Youtube fans gets “Bannergated”, and the Potential for Video Within Mormonism

John Dehlin Mormon Stories

This event has already been somewhat chronicled over at bcc, but I want to highlight and discuss as well.

The quick stories:

  • As many of you will remember, some prominent folks in the bloggernacle created a blog called “Under the Banner of heaven”, where the permabloggers were presented as real people to the bloggernacle, but in reality, they were fake identities created by already prominent bloggernaclers. In some instances, men posed as women, and confessed things like miscarriages to sympathetic, but duped, female participants. When the deceit was uncovered, there was much sadness and anger.
  • Well, a similar thing has happened on youtube this week. A supposedly teenage girl (home schooled, with over-protective parents) under the alias “lonelygirl15” started video blogging about her life, and literally millions of youtube fans tuned in (this is perhaps the best example of her video posts). Sometimes even sincere fans posted their own video responses, expressing empathy or encouragement. Now it turns out that the whole thing was fiction. You can read more about it here and here (thanks to bcc for the links).

Here is one of the many videos exposing “lonelygirl15” as a fraud:

Personally, stuff like this doesn’t make me angry. But it does make me think about 3 things….

  1. Most importantly, how HUGE Internet video can be. MILLIONS of viewers followed this story. Can you imagine the potential (good or ill) for Mormonism if someone did something similar (it would have to be SUPER creative, of course). Ask a Ninja is another example of something really silly, simple, creative, and with a HUGE following (it even has big time commercial sponsors now). Even my silly video that I did for a class project has been viewed close to 10,000 times now.
  2. How important real identity can be to functional web communities.
  3. I sort of respectfully disagree w/ Steve Evans that people should not be so outraged. I think they should be angry when stuff like this happens. It is dishonesty, plain and simple.