Impression Management

“I enjoy playing the audience like a piano.” – Alfred Hitchcock (A-Z Quotes)

YouTube content creators can be considered performance artists. They create their art, their videos, and whether the videos are created digitally or a recording of live action, they are a performance of sorts. The content creators deal with all sorts of factors other artists do, such as audience reaction. Part of the attraction of YouTube is that the creators are free to express themselves. However, as Melissa Hillman points out, “Every professional knows there’s no such thing as “total artistic freedom.” We always must work within certain parameters.” (Hillman) For YouTubers, the audience is a major parameter. If the content creator can’t attract an audience, they won’t be successful. And by the time they do have a faithful following, they have created a brand for themselves. After that, they have to cater to their audience in order to maintain that following.

Impression Management

“A person’s position in society and the prestige of impression management can be paramount, but it can also be considered a conniving game.” (Norris) One of the struggles Youtubers face is maintaining an ‘authentic’ image, while still creating content their viewers want. In essence, the artist has to present an image that appears to be the ‘real’ them, even if the artist grows as a person and moves on.  This can cause problems, or it can aid the artist. In several cases, YouTubers have chosen to open their life to the public eye. But does that have an effect on their life? Is the life they show on camera actually reality, or a version of reality carefully crafted to give an illusion of reality? And how does the dynamic created in such an artificial way affect viewers? “In regard to the social implications, impression management allows people to carefully craft and construct their public perception. In some cases, in order to obtain a favorable public or social appearance, a person must alter and falsify their persona. The social implications of impression management are not always negative, but there is a fine line between the positive and negative aspects.” (Norris). YouTubers have to be careful, as does any artist, that their art stays separate from their life. As we seen in many TV celebrities, such as the Kardashians, this can be extremely difficult.

“The social constraints we work within are never questioned, and usually framed in terms of audience response– a joke your audience won’t find funny, public controversy that could impact sales, or a scene that evokes a hostile audience response, which is entirely dependent on your social context.” (Hillman)

This post is kind of incomplete, just thoughts and such.



“Alfred Hitchcock Quote.” A-Z Quotes, A-Z Quotes, Accessed 10 May 2017.
Norris, Ashley R. “Impression Management: Considering Cultural, Social, and Spiritual Factors.” Inquiries Journal, Student Pulse, LLC, 2011, Accessed 8 May 2017.
Hillman, Melissa. ““Artistic Freedom”: The Lie We Use To Defend The Indefensible.” Bitter Gertrude, WordPress, 21 Oct. 2016, Accessed 8 May 2017.