A video streaming website, YouTube, has gotten in the top three most visited websites globally, along with Facebook and Google. The “broadcast yourself” idea became incredibly popular and has taken over the world. There are years of video information stored in YouTube’s database and constantly retrieved from it by everyone who has Internet access. YouTube is not just a video storage website; it is a medium for information and a trendsetter in every area of human lives.
The central idea of YouTube was people broadcasting their own personalities to others. While it all was a novel concept once, right now, posting a video of oneself is regarded as a new social norm. This especially concerns young people who need to show off to get accepted by peers. A public video online serves as the proof of one’s capacities, extraordinariness, and often of the mere existence.
Every minute, the total running time of all video materials uploaded is about 300 hours. Those videos have different purposes which vary from education to entertainment, promotion of ideas to mere trolling. YouTube plays a role of a public forum where, based on the number of views, likes, and subscriptions, new celebrities emerge and new ideas are popularized. Below are some examples of media stars who emerged thanks to YouTube.
There is a story of Brooke Brodack, a comedian who got her 18-months contract with Carson Daly of NBC because her talent was noticed via her YouTube channel where 45 million people were watching her uploads. There is also the (in)famous Justin Bieber who gained his popularity after his mother posted a video of his performance on YouTube in 2010. Or take Grumpy Cat, Tabatha Bundesen’s pet whose earnings topped the yearly income of some Hollywood stars. These are just few examples of how social media like YouTube can turn somebody into a celebrity after he or she gets noticed by the right people (or millions of fans).
The existing stars benefit from the media too. Performing artists choose to publish their singles on their channels or upload concert videos, in order to tease their fans into buying records or tickets to their gigs. Besides, everyone can now record a video of an event with a smartphone and upload it online. As a consequence, music publishers and recording companies have become not as important as YouTube ratings.
Apart from a star-making factory, YouTube has another purpose: promotion of ideas and knowledge. There has been a rise of educational channels and those which bring science to the masses. Vsauce, a popular YouTube channel known for exploring scientific issues and explaining them in a simple language, has over 9 million of subscribers. Each of the channel’s videos is watched several millions of times. Thanks to channels like this, more young people these days are keeping up with the current scientific ideas, research, and discoveries.
YouTube is also used by politicians to spread their messages and win the electorate. Debates, promo speeches, and other campaign-related occasions are immediately uploaded on YouTube. Comments to the videos serve as the chance to communicate with politicians and their representatives. This has a reverse side too, as the audiences use YouTube to show their irony towards politicians. Thus, a video mix of the smallest mistake made by a public person on camera can spread like wildfire and harm the reputation in minutes.
YouTube has changed the way people receive visual information by becoming a substitute to television for many. It is mainly free (there are paid channels too) and it is always available. There is little advertising, and one can skip the ad with one click. However, just like many people have shifted to Internet-based visual media to avoid irritating ads, a lot of people have also been watching ads on YouTube. The new media has shifted people’s attention from brands to shared ideas.
YouTube has become over its time of existence a powerful tool for promoting ideas, messages, and images, creating memes and setting new trends. However, just as YouTube can turn one into a celebrity and bring immediate success, it can also ruin one’s career in a very short time. This is a part of the cost people pay for a possibility to shoot off instantly and be on the tongues of men.
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Social Media: YouTube essay part 2
Social Media: YouTube essay part 1
Users publishing their videos on YouTube are almost free being limited in publishing explicit videos and some other videos only which are either illegal or offensive for publication and contradict to rules of YouTube. The freedom of creativity is, therefore, enormous and people create diverse videos implementing their most daring ideas, while users respond to those videos and determine which videos become mainstream and which do not.
Furthermore, YouTube becomes an important social media which can be used for sharing socially important information, such as video records of socially important events or culturally significant events, and so on. In this regard, the performativity of YouTube is particularly high.
However such performativity often raises the high risk of the violation of privacy and intellectual property rights. For instance, the publication of videos from a concert may violate the right of an artist or singer (Lombe & Ssewamala 38). In this regard, YouTube has developed the policy of the protection of the copyright law and intellectual property rights but still there are plenty of videos that violate those rights of the rights’ owners. However, such violation of human rights, including the privacy right and intellectual property rights is the ultimate manifestation of the performativity-orientation of YouTube.
Furthermore, along with sheer documentary videos, there are plenty of fake videos created by users to publish on YouTube. These videos also reveal the performativity of YouTube because they stimulate the creativity of users to make a performance, a show that will attract other users. These videos are the sheer creativity of users but the point is apparently to attract the attention of the audience and increase the interest of users to the videos. In this regard, the performativity of videos apparently becomes prior to the content or messages conveyed by users. In fact, the content or message may be insignificant or even absent.
At this point, it is important to dwell upon the social significance of YouTube as the social media. On the one hand, there are many admirers, who view YouTube as the great social media which allows users to share videos and to communicate video messages to the global audience instantly. The performativity of videos and YouTube as the social media attracts the huge audience and helps users to share videos successfully.
On the other hand, there are many critics of YouTube, who view the social media as the media violating privacy and intellectual property rights and publishing controversial videos from the ethical point of view (Lombe & Ssewamala 38). In such a situation, YouTube is perceived as the social media that causes numerous controversies caused by the violation of basic rights of individuals and organizations. The efforts of YouTube to protect those rights are not very successful so far, although the current policies of YouTube provide certain protection to the privacy and intellectual property rights or copyright.
At the same time, what is beyond a doubt is the popularity of YouTube and its contribution to the mainstream culture. At this point, it is possible to refer to the case of pop music since many singers have already started to use the full potential of YouTube to promote their new works. This trend reveals the full extent to which YouTube becomes performativity-oriented because users, including pop singers and stars use YouTube as the tool to promote their works and their brands. On the other hand, YouTube allows average users to become stars, if they manage to create a performative video and attract many users. At this point, it is possible to refer to the experience of the now popular pop singer, Psy, who was absolutely unknown internationally but after his video clips were published on YouTube and gained a large number of views, he became one of the most popular pop stars today.
Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is important to place emphasis on the fact that YouTube is an influential social media that is fully oriented on the performativity because it is the performativity that attracts many users and makes YouTube the mainstream social media. At the same time, YouTube has a considerable impact on the contemporary culture because it contributes to the formation of contemporary cultural values, trends and norms. For instance, videos popular on YouTube contribute to the formation of certain cultural norms and values, which people perceive as mainstream because of their popularity on YouTube. However, in spite of its performativity, YouTube is still a controversial social media because the problem of the violation of intellectual property rights, copyright law, possible threat to the privacy right of people and other issues make functioning of YouTube questionable. In such a situation, the popularity of YouTube is the major factor determining the resistance of YouTube to any accusations and claims concerning possible violation of human rights.