As more and more media attention is gained by The Fault In Our Stars, John Green is becoming increasingly famous. Who does he thank for his fame and success after his parents and lovely wife? His brother and the community that they created together, Nerdfighteria.
The official slogan of Nerdfighteria is to eliminate “world suck” with their motto DFTBA, Don’t Forget To Be Awesome. When Hank and John Green began creating video blogs to stay closer together through a project they titled Brotherhood 2.0 in 2007, they connected to strangers all over the world. In 2007, they also created the aforementioned Nerdfighteria, which brought together the community of viewers. Although the project was only supposed to last a year, John and Hank have continued it to this day and have changed the name of the project to Vlogbrothers. Since then, Nerdfighteria has become home to millions of individuals who have gone on to do amazing things together.
Nerdfighters have redefined what it means to be part of a community in the modern age, just as Hank and John Green set out to redefine what brotherhood meant in 2007. The most important part of Nerdfighteria is the way that one becomes a Nerdfighter. To be a Nerdfighter, you must only want to be one. If you think a place of geeky, nerdy, awesome individuals, dedicated to decreasing world suck, is for you, then you are a Nerdfighter. No matter your age, no matter your gender, no matter your sexual orientation, or anything else, you are a Nerdfigther.Although the media has often portrayed Nerdfighters as teenagers, and this is the overwhelming majority of the community, there are also older Nerdfighters. But, what John and Hank Green have gone on to do with their community is what has redefined my own personal view of what a dedicated group of individuals can do.
Even in 2007, John and Hank Green knew the power of a community. They set out to do what their dedicated parents had taught them to do: give back. In December of 2007, the brothers began the Project for Awesome. That first year, they asked all of their viewers to make videos and donate to or volunteer at their local humane society. What they had set out to do was flood Youtube with love and charity, and that is exactly what they achieved. Just as Hank and his wife Katherine document in a song, “December 17th […] was the day that the nerds took over Youtube.” They did so in an effort to make the world a little less sucky, and every year since then they have gone on to do so in extreme ways.
This year, with the help of several notable Youtubers, the 2014 Project for Awesome raised over $869,000. It had over 475,000 comments and more than 300 videos made by Nerdfighters in support of charities that they deemed awesome. In recent years, the Project For Awesome has morphed into a more democratic effort. Instead of a call to action for a specific cause, the Project for Awesome is conducted by Nerdfighters. All Nerdfighters are welcome and encouraged to make a video in support of their favorite charity. Then, they all get together to watch these videos, donate money, comment, and support their favorite charities; in the end, the charities that have the most support are given the money that has been crowdfunded. There are perks, which are donated by Hank and John, as well as several of their friends. There are challenges that John will do, such as “Sharpie Face,” when a certain threshold is reached. Most importantly, there are thousands of caring and dedicated individuals coming together to make a difference. With dedication, hard work, and values, the Green brothers have been able to prove the importance of community in the modern age: they have utilized the Internet to create a community that supports each other, brings people together, and does amazing things.
As Youtube became a more popular venture, Hank decided to create VidCon. The first VidCon was held at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza on July 10-11 in 2010. All 1,400 tickets were sold in advance, and it became a Mecca for viewers to finally interact with people that they had watched only through their laptop screens. The interesting thing about Youtube, something that separates it from television or movies, is that anyone can make a video. The wonderful thing about the Internet is that anyone can be Youtube famous with just a laptop camera and a few dedicated viewers. These people are normal; they just share their daily lives with their viewers and create interesting content for them. Although they can become pseudo-celebrities, VidCon sought to bridge this divide and bring the audience to the “celebrities” in a very big way.
In 2012, the convention grew so large that Hank decided to move VidCon into the Anaheim Convention Center. The attendance reached 12,000 people and sold out months in advance. VidCon is a place for meetups, panels, and merchandising. It allows creators to have a chance to meet their audiences and connect with them in person. Hank and John Green have striven to bridge the gap between creator and audience, and as their audience grows larger, this becomes harder and harder to do. In the hope of bettering the market, they even created DFTBA Records, a place for Youtubers and others to sell their music, clothing, and other merchandise. They created this venture because they saw the need for a well-run and trustworthy business through which people could make and sell their cool products.
The contributions that John and Hank Green have made to Youtube, the Internet, and the world span far beyond giving back and creating spaces for contact. They have also created channels such as SciShow and CrashCourse, as well as sponsored Youtubers that make educational content in order to make Youtube a place that endorses learning. Both creators have dedicated themselves to making quality content and have supported others who feel the same way. They have allowed several other Youtubers to have larger audiences and have openly supported amazing people such as Esther Earl, a young teenager who died of cancer, whose memory is preserved through contributions to the This Star Won’t Go Out Foundation that was started in her name by John Green and several other Nerdfighters. Their dedication to creating a sense of community has paid them back tenfold: not only has the community they built spanned beyond their wildest dreams, it has also gone on to change the world. It has been there to support people struggling with anxiety, depression, and life itself. John Green and Hank Green have taught me what community can mean and what community can do. To achieve all of this, Nerdfighters and Nerdfighteria have one simple motto: Don’t Forget To Be Awesome.
Dean, Michelle. “A Note on Nerdfighters.” The New Yorker [New York City] 13 Mar. 2013: n. pag. Print.
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