WilburSoot is live! we are just chatting, everyone
Shock comes over me as I quickly maneuver to my computer to pull up the first Wilbur stream in 25 days, according to the counter on the VOD (Video on Demand) of his previous stream. I’m welcomed by the teal layout and blocky letters of an early ‘2000s PC computer overlay, and the familiar jingle of his comedy song “Your New Boyfriend.” I hum along, patiently waiting for the loading screen to change to Wilbur’s face and his British accent to fill my ears as he greets everyone by reading off recent subscriptions to his Twitch channel. I type my own hello and add the option to display my seven month subscription streak. He asks how everyone is before launching into an hour and a half of stories.
I don’t tune in fully until he’s telling us about the meaning behind the album “Your City Gave Me Asthma,” released back in 2020, where he mentions who he thinks the audience is. He realizes that a community of people have heard of him and his music, but not the various Minecraft roleplay videos he’s made. It was strange to hear Wilbur was aware of the divisions between his audience, and the way that those who listened to his music might not have watched his Minecraft videos. These audiences circumventing each other is something that’s always been there. I’ve seen it in my day to day with other interests, but the internet is where everything lives so webbed together. Then again, a year ago I wouldn’t have known a thing about Twitch streaming.
At the start of quarantine, with nothing to distract from the pandemic, people turned to the internet. Platforms like Twitch brought people together in multiplayer games like “Among Us,” “Minecraft,” and “Valorant.” Twitch provided a sense of community for both viewers and content creators alike because it took place live, and created a back and forth between streamer and chat members. This was in contrast to YouTube. which creates edited content designed for viewership. Twitch was unedited live content designed to build a community and get people involved in what they watched.
I didn’t discover the site and the communities until a full year after the height of the pandemic, when things began to open back up. I had initially dismissed Twitch streams and the creators, annoyed by those that my sister watched on occasion. I hadn’t expected to end up so invested in the live content, thinking I preferred edited Youtube videos of game play and creators talking to a camera. The shift from YouTube to Twitch left me excitedly waiting for Twitch notifications to pop up on my phone telling me, [Your Streamer] is live!
I’d like to say that none of this has taken over my life, but that would be a lie. My roommate is the one who’s had to deal with it all, from the daily updates on what’s happening on Twitter to my unparalleled excitement for when a particular streamer goes live at a reasonable 11 PM EST so I can watch. However, I know that it has become important for me to branch out into an online community.
Illustration by Tien Servidio