howell social media's most positive influence?
Updated: Mar 30
Back in January, my friend and I were able to escape the humidity of Sydney’s Darling Harbour in order to experience one of the most positive examples of social media stars around - Daniel Howell’s comedy show We’re All Doomed!
31 year-old British YouTube influencer Daniel Howell has been creating comedy and gaming YouTube videos, merchandise, books, and even two previous world tours with his creative collaborator Phil Lester, since 2009. He is well known for his self-deprecating and sarcastic humour, and has over 6.18 million subscribers on YouTube.
Since 2017, he has been slowly shifting his approach to creating content. He decided to share components of his most raw and honest self. His video “Daniel and Depression” gained over 3 million views and two years later, he came out as gay in a 45 minute long essay-style video that gained over 12 million views, and 1 million likes. These two videos was what began a shift with the relationship with his audience.
Daniel actively confronted his personal issues, documenting his emotions and advice, creating a mirror for self reflection in his audience. Personally, I distinctly remember processing those two videos when they first came out. I was 12 when “Daniel and Depression” was posted, and 14 when “Basically I’m gay” came out (no pun intended). I was on the younger side of Dan and Phil’s audience, as their peak was around 2013-2015, when their fanbase was still in their young to mid teens. I remember watching both repeatedly, aiming to try and understand myself more, both with my mental health and sexuality, and seeing someone I had evolved and grown alongside became comforting at the time, as I had used his videos in order to help deal with my own problems at school.
Since his coming out video, Daniel had mostly disappeared from the limelight, not creating any content on his personal channel for two years during the pandemic. He reappeared 8 months ago with a video called “Why I quit YouTube” discussing his issues with creation, with the job leaving him burnt out and stressed over failed projects. Soon after, he announced his solo tour We’re All Doomed!, a comedy and performance show meant to both entertain, educate, and reflect on the state of the audience and creator.
On March 2, his worldwide tour, that had begun mid 2022, finished in Dublin, wrapping him entirely around the world, sharing his sarcastic positivity with his global audience.
Thanks to Safe on Social, I was able to meet the man behind the show for a little while to have a chat and get a photo with him. I also got the opportunity to talk to other people in the audience and compare my thoughts and experience on Daniel's content, the show and how he makes this crazy world of social media feel just that little bit easier.
From the audience:
Out of the people interviewed, only 20% of fans had been to previous shows, such as Interactive Introverts, and The Amazing Tour Is Not On Fire. Having been to Interactive Introverts in the past, I was surprised by how many people were seeing him for the first time.
Regarding his openness and authenticity on social media and his affect on his audience, people replied with similarly positive comments:
“He’s made me feel a lot more confident in myself and my online presence.”
“He helped my anxiety in the past, it why I’m here, I was finally able to get out of the house!”
“He's a very inspirational talker, the way he addresses his own mental health, his own queerness, it’s extremely admirable.”
“I wasn’t able to experience the shows when I was younger because of my family, but he was able to affect me so much when I was a kid.”
“When Dan came out, I felt comfortable to come out myself. He came a year or two before I came out as Transgender, so it was a big deal for me.”
“Its nice to see an influencer who’s honest about themselves. While most are, Dan is really candid about it.”
Thoughts on the community:
“It feels very safe in this atmosphere, there’s a lot of people I see myself in.”
“I definitely noticed I was in the right place when everyone looked like me.”
“The community surrounding Dan and Phil helped me discover my identity as a part of the LGBTGI community, as I think its been for a lot of people here.”
“I’ve been able to make friends at previous Dan and Phil shows. It’s really comforting to see people who are dressed the same as you.”
“Dan attracts a very specific community. So it's cool to see how everyone is similar, and how everyone has grown up together.”
The two and half hour show was split into two sections. The first half being light-hearted and educational, both highlighting the positives and negatives of this world, including global warming statistics, the internet, deep fakes and AI generated art, and of course, social media. This Included several montages of his large, circle screen behind him of Daniel “doom scrolling.” Showing natural disasters, mixed with jokey social media tropes, the beauty influencer, the right wing podcaster, and the clickbait live dancer.
His social media section in particular was able to catch my attention and get me to reflect on myself and my own presence. Discussing how there was a clear divide in social media, with individuals who were insecure about “having an interesting life” where they constantly posted and updated people so others didn’t think they were living something mundane, while others were ok in that mundanity, such as Dan.
My friend and I turned to each other in this moment, as we both knew where we stood in that situation, I was the former, he was the latter, with Daniel. He also acknowledged the hypocrisy in his statements, being that this was his job and how he got himself here.
Then the show shifted after his dramatic meltdown, screaming “we’re all doomed.” With Dan reflecting with the audience about his experiences coming out, keeping his social media job, and struggling with his mental health during the continuous amount of crisis that appear in our world almost instantly. He ended up leaving the audience with an old quote from one of his videos.
“Embrace the void, and have the courage to exist.”
Ending with a slideshow of happy moments, with his back towards the audience, before the screen faded to black. A simple sentiment that stuck with the audience, a quote to take with them to keep trying, just like I had, and just like he did.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR, OPHELIA:
I am in my first year at College studying Journalism and I love all things cultural and sociological. What drove me to become a part of the Safe on Social team was contributing to fostering a more equal and safe online world and the opportunity to educate Australians to promote a healthy relationship with the internet. My skills regarding managing cyber/creative burnout and acknowledging and responding to online criticism and hate will positively impact readers and the community.