I was contemplating whether to write a response to the news that Claude of AFTV fame has passed away.
I then thought that an issue Claude always tried to spread awareness of was mental health.
Long-time readers will know it’s a topic I care a lot about and indeed have submitted articles concerned about how the world of YouTube was exploiting the man’s mental well-being.
Commonly, some comments would say I was jealous of AFTV, but it was always bigger than that, it IS bigger than that.
To those not aware of YouTube football channels, It’s a medium where content is produced for viewers entertainment. My argument is that for a very long time Claude was entertaining to watch but he wasn’t entertained himself. As admin will back me up, I posted my concerns of a human clearly distressed.
We all love our football.
But he was getting too angry about a defeat, shouting too loudly in a debate, taking it too personally.
He himself would claim that the sport was his vice, his outlet. Comforts saved my life, but if Arsenal winning or losing dictated my state of mind then I would hope someone stepped in.
Yet thousands watched every week, as he put weight on, rubbed his temple and was clearly stressed by debate.
He was given his own weekly show where his co-host was encouraged to provoke him. That literally was the selling point of each episode, the angrier the depressed man gets the more subscribers AFTV get.
That’s not an attack on Robbie who’s a decent guy.
But Claude’s legacy should mean we reflect on the dangers of social media and how we treat each other.
Fan Channels sometimes argue that they should now be treated like the rest of the media. In reality though Claude has always been an example of why fans channels will never be mainstream media providers.
Imagine if Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher were discussing Man United and Neville started swearing, rubbing his head, storming off, shouting in his peer’s face? Sky Sports would get him support.
To stress, no cause of death has been confirmed but chillingly the man’s last tweet was that he was about to join his deceased mother.
That was in response to a troll. That person behind his or her key board will have to live with that, as will anyone who has ever sent the man an unpleasant message.
Constantly he asked to be left alone.
Yet there was a contradiction to that. He was asking for a platform where he could verbally abuse managers and players, but didn’t like critique on his own performance. You can see that double standard when you’re thinking rationally, but depression is an illness where your mind is poorly.
You took a person who admitted to being lonely and suddenly put him into this world where people are watching you, Youtubers are acting like your friends, you are validated by how many likes you get.
When you have depression that can be hard, especially when you realise the Internet isn’t the real world.
Many say AFTV dumped him after his racial slur.
Again though, if you were thinking clearly you would know that Robbie in that moment isn’t your friend. He wasn’t putting you on live streams every week because out of all the 60,000 peeps at the Emirates your viewpoint was special.
He’s a businessman who had realised that your outbursts equated to more views – which generates the money.
From experience, when I say that’s exploiting someone’s mental health it’s because words cannot say how dangerous that would have been on his mind.
Imagine being on your own and suddenly everyone is laughing at you (or with you?), so they tell you to keep getting angry, that it’s entertaining, will get you out and about, invited to things …..then it’s gone.
I took part in a documentary and was asked about AFTV. I rightly predicted Claude would be encouraged to keep being explosive until one day he went too far, and sponsors stepped in. That was obvious. The more a company grows, the more advertisers you have to appease, you can’t just be a group of fans saying what you want. It was also obvious he would eventually be removed.
Unfortunately, it was equally clear for a long time that the man was struggling and needed help. Yet people carried on poking.
I have been invited on podcasts before and write on here, but it would never dawn on me to be vile to another human based on something so irrelevant as football.
What makes someone look at Claude, who you could see needed help, and decide to send a cruel message?
In the last few years that was his world, he got caught up in this social media bubble. To show you how naive that bubble is. Robbie suggested that Arsenal as a football club do something to pay tribute to him.
That shows you the bubble of social media. You took someone who had depression and made him think that his voice made any difference.
There is so much that should be learnt from Claude the Youtuber. I’m not sure it will.
It took minutes for AFTV to get taunted on various platforms showing you that lessons haven’t been learnt.
Claude the Youtuber saw this bubble as his escape although it didn’t help his health.
Claude the person would want me to say this ……we have to be better at looking after each other…