Only a few years ago, when people heard the word “YouTube”, they thought cat videos and homemade quality. While the cat videos have remained constant, YouTube has grown and changed into so much more than just funny videos to share with your friends; it has become a platform for people to reach out, learn new things, impact lives, and truly make a difference.
Many people mistakenly assume that YouTube is just a website where people can watch funny videos, when there is a multitude of possibilities to explore. Every minute, over 100 hours of video are uploaded to the site. This can range from gaming videos, math lessons, daily video blogs (vlogs), DIY or makeup tutorials, comedy sketches, short films, and the list goes on and on. YouTube has grown so much in the nine short years of its existence; it’s making an impact on the society we know today. Breaking it down, let’s take a look at some amazing things YouTube has to offer.
Starting in 2007, YouTube has more than a million content creators from over 30 countries around the world earning money from making YouTube videos (including a student at Academy who preferred to stay anonymous). Thanks to the ability to monetize videos uploaded, YouTube can place ads in your video. This also means that you acknowledge that there is no copyrighted material in your video. YouTube’s revenue-sharing “Partner Program” makes it possible to earn a substantial living as a video producer- their top five hundred partners each earning more than $100,000 annually.
Through production of short web shows such as “The Lizzie Bennett Diaries”, online mini-series have the opportunity to win Emmy awards (like this show did!). “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries” is an online modernized adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in the form of a vlogging Lizzie Bennett. There are also The YouTube Music Awards (commonly abbreviated as a YTMA), which is an awards show presented by YouTube to honor the best in the music video medium. Individual YouTubers can also win awards through the Shorty Awards (social media) or BBC Radio1 Awards (British vloggers).
News and Politics:
Many YouTube news channels create “visual journalism”, in which citizen eyewitnesses and established news organizations share in content creation. A study done by Pew Research Center also concluded that YouTube was becoming an important platform by which people acquire news. On the more political side, YouTube has enabled people to more directly engage with government, such as in the 2007 CNN/YouTube Presidential Debates,where ordinary people submitted questions to U.S. presidential candidates via YouTube video.
Learning New Things:
Through shows like Crash Course and Khan Academy, students of today’s generation can learn and expand upon nearly any subject there is. Thousands upon thousands of Do It Yourself videos and makeup tutorials have become more popular; allowing people to get super-pricey lookalikes for very cheap. YouTubers like Bethany Mota, Michelle Phan, and Tanya Burr have been able to start their own beauty product lines thanks to their popularity on YouTube.
A Community of Support:
Building a community of support is as easy as talking to other people that share an interest like you- people that can be found in the comments of most any video. Creating videos start a conversation about problems that many people may face or struggle with. Through videos, a content creator can provide hope for a struggling teen. Despite inevitable hatred, large communities on YouTube have been seen to stick together and lift each other up in difficult times.
The anti-bullying project, It Gets Better, expanded from a single YouTube video directed to discouraged or suicidal LGBT teens. Within two months, this video drew video responses from hundreds of influential people including President Barack Obama. Similarly, in response to fifteen year old Amanda Todd’s video (“My Story: Struggling, Bullying, Suicide, Self-harm”) and eventual suicide, legislative action occurred almost immediately to study the prevalence of bullying and form a national anti-bullying strategy.
Uplifting messages can also be found on channels such as Soul Pancake, or Kid President, a young child sharing his thoughts and putting the world into perspective.
YouTube can also create life-long friends and memories. Though you may make friends online, you have the possibility to meet many people with the same love that you share through conventions like Playlist Live or Vidcon, spending time with your favorite YouTubers, as well.
In 2007, the Green Brothers created the charity project known as the Project for Awesome (P4A)- a project in which YouTubers take two days to create videos promoting charities or non-profit organizations of their choice. They raised a total of $483,446, surpassing their goal of $100,000 the first year, and raised $869,291 this past year. Money is raised through donations to an Indiegogo campaign where supporters can pledge money and receive donated perks like signed photographs, books, and art in return. The Green brothers also donate one cent for each comment made on a Project for Awesome video during the event.
While this is only a short list of the amazing things YouTube can do, this website really can make a difference- and you can be part of it!