By: Arnel Querido
From piano playing cats to news reports, almost anything can be seen on YouTube. More importantly almost anything can be heard on YouTube. YouTube has become a vehicle for anyone from large scale corporations to the everyday John Doe to have their voice be heard by millions almost instantly. As implied by the infamous President F.D.R. quote “great power involves great responsibility,” being able to communicate to millions of people can have both positive and negative effects. The ability YouTube has to amplify anyone’s voice is a tremendous resource that changes the way we live our everyday lives.
One of the most popular appropriations of YouTube is its ability to produce overnight celebrities. The most famous being none other than Justin Bieber started his musical career by posting videos of himself singing. This was heard by Usher who signed the young talent to his music label and is now watching his young protégé rocket to stardom. Back in the day stars were produced much less effectively through word of mouth and mix tapes or talent shows. Now stars are created from the comfort of their own living rooms. There is however a downside to the voice of YouTube and becoming famous overnight isn’t always a positive thing. Recently a young UCLA student posted a video blog of her day that was viewed as extremely offensive by many Asian Americans. The result was much unwanted attention to herself and her school which she was later expelled.
YouTube is not only utilized by singular users but by companies trying to reach their audience in a less conventional way. In the past advertising was done through physical media such as magazines, newspapers, billboards, and TV, but with the creation of YouTube they can let the advertisement do all the work. In 2010 Old Spice launched an online viral campaign marketing their hygienic products with a comedic series of commercials called ‘the man your man can smell like’. These videos were so catchy that the video spread through the internet like a wild fire. The videos to this day have millions of hits proving their success in reaching a broad audience with little effort. Many other companies have started viral campaigns as the target audience is increasingly more online.
Aside from corporate and personal uses YouTube has become a way to spread news of modern issues affecting the world today. An example of this is a video recorded by children in a schoolyard filming two boys fighting. The video shows a bully antagonizing his victim then attacking him and becoming the victim as the other boy retaliates. This became a large concern for many parents because it showed that bullying is still an issue that kids deal with. On top of this many schools address another form of bullying which is online bullying. Children have voiced their own concerns with self taped messages of personal suffering due to online attacks. This has increasingly become a problem in schools with some events of bullying end up in the victim’s suicide.
YouTube is a powerful tool that is used today to voice and spread opinions. It has connected humanity in a way more intimate than any other media because now it’s as if the media is speaking directly to its audience. This gives it the strength to have its voice heard by many people in a short amount of time. With something so powerful at almost anyone’s fingertips the possibilities are almost endless. YouTube has been used to create celebrities, support revolutions, encourage change, entertain, and spread news. It’s become a new form of communication and given the first amendment a new meaning to ‘freedom of speech.’ I personally don’t create media on YouTube but I will pass on videos that I view as interesting or funny much like other people. I think YouTube will stay relevant to our culture for a long time because it doesn’t just entertain and inform but it connects our culture in a way other social networking media can’t.