You (and Several Companies) Tube

I obviously really like to try and be clever with my titles. Just roll with it. You’ll get used to it eventually.

I had originally asked people for ideas for a potential podcast , but I think this idea might work best as a blog post, so here I am, about to discuss my love/hate relationship with YouTube.

So back to the very beginning (a very good place to start), I spent my preteen years and beyond immersed in YouTube. Originally my brother and I made videos of us playing Nancy Drew computer games. He has maintained the channel very well and has expanded into other game walkthroughs, but I’m now only an occasional guest.

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My brother and I have played through every single Nancy Drew game by this point. I think back to us, just wanting to produce creative content as a hobby, and wish the site still promoted that for others.

At one point I even started my own YouTube channel. The username to this day still makes me cringe: peacepup2397. Which later turned into peacepup23971 after I deleted the first channel and tried to restart it, but I was awful at consistency. Since I started out as a middle school student, I didn’t want to show my face, so I used Beanie Babies (yes, those 90’s little animals full of beads) as my “face.” I can see why people made fun of me.

But besides that, even when I wasn’t involved making videos, I was always watching them. YouTube has exposed me to so many different ideas and interests I don’t know if I’d really consider on my own. For example, I hated makeup for the longest time, so used to the dramatic dance recital looks, I had absolutely no interest on wearing it on a daily basis. At least until I stumbled upon the YouTube community of beauty gurus. Girls like me taught others how to nail makeup looks and where to find the best products. Now I find applying makeup therapeutic and consider Sephora one of my safe havens, and I can thank YouTube for that.

YouTube also led to me to become more comfortable with myself and recently developed my immense interest in veganism. If I ever feel lonely and none of my friends are nearby, I usually tend to rely on my favorite YouTubers just to see a familiar face.

I’m but one of millions of mostly young people who feel the same emotional attachment to YouTubers, but many would also agree with me, especially those who have been around since YouTube’s early days, that the website has changed dramatically. Very rarely do you find people who are just making videos with no interest in making money from it, whether it’s from AdSense or company deals. Never did my middle school mind think that one day my subscription box would be full of videos considered “ads” or have a “sponsored” disclaimer attached. So many of my subscriptions are to young people who see no value in college when they can move to Los Angeles and make a very generous income through YouTube.

One important I need to mention is that even though YouTube has created some recognizable faces, these people are by no means “famous” in terms of the entire population. Young people who watch YouTube regularly will know who they are, but anybody else is clueless because YouTube is still a very different sector of media. When companies put YouTube “stars” in commercials, in magazine spreads or on TV (remember that season of the Amazing Race?), people above the age of 30 have no idea who these people are, and I don’t think that’s changing any time soon. YouTube is just not translated well into other media for a majority of people. YouTube stars still make books, makeup lines or fragrances and see success, but those products still tend to target the fan base they already have rather than finding new fans.

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My family and I have always watched the show, but this season, my parents were completely clueless about who these people were. Even I only knew a couple of teams, and I think that disconnect is here to stay.

Even though yes, money is great, and being able to earn a living from a creative outlet is great, but that has led to YouTube losing that genuine quality of allowing anybody to sit down with a webcam and talk about anything. Now those wanting to start YouTube have to immediately buy the best cameras, microphones, lighting and editing software to even be considered, which really takes out the accessibility aspect of it. The videos themselves look so produced, they’re basically trying to be their own TV shows. Instead just producing content for fun, so many feel the need to sell themselves so they could maybe make a few extra bucks.

I have to realistic and realize that YouTube is not going back to those original days I know and appreciate, but hope the community can encourage those people who maybe have lower subscriber numbers and don’t have the best equipment, but they’re real. You know they aren’t about to sell you something. You know they aren’t trying to build a certain personality, but are just themselves.

That doesn’t mean I plan on leaving YouTube any time soon. Despite these changes in recent years, I still find myself on the site, but my guess is that it won’t be able to expand much further. The site is already trying to sell a paid service for exclusive content, but I’m not buying it. The audience base who watches specific people is still very young, and even content producers are also very young, and there’s not much enticing other groups of people to start. It’s difficult for me to picture where Google wants to try to take YouTube next. Maybe they’ll prove me wrong. I guess I’ll just continue reminiscing the down-to-earth days of the site as the industry it has become sees further commercialization.

And what am I going to do now? You guessed it: watch a YouTube video.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

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