Prominent YouTuber Lindsay Ellis announced last night that she is quitting content creation, citing exhaustion from a Spring 2021 controversy that saw her canceled by some online commenters.

Ellis made the announcement on Patreon, meaning people not subscribed to her couldn’t read it, but it was reposted to Reddit in the /r/LindsayEllis subreddit.

Key portions of the lengthy announcement read:

My life ended nine months ago – what has been taking up bandwidth ever since then has been a ghost. It’s almost funny, how many people will insist that I have “lost nothing” (you know, because subscriber count is the only metric for success and cancel culture doesn’t exist). One YouTube channel chugging along on algorithmic inertia is not success – it’s just an engine driving on fumes.

2021 has been the worst year of my life. I am traumatized by it. To this day I still have people scolding me by how I handled it, that I should have handled it differently, that I should have “controlled” my “stans”, as if I had the capability to know what any of these people were even saying to strangers on Twitter while I was shitting blood for weeks on end. The worst thing about this whole thing is that I can’t even admit this trauma because of all the rhetorical devices people have already come up with to dismiss it. That centering my own pain is evidence of “not listening” (does it occur to these people that you can listen, and disagree with other people’s conclusions?) That I’m weaponizing my “fragile white womanhood” or whatever to say that having thousands upon thousands of people who you have never met hate you and say whatever will get them the most updoots is traumatizing. That people I used to know would sit there and lie about me on Twitter dot com to the tune of thousands of retweets and tens of thousands of likes, and I just had to sit there and take it. My favorite are the people who dismiss any potential harm I might have incurred as justified because I am a “wealthy, white woman” (I am not wealthy), while these same people’s hearts positively bleed for Britney Spears.

My initial plan was to leave YouTube for Nebula, but I realize now that this is only entrenching myself in a more intimate form of harm rather than the broad, buckshot kind that YouTube invites. I won’t go into detail (not right now, anyway), but I can’t do video content for them either. I can’t make content period. I just can’t do this anymore. There is no healing as long as there is attachment to the thing that makes you suffer, and the thing in this case is being in the public eye at all.

But all I know now is that being in the public eye at all is a losing game, and I regret all of it. I regret every time I’ve ever stood up for anyone – it always backfires. I regret every time I pushed back against something unjust – it was always just used to hurt me. I regret every time I ever stood up for myself – I never did it “correctly.” I regret every time I showed any vulnerability – just more ammunition to be used against me later. I regret every time I ever tried to play the game with peers and colleagues – they will drop you the second you aren’t popular on Twitter anymore. It’s all hollow and brittle, and if there is one thing I have learned this year it is how eminently expendable I am. The good, progressive cis, straight, wealthy white men keep on trucking and coming out on top because deep down, they know that the systems they profess to stand against ultimately exist to benefit them.

And to all the people telling me I need to grow a thicker skin or remove myself from the conversation altogether – you are right. I don’t have it in me to do the former, so I shall do the latter.

In March of 2021, Ellis found herself in the middle of a controversy for comparing Raya and the Last Dragon to Avatar: The Last Airbender, and some of the language she led some critics to interpret her opinion as saying “all Asian media is alike.” Ellis addressed the controversy in her lengthy video titled “Mask Off,” in which she gave some nuanced thoughts on cancel culture and discussed her life in the public eye. The video was itself a point of discussion for several days it was posted, but it obviously did not silence Ellis’ critics.

Reaction to Ellis quitting was similar to the reaction to “Mask Off”: some commenters got in digs while others expressed disgust at the toxicity of Twitter.

Ellis was a member of Channel Awesome prior to forming a niche as a content creator in her own right. Many pointed out that Ellis’ former colleague, Doug Walker, continues to make content despite facing a significant amount of controversy himself.

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