There have been a lot of YouTube relationship revelations this year—most of them having a very unhappy ending with all the break-ups and abuse accusations (both sexual and emotional). In fact, before 2014, I didn’t pay much attention to who the YouTubers I watched regularly dated. Usually I would notice simply because there would be a new guy or girl showing up in some of their videos. Or that boyfriend/girlfriend might have a YouTube channel of their own that I would checkout just to be nice and find I really liked their content. Most of the time I could at least respect them for what they were doing even if I wasn’t their target audience. But I realized this year that when your YouTuber is in a relationship, it affects you just as much as it does their content.
We love to “ship” people. Even though YouTubers (especially vloggers) are representing their personal life on camera, we can’t help but view it like we would our favorite prime time television drama. We all have our “ships” from our favorite TV shows (mine being Haleb and Spoby on “Pretty Little Liars,” Delena and Steroline on “The Vampire Diaries,” and most of all, Captain Swan from “Once Upon a Time.”) But those are all fictional characters, right? Writers create them for our enjoyment, so can’t we rightfully have an opinion about who they should love and be with? But what about when it’s real life? When it’s real people? When you have incredibly easy access to comment on these people’s lives (e.g. YouTube comments and every social media outlet ever).
I was a big fan of the Internet band ALL CAPS featuring Luke Conard and Kristina Horner. I was also a big fan of their relationship as featured on YouTube. I thought it was cute. I thought it was romantic to be in a band with your significant other. I thought they were both incredibly talented people and it entertained me to watch and comment on their relationship through the Interwebs. Eventually, they broke up and it was quiet so I just kind of lost interest suspecting it happened before they ever made it obviously public. It was only in 2014 when all Hell broke loose on Tumblr and people started posting their stories about their relationships in this weird, interconnected love spiderweb of YouTubers making me realize I didn’t want to know THAT much about their lives.
I lost a little faith in YouTube and humanity after that incident. And I also started approaching YouTube relationships EXTREMELY cautiously. Like Tessa Violet and Rusty Clayton. I love Tessa. She is an absolute inspiration to me and I was immediately suspicious of any real, public romance going on because I had never been witness to one before. Fortunately, Rusty seems like “The Nicest Guy.” (Capitalized because in the dictionary beside that term would be a picture of him.) What I want to celebrate today though is another YouTube relationship that’s moved to the next stage of life: ENGAGEMENT! That is, the engagement of Josh Sundquist and his dearest darling girlfriend (now fiancée!) Ashley Let’s-Keep-Her-Safe-From-The-Stalkers. I think I subliminally saw it coming when I saw pictures of them touring Italy and doing other fun things this summer. About the time Josh made his dating of Ashley public, I wasn’t watching his videos as regularly because (real) life is hard, and my internet sucks, but instead would do Josh Sundquist binges when I needed a pick-me-up. This also meant I might skip over a video or two if it seemed especially “relationship heavy.” Although I distinctly remember watching one video where Josh and Ashley reviewed “Divergent” in an alleyway and being quite taken with her as a person in the way she presented herself and in the way Josh obviously cared about her. I think another part of me though didn’t want to get too attached because of all the DRAMA that tends to ensue as any relationship runs its course.
But what I want to say is that Josh Sundquist and Ashley have restored my faith and hope in online “ships” just a little by their engagement. Mostly I think it comes from Josh just being an upstanding guy with good public relations. If there’s drama (and there’s always drama in any relationship), it doesn’t interfere with his channel’s purpose. Fortunately, his channel has always been a little about relationships (e.g. why he could never seem to get a girlfriend) so when a real relationship finally entered into his real life, it could naturally (if delicately) be introduced into his channel without completely overhauling his main purpose and alienating his fans. Instead, I think he’s got a band of subscribers rallied behind him, excited for this new step in his life.
So unlike my TV ships of Delena or Captain Swan who can never really get married or live a happily ever after, this YouTube ship of Josh and Ashley (Jashley? Ashosh?) does have a future and that makes it all the more exciting! And fortunately, they won’t have some desperate show writers trying to break them apart because they desperately need to infuse life into the series again. (Poor Callie and Arizona from “Grey’s Anatomy.”) They get to be in charge of their future and romance and happily ever after. As YouTube viewers, we’ll probably get to see some of it (e.g. MysterGuitarMan/Joe Penna and Sarah Evershed Penna as they get engagement, married, and have a baby!) But even if we don’t (that is, Josh and Ashley choose not to share it with us which is perfectly in their right to do), what little glimpses we do get will be all the more sweet.
Movie Trailer Proposal:
To Josh: Thank you for being an awesome and insightful YouTuber. I think you can definitely say you “got a girlfriend” now.
To Ashley: Congratulations! I have to wonder if you feel like you’re living a fairytale. Because that’s what it looks like from here. And it makes me so happy for you!
To the YouTube Community: Maybe we should take a lesson from Jashley?
Watch the whole proposal story here!