During the process of writing blogs I realized that there is so much that we take for granted nowadays. Several pieces of digital structure have been normalized, people don’t think about them anymore. Additional to the fact that we don’t think about them anymore, we can also no longer imagine our lives without them. This is what I thought when I was scrolling through YouTube to look for inspiration for my next blog.
I still remember the first YouTube video I ever watched. It was the music video ‘Misery’ from Maroon 5. Of course twelve year old me knew what was up while listening to a song with a title like ‘Misery’. I had that on repeat for about a month, and I think I still now that music video by heart. Looking back now, I see that that video was posted 8 years (!!) ago, on June 30th, 2010. YouTube then was mainly music videos in my experience. I also really enjoyed watching Shakira videos, as I wished that I was there dancing with her in her videoclips. As time passed on YouTube, I was able (and allowed by my parents) to make an account, which essentially meant that I could start uploading content as well. Back in the day, this concept was wild.
The Rise of YouTube Stars
Nowadays, YouTube has many content creators that share their music, make-up tutorials, vlogs and life advice online. Names as Markiplier, Jeffree Star, Shane Dawson and Grace Helbig have managed to turn their hobby into a full online career. They are now called influencers and have attracted followers, sponsorships and advertisers’ money. The money entered the YouTube scene later, as business realized that YouTube is an easy way to reach a big audience. Some YouTubers have over 10 million subscribers and it is understandable that a company would want to advertise itself on an account that has millions of viewers worldwide. These revenues allow for more content creation and more different YouTubers to enter the scene.
Some YouTube accounts have such an intense following that the creators are able to undertake worldwide tours and launch their own products onto the market. YouTube stars are branching out to businesses and they are becoming entrepeneurs. Their online popularity is turning into their biggest moneymaker.
Aside from the money aspect that has come into the YouTube realm in the last five years, most YouTubers had other incentives to start making videos. Some do it for fun, others do it for educational purposes, but in general most influencers try to have a positive impact on the environment around them. A lot of YouTube channels that I follow contain positive messages for the LGBTQ+ community and other channels focus on Women’s rights and ‘letting girls be girls’. This positivity and the smart use of their platform allows for their voice to reach a large audience.
Some YouTubers however let this type of fame get to their heads, as some YouTubers have managed to get into the headlines linked to controversies. This caused their fanbases to either stand behind them fully, or fall apart. For certain YouTubers with a particularly young audience this is something to take into account, as their actions could influence (and potentially damage) young teens.
All in all it is safe to say that YouTube has changed tremendously over the last few years. From a small website initiative it has grown out to be one of the biggest and most famous content sharing websites, that has even monetized its content creators (that essentially just upload videos on the website). I am very glad that YouTube managed to develop the way it has, because most of my daily entertainment comes directly from this website. Their range of content has grown exponentially and I think (and hope!) that YouTube still has a bright future ahead, based on its policy and all the money that is surrounding the YouTube space nowadays.
Nice blog, Sarah!
Regarding the YouTube text (Burgess and Green, 2018) we read and in connection with your post, I truly think that Youtube is not just a social community where to share knowledge and experience, but also a space for peer learning. As you also say, these Youtubers can ‘influence’ (or in somehow be an example for) teenegers. I would like to stress this point as I have a 14 years-old brother who loves videogames and watches lots and lots of video on Youtube because he wants to improve the way he plays. What’s more, after watching these videos, he usually discusses about them with his friends. Therefore, I would say that Youtube creates a sort of ‘game culture’ through which juniors (or whoever) can create their own (offline) communities. So, this powerful online community can shape other smaller communities.
Sarah. thanks for your blog!
I am such a lover of Youtube, so reading about my favorite internet platform was a pleasure! A couple of years ago I was also under a hype wave of being a blogger and even had an attempt to be a youtube-influencer, but my motivation was too low, so it never ended up somewhere (sometimes I think that I lost the greatest opportunity, but whatever).
Searching for great content right nowadays is so hard, so I am really glad to hear that you still can find there a lot of positivity. Maybe you can share with me some of your best-loved channels?