The 2013 Orientation: The Art of YouTube

I just read an article on CNN about something most everyone knows about YouTube. In my column last week, I talked about YouTube briefly, in the form of the Vlogbrothers, who have attained internet stardom.

They aren’t the only ones. As CNN points out, YouTube is a giant community that, within itself, breeds smaller communities based off of people – vloggers – who have somehow cracked the code and gotten millions of people to watch them – myself included.

On my YouTube, I currently have 46 subscriptions, though I’d be lying if I said that I only watch those channels. My YouTube preference ranges from the comedic (charlieissocoollike, Dave Days, nigahiga) to the oddly specific (BookTube, Feast of Fiction, hankgames). Each day, all the people I mentioned and thousands more get billions of hits, but they don’t do anything but sit at home and make movies.

And yet, I can spend hours on YouTube finding yet another video I have never seen before. Normally, this would seem to make the market saturated – why would I want to listen to Sam Tsui, a musician who gets his income primarily from YouTube using home recordings, when I can go watch the newest Panic! At The Disco music video?

But I think that’s what makes it work so well. YouTube has an audience of the world, and it caters to every single aspect of that audience. Not only that, it caters towards the mood of the audience. I’m bored, so I watch someone parody the life of a college student; I need a break from studying, I look up a new artist I’ve never heard of; I need inspiration for my history paper, so I look up an action video created without the help of Hollywood. The options are limitless, and it makes YouTube one of the most innovative and artistic tools of my generation.

But it also makes me wonder. Where will the next generation fit in? Will they just feed into the YouTube mantra, giving advertisers even more money with every click? Or will YouTube slowly fade into oblivion, just a social network that will be remembered only in name (R.I.P., MySpace)?

I love YouTube, I love the D.I.Y. feel, and I love that it isn’t someone I can’t relate to that is talking to me. I love that they are able to interact, reply to comments, and make videos that relate to the everyday, mundane problems I go through. I love this community, but I think that as both an artistic medium and a creative outlet, it is only the starting point for the internet.

Jeannie Marie

A Venn Diagram of hipster music, sappy romantic comedies, nerd culture, adorable puppies, film trivia, totally not rigged awards shows, random illustritive quotes with a dash of not-quite-there-yet charm.

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