By Gloria Knott
Jenn McAllister, 19, is a popular YouTube sensation. Her memoir, Really Professional Internet Person, features personal photographs, stories, and top-ten lists about her journey into YouTube.
“Hey, person I can’t see,” she begins. “I’m Jenn McAllister. I’m used to talking to people I can’t see, because I’ve been making and posting videos on YouTube for almost seven years under the username Jennxpenn.”
McAllister says she was initially nervous about posting videos. “I didn’t want to tell anyone how old I was or my last name, basically because I believed everyone on the Internet was a creepy dude with pizza sauce on his sweatpants living in his mother’s basement,” she says. Now McAllister carries over 2 million subscribers on her channel.
I would not call myself a “fan,” of McAllister’s, but I’ve known of her YouTube channel since 2012. Did I pick up her book because I saw a familiar face on the cover? Sure. Would I have read her book if I had no idea who she was? Probably not. If you follow McAllister, this book is for you. If you have no idea who McAllister is, it’s probably not a book you’ll be too interested in (unless you’re fascinated with YouTube culture).
Although McAllister often references YouTube lingo, such as VidCon or other popular YouTube sensations, she provides great definitions for these terms, presumably because she realizes that not everyone knows what VidCon is, or who the popular collaboration Our2ndLife is. Because of this, Really Professional Internet Person is a book that my 80-year-old grandmother could easily comprehend, even though she probably has little familiarity with the likes of YouTube.
McAllister provides readers with a true sense of her life and shares lots of stories for her fans, but her personal story-line is fairly similar to other YouTubers. McAllister was shy, dealt with bullies (or as she prefers to call them: “assholes”), looked to YouTube as a confidant, and eventually found happiness in filming comedic videos. When her videos became popular among her peers at school, McAllister was bullied even more. It seems to be the same storyline for many other YouTubers and celebrities. It’s great to share your story, but McAllister’s is nothing unheard of.
When I was younger, I owned autobiographies by Justin Timberlake and Hilary Duff. I read them because I was a fan and wanted to get a behind-the-scenes look into their lives. If you don’t like Chelsea Handler, or if you don’t even know who Chelsea Handler is, are you going to pick up her book of hardnosed humor? Probably not.The same applies to Really Professional Internet Person. While celebrity autobiographies may be great reads, they mainly appeal to fans.
Despite its predictability, Really Professional Internet Person is well-written. It isn’t the type of book that will have you gripping the edge of your seat, but it’s fun to read. As a woman close in age to McAllister, I found her book to be very relatable and jam-packed with life lessons. She provides pieces of advice, such as things middle schoolers shouldn’t worry about, and dealing with negativity. She also touches on serious topics such as coping with anxiety and developing an eating disorder. “For me, the most important reason to talk about these things is that someone might be going through exactly what I’ve been through,” McAllister says.
McAllister also talks about the time her YouTube channel was hacked. Someone began deleting her videos and posting weird videos in their place. This was clearly devastating for McAllister, but she is able to joke about it. “I’ve never been one to use the obvious passwords like ‘Password’ or ‘1234.’ Seriously, if these are your passwords to anything, put down this book and go change them right now! But, you know, come back, please,” she says.
At this point, you’re basically feeling like you’re living in McAllister’s shoes. Part of the reason is the fact that McAllister talks to readers as if they’re her best friends gathered around a campfire roasting marshmallows. Rather than boring readers to death with basic facts of her life, she makes a true connection with readers. However, many autobiographies by celebrities also try to bring that same connection to the table, so McAllister isn’t doing anything new there. On the other hand, McAllister, since she is of course a comedic YouTuber, she brings her hilarious sense of humor and her unique to the book.
For example, McAllister talks about someone she calls her boyfriend. “We’ve been together for, like, ever. We started flirting when I was in elementary school. Even when I dated other guys, I was really thinking about him,” she says. “Most of you guys probably know him pretty well. His name is The Internet.”
McAllister dreamed of making YouTube a full-time career, and she’s done exactly that. “If you know what you want and work hard at it, no one can stop you,” she says. Perhaps the most important quote to gain from her book is one from her high school teacher, a Mr. Hentz. “Do what you love and the money will follow.”