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David Dobrik helped redefine YouTube culture four years ago, and people are celebrating

David Dobrik helped redefine YouTube culture four years ago, and people are celebrating


#4yearsofDobrik is going strong

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David Dobrik is celebrating four years on YouTube this week. It’s an odd anniversary, but the celebration happening right now on Twitter and Instagram is an acknowledgment of how much influence Dobrik’s videos have had on YouTube culture.

Dobrik, who has more than 13 million subscribers, started his career on Vine. When he came to YouTube in 2015 — alongside other popular Vine stars like Jake and Logan Paul, Lele Pons, and Liza Koshy — he brought the app’s quick-cut style with him, using short run times and fast cuts to his advantage. It propelled him to huge success, and it led to a wave of creators who copied him, many of whom continue to shape the site’s content today.

Leaning into the Vine aesthetic that made him popular put him in sharp contrast to most major YouTubers. While his counterparts were sitting down in front of a camera, creating longer videos that told a single story, Dobrik chopped everything up into miniature acts. The opening of a video might last seven or eight seconds and have nothing to do with the rest of the video. This would be repeated over and over again for four minutes and 20 seconds — the length of nearly every Dobrik video.

Most importantly, every video features the same cast of revolving friends. The video can be mundane (driving around Los Angeles or hanging out in an apartment) or grandeur (flying to Hawaii for a day to prank a friend), but the vlogs are rarely focused on David. He’s one of the few popular YouTube vloggers who isn’t the primary focus of his videos. He wants people to know his friends and make his fans feel like they’re part of the group, lovingly referred to as the “Vlog Squad.”

Think of it like Friends, but for vloggers. Essentially, Dobrik created the first sitcom-vlog. There are musical transitions, a returning cast of characters that drive the story forward, and Dobrik’s laughter acts as a laugh track for viewers. We know when to laugh because Dobrik does, and it all has to do with his friends’ antics.

Other YouTubers quickly emulated Dobrik’s style: there are how-to videos teaching people how to edit like Dobrik and breakdowns examining why his videos work so well. Since Dobrik’s Vlog Squad gained popularity, other vlog groups like Savage Squad or Sister Squad (one of the more popular groups) have sprung up. YouTubers have even moved in with each other to emulate Dobrik’s Vlog Squad vibe.

Four years later, Dobrik is still an influential creator, but other editing types have caught people’s attention. Younger creators are trying to become the next Emma Chamberlain, using self-deprecating humor and behind-the-scenes clips from editing sessions to connect with their viewers. YouTube goes on.

But Dobrik already feels larger than YouTube. He’s collaborating with Hollywood actors and influencers like Kylie Jenner and hosting major events like the Teen Choice Awards. He also has a part in the upcoming Angry Birds sequel. Like fellow creators Lilly Singh, Jeffree Star, and Anna Akana, Dobrik is looking beyond YouTube as his career grows. He’s already slowed down his YouTube output, going from uploading almost every day to a few times a week, and he started in on other ventures like podcasting.

Dobrik told teen magazine J-14 that he wants to eventually work in late night (like Singh, who is taking over for Carson Daly on NBC), but his current focus is on YouTube. He hasn’t lost sight of the platform that allowed him to experiment and grow into his own or the people who watch him every day.

“I was talking to my high school teacher a couple months ago and he was telling me that he took a poll in class of what students wanted to be, and 60 percent of them answered YouTuber, which is actually unreal,” Dobrik told J-14. “I think the internet just makes it a lot easier to consume content and I think people are giving more respect to the people that are on it, which I think is really important.”