When I got on to YouTube 5 years ago, it was not cool. Maybe if you played computer games or did beauty, then perhaps, but definitely not if you were teaching English. All people ever used to say to me was, ‘Why don’t you teach in a normal school? / Why are you doing that? / You should do a PGSE,’ (a PGCE is a formal qualification to teach in a proper school.

Now people roll out the red carpet for YouTubers because it’s trendy and thousands upon thousands get on board every day. If you’ve got the right connections, The Times will even make a feature on you for being such an ‘innovative’ and ‘entrepreneurial’ English teacher. Of course, the feature won’t be about learning English because nobody cares about teaching English in England, but if the focus is about making money and your marketing skills, then it’s big headlines and ‘READ ALL ABOUT IT!’

What I want to get off my chest is how backstabbing the online world is. When I was a newb, I didn’t understand this and I willingly helped everyone, to my detriment. I was also into new age thinking and believed that when you help others, the world turns and the universe pays you back in kind. Well, experience taught me some rude awakenings regarding that. It taught me that predators will suck you dry unless you apply discernment regarding who you collaborate or share your knowledge with.

First I realised that people have a screen character which is not who they are in real life. Many of them play it as if they are lovely and really open to collaborate and share knowledge with you, but in reality that’s true only when you do something that benefits them. If you ask for a tiny, tiny something in return, their mask slips as you find out who you’re really dealing with–a ruthless predator. They like it all onesided, with everything going in the direction of their pocket.

During my time in the online world I’ve had some other side businesses. Therefore I know what I’m saying doesn’t only apply to the genre of teaching English. I would say that 95 percent of the people online I’ve ever dealt with in terms of collaboration have the predator aspect behind their mask. Everyone pretends they are best buddies but most of them will eat you for lunch the moment you turn your back.

The bigger somebody gets, the more warped they can become. This is because their fame makes them feel godlike.

Maybe of I wasn’t an introvert, I’d be able to schmooze and play the game, so I could climb the greasy pole faster. But I just can’t do it. I won’t and I can’t. Part of the appeal of working for myself on YouTube was to get far away from office politics and the scheming world of dog eat dog. Only later did I find out that the online world was exactly the same, only the masks people wear are thicker and harder to see at first.

But that said, there is still hope. I do very well from the online relationships I have built among the trustworthy few I’ve had the luck and privilege to connect with. I definitely don’t believe in ‘the more, the merrier’ when it comes to either creativity or business. To any introverts out there, I would say that one good online relationship counts for more than a million more false, backstabbing ones: choose your associates wisely and never give too much before you have tested the waters.