For many people, YouTube often seems like spending hours in front of the computer watching other people look stupid, live their lives, or play video games. To others, YouTube is an important source of entertainment, information, and community. As an avid user of YouTube, I thought I’d give some insight into what’s so great about YouTube.
If your working knowledge of YouTube is that it mostly has a lot of funny cat videos, then here’s a recent video on the history of YouTube that does a great deal of summarizing its history and importance to the world in recent times.
Of course, this video just skims the surface and barely looks at the heart of YouTube. To me, YouTube’s greatness lies in the communities it builds and what those communities go on to accomplish outside of YouTube.
YouTube isn’t just the home of viral videos that get passed around on Facebook until you’re more than sick of them. It’s a home for aspiring filmmakers, actors, musicians, artists, animators, and all kinds of creators. It’s built foundations for fan communities like Harry Potter. It’s given people all over the world insight into other people’s lives through vlogging. Cooking, beauty, fitness, parenting, and home decor tips have all found their way onto YouTube. Video game tutorials and play-throughs have become ways to make millions and garner billions of viewers. All kinds of news and reviews are covered on a variety of channels in ways that go beyond televised news’ capabilities. Educational videos covering a variety of subjects have found large viewerships as well as a place in the classroom. And most interestingly of all, I think, is the fandom surrounding YouTube and how the audience responds, reacts, and works together to create and do so much, both good and bad.
A taste of this truer side of YouTube, particularly British vloggers (who have a HUGE following) is covered in a series called Breaking YouTube and combines entertaining journalism with satire and humor. It tackles a variety of topics worth considering about the YouTube community from fandom, being a youtuber, and sexism. It’s geared toward adolescents, but I find that its information and insight is worth watching regardless of age.
This episode speaks to the existential crises that launched many of the popular YouTubers today. Many careers began with crazy ideas and the dream of becoming “crazy internet famous.” It’s about people with dead-end jobs, introverted personalities, and aspirations far beyond their means running with a crazy idea, working hard, and having a bit of luck along the way. You could say it’s the American Dream playing out on the internet, but a dream that persists not just for Americans but people from all places.
Many of these YouTubers who were nobodies at the start of YouTube, posting low-quality, silly videos, are now running YouTube entertainment companies, selling channels to big labels, scoring major promotional deals, and expanding how they entertain and how they reach people across the world.
In fact the stories of some of these big time YouTubers, in this case vloggers, is currently in the process of being made into a documentary.
So if this blog post has sparked your interest in furthering your knowledge of YouTube, stay tuned, because I will be working on some more blog posts that give a more in-depth look at the facets of YouTube.