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Asking questions that people are too afraid to ask

It's a format that’s been replicated thousands of times, according to data from YouTube’s Culture & Trends team.

We’ve all been there before...

Whether it’s around the Thanksgiving dinner table or in a lecture hall with 500 people, there are certain questions we’re just too afraid to ask. For some, it’s the stage that scares us. For others, it’s the response that we didn’t see coming, or didn’t want to hear in the first place.

It’s a situation that’s been around as long as anyone can remember, but on YouTube, British lifestyle creator Millie T. is credited with pioneering the trend in her 2019 video, “High School Guys Answer Embarrassing Questions Girls Are Too Afraid To Ask….” From there, “asking awkward questions” took off in the lifestyle community, and it’s a format that’s been replicated thousands of times, according to data from YouTube’s Culture & Trends team.

The format blends two trends that have been observed on YouTube:

The traditional Q&A video + “Assumptions About Me” (a popular Summer 2018 trend where creators ask viewers to submit assumptions they had about them and the creator would either confirm or deny — usually with explanation — in a follow-up video uploaded on their channel).

The result is a fun and awkward twist on traditional Q&A’s via personal looks into the lives of creators (and their networks), packed with unexpected questions and even more surprising answers.  

For many creators, the fun lies in the subject matter. Questions tend to focus on topics such as sex, attraction and relationships; and the most-viewed videos follow the trend of “men asking women” or “women asking men.” 

In fact, creators like Saffron Barker, Millie T. and Haley Pham have each turned the scenario into an entire series on their channels, helping elevate the format among lifestyle vloggers. The Culture and Trends team recently reported that there were more than 2,000 videos uploaded with the words “questions” and “too afraid to ask” in the title, which combined have tallied over 60M views over the past several months. 

One might assume that this spike was partially attributed to:

  1. A simple, easily-replicated approach (first, creators solicit personal, even taboo questions from their audiences and next, they find subjects willing to answer them on camera) and
  2. With Covid-19 keeping many creators at home, and easy access to friends and loved ones, it drives up the appeal to collaborate on this type of content. 

So, there you have it. We’ll spare the rhetorical question that we’re too afraid to ask.