Navigating a global pandemic is difficult enough but with over 200,000 YouTube subscribers watching your every move, there is another dimension of pressure.
Eve Bennett is familiar with this pressure. But still, she is everything you would expect her to be. She answers the Zoom call sat in her bed, wearing an oversized hoodie, sipping on a diet coke, no different to how she portrays herself in her videos.
To those unfamiliar with Eve, she is a student at the University of Oxford, studying German and Spanish, currently on her year abroad. Which as you can guess, has been heavily disrupted by the pandemic.
“When the pandemic first hit, my year abroad completely fell apart and everything felt awful,” she says. “At the time, I did have a bit of a whine. In hindsight, would I have moaned as much? Probably no, but it was a knee-jerk reaction.”
This led to backlash from online trolls who stated that she could’ve had it worse. “Someone stubbing their toe is still painful. Imagine if every time you said “ouch” when you stubbed your toe, you have 50 people saying, “how dare you, there are people you do not have toes!” It’s just stupid,” says Eve.
As someone in the public eye, Eve has had to endure fair share of online trolls over the years, but the number has significantly increased during the pandemic.
“I think that people have more time on their hands, and they are frustrated that they are not allowed out of the house,” she says.
“99% of the time, they think that you won’t see it. Ask any influencer and they will tell you that if you respond to the hate, they will comment “Oh my god, I didn’t think you’d see this!” and they just wanted to get your attention,” Eve says. “But some will block you and say “look at me, I have beef with Eve Bennett.””
Though Eve admits that replying to such comments with a sassy remark is satisfying for a short period of time, she has taken the decision to ignore the hate this year. “It is not good for my mental health or anybody else’s,” she says.
Eve has always been transparent about her struggles with mental health, sharing her story in vlogs and tweets, fighting the stigma against anxiety, depression and eating disorders.
During the pandemic she feels unable to share her worries as much as she did previously, in fear of potential a hostile response, but this still does not stop her from sharing her current health struggles in her lockdown vlogs.
Her mental health has fluctuated in the recent lockdowns. “I know that if this had happened the year before, I would have had a meltdown,” says Eve. “I would not have had any coping mechanisms and my anxiety would have gone completely off the rails.”
Her bad mental health in 2019 is something that she has addressed in multiple videos. Now, after going to therapy and having CBT, she has been able to find beneficial coping mechanisms that she has been able to implement in her day-to-day life.
“I have been staying hydrated, going on lots of walks and practicing mindfulness. Obviously, there are days that I do not want to get out of bed, but I do not let that stop me. I’ve got a healthy attitude towards the peaks and troths of daily life.”
Vlogs have made up the majority of Eve’s recent content. Whilst the first few months were full of videos relating to online university or Eve’s life in Berlin, being stuck at home in the current lockdown means that it’s more difficult to come up with new video ideas because there is less to do.
“I found this time around, now that I am stuck at home, that I am vlogging days in my life, which involves walks or me sitting at my laptop,” she says. “I find that working with brands has been useful as they will give you an idea for a video. Also, my followers are always happy for me to do a “Gin Chats” video.”
Filming those videos and doing Instagram Q&As and livestreams has brought Eve closer to her followers in a time that we are forced to stay apart.
“The thought of a meet and greet now makes me so uncomfortable,” Eve says. It seems like a distant memory when influencers could meet over 600 people in a day, and Eve thinks that meet and greets do not allow you to fully connect with followers.
“It’s just so quick. Now I do a lot more Instagram Q&A’s, livestreams, and chatty videos. I think I have more time to do these videos and people have more time to sit and watch them,” she says. “I think that is the best way to connect to my followers – them asking questions and me answering them, it’s like sitting down with your best mate and having a chat.”
Eve also recognises that everyone is in the same boat, so there is a stronger bond between herself and her followers. “I have more time to read my Instagram DMs and the beauty of influencing is that you can connect to your followers through a screen,” she says.
“Also, everyone is in the same boat at the moment, so we have more of an emotional connection. This year, I’ve opened up more to my followers. My content has changed, and I am more open and honest. Not that I wasn’t honest before!”
Something that she does not enjoy so much is what she dubs the “COVID Police” attacking her for her year abroad, whilst ignoring influencers jetting off to Dubai to escape lockdown rules.
“I do not agree with people going to Dubai, but I know that a lot of people will complain that I went on my year abroad,” she says. “I have grappled with that a lot, but I think that it is literally what I have spent nine years of my life studying towards. It is a compulsory requirement for my degree.”
She completely agrees with calling out influencers or anyone for blatantly breaking lockdown rules, but she thinks that some criticism is taken too far, and that you should treat influencers the same as you would treat a friend.
“Influencers should not be having parties or gatherings and you should not be jetting off to Dubai. But normal people shouldn’t be having parties or gatherings,” she says. “The beauty of these lockdown rules is that they are for everyone. Influencers have a responsibility to be a positive influence, but they’re not perfect people.”
Influencer content should not be something to watch and criticise but something to watch as a form of escapism from these difficult times. Many influencers, such as Eve, are balancing creating content with other responsibilities, and should not be subject to abuse when taking the time out of their day to produce content that allows us to forget about the outside world for just 20 minutes.
People should not be spreading hate when people are already struggling – yes, people are frustrated, but take Eve’s advice and find better coping mechanisms than spreading hate on someone’s YouTube videos.
Words by Lauren Taylor
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