Exeter’s Youtube Sensation: An interview with Ruby Granger
Online Features Editor Bryan Knight Interviews Ruby Granger to discuss her meteoric rise as a Study Tuber.
In recent years a genre has taken YouTube by storm: StudyTube. Student content creators have seized on a gap in the market by releasing numerous clips giving an insight into their academic journey as well as offering revision and wellbeing advice. One of the pioneers of this genre is Exeter University’s Ruby Granger.
Ruby’s ethos is productivity, her self-confessed favourite word. Her channel has amassed an impressive subscriber count of over 340,000 and more than 36,000,000 views. Her channel includes daily vlogs, room tours and her popular Study With Me videos. When I sat down to interview Ruby, I discovered just how authentic her Pollyanna charm was.
‘With new Study Tubers, I really try to make an effort to be welcoming and encourage them’
When starting her channel, Study Tubing was not the online phenomenon it is today. Ruby cites Unjaded Jade, Eve Bennett and herself as being early pioneers of the genre. Prior to her channel’s success, Ruby did not receive the welcome one may assume. “When you’re a small creator, people in the YouTube community don’t really take that much notice of you. So for a long time it was quite isolated”. It was only when she hit 2,000 subscribers that she formed a small YouTube community. This experience prompted her to openly embrace upcoming creators. “With new Study Tubers, I really try to make an effort to be welcoming and encourage them”.
Study Tubers have received backlash for the implicit messages within their videos
A recent Telegraph report suggested that a fifth of all teenagers watched Study Tubers during their studies, and a large proportion credited such videos for supporting them. However, Study Tubers have received backlash for the implicit messages within their videos. Ruby’s motivational videos include ‘Study With Me’ vlogs, showing her studying for as many as 15 hours a day. Intense study videos, such as these, garnered interest for her channel and led to a growth in viewership. The chair of the Campaign for Real Education, Chris McGovern, has gone on record to warn of the ‘hysteria’ and ‘panic’ such videos can cause. Ruby explains that “since starting university, I have become so much more conscious of the impact those videos can have… I think it’s important to give a disclaimer but I don’t think that these videos are necessarily intrinsically bad”.
Sharing your life online also poses many challenges for content creators, not least the pressure to excel. Ruby stated “I know, not just think, that Study Tubers have a lot of added pressure because there are students who are following their journey and who, if you don’t do well, think ‘oh I can’t do well [either]’ – which is a really bad mindset and one which I have tried to rotate through sharing failure as well as success”.
‘Social media is inundated with highlights. People don’t necessarily want to see lowlights’
One of Ruby’s most viewed videos was of her ‘Live Reaction to [her] First Year Mark’. The video shows Ruby finding out the results of her first university formative essay. Unfortunately, the result turns out to be lower than she had anticipated and, consequently, she bursts into tears. So, what prompted her to share such a moment? “Of course, I was apprehensive, but most things which are worth sharing do require some level of strength to upload” Ruby answers. “Social media is inundated with highlights. Everything is a highlight. People don’t necessarily want to see lowlights. People are so focussed on themselves [and] sharing this stylised image. Turning social media into a space which is actually real and reflective of real life is so important”. Whilst the video attracted over 700,000 viewers, Ruby clarifies that “the response to this video wasn’t entirely positive”.
Ruby shared how she has created a metaphoric filter to “sterilise” hurtful comments which she, at times, receives. “when you receive a comment often it could be someone saying something which isn’t actually that mean but they just said it in a really really horrible way. So, they’ve just put loads of swear words [or] really horrible names, but actually the substance of what they’re saying isn’t actually criticising you. I really focus on making this filter, so that when I receive those comments, I think ‘what’s the substance of this comment?’… ‘What is this actually telling me?”.
Another way Ruby has dealt with the challenges of YouTube is by creating a small group of fellow student vloggers. This group, including Jack Edwards, Jade Bowler and Eve Cornwell, recently launched The Wooden Spoon podcast, which seeks to discuss topics such as perfectionism, mental health and rejection. “I hope the thing that distinguishes The Wooden Spoon is the fact that it is really student-based and that we are talking about these really important issues from a student perspective”. Ruby went on to address the issue of representation. “I don’t think it’s as diverse as it could be, and that’s one criticism that we’ve got a lot… the fact that we’re all white, middle class [and] none of us really struggle financially. That’s definitely a flaw with the group”. However, the chemistry between the hosts is undeniable. “I’ve really enjoyed working with them […] it’s so nice to have that support system”.
‘It didn’t even cross my mind that people would recognise me on campus’
When starting at our university, Ruby did not expect to be recognised on campus. “I wasn’t actually worried about it. It didn’t even cross my mind that people would recognise me on campus which, in retrospect, was me being naïve because my audience is predominantly student-based. It was kind of surprising to me that on my first day I was walking up Cardiac [Hill] and someone goes ‘oh Ruby!’ and I go ‘do I have a name-tag on?’”.
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Ruby goes on to give her evaluation of why vloggers such as her have resonated with student audiences. “There is something valuable in having a real-life connection as opposed to [watching a] celebrity which is very much placed on a pedestal and shown to be some[one] you can idealise, but you’ll never really reach”.
Her advice to budding creators? “really, it is just about going for it and doing it sooner rather than later… knowing that it doesn’t have to be perfect for you to begin. Just go for it”.
[on the 1st July Ruby announced the release of a kindness journal and her 25-day CANBEKIND challenge]
Ruby’s YT channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6a8lp6vaCMhUVXPyynhjUA