If you haven’t heard of YouTube you have definitely been living under the proverbial rock. The video-sharing phenomenon was something that really everyone saw coming, but how and by who no one was quite sure. Many companies have made forays into the field, but none has done it bigger than YouTube. They are the 800lb gorilla of the niche, even outperforming the “do no wrong” Google in a big way. Not to be outdone, Google (the King Kong of the ‘net compared to that 800lb gorilla) decided to plop down $1.65 billion to bring YouTube in its fold of successful ventures.
So what is wrong with YouTube? Exactly what makes them work – anyone can publish videos. Being seen on the Internet seems to carry the same allure as seeing yourself on TV. You know what I’m talking about, and you’re likely guilty of it too. What do you do when a news crew is on location somewhere, you go to check it out and hope you might end up behind the reporter. How about at a football game, or any sporting event for that matter? That camera swings in your direction and suddenly all sensibility and composure is lost as you leap to your feet and put on a routine that would embarrass a circus clown.
I am not a daily visitor on YouTube, though I have spent some time there searching for humorous or interesting videos. You can’t help but see the effects of it everywhere as they have pioneered the ability for blogs, news sites, etc. to embed video within their pages and benefit from YouTube’s seemingly endless bandwidth. I usually end up on YouTube after having viewed a video somewhere else and deciding I have a few minutes to waste searching for a good chuckle.
Because of this deep-seated need to be recognized or at least have their name tagged next to something, every shmo out there starts posting any video they have on their computer. As a result, we get twiggy the teenage zit faced boy in front of his webcam expounding his knowledge on dating and his female equal in her own starring role shaking her body in ways not intended as she tries to emulate the latest dance moves featured on MTV. The most disturbing part is the latter of these two examples tends to get a lot of views…draw your own conclusions.
I typically wade my way through the YouTube vaults to find something, well, good. Good is definitely a subjective word when applied to web videos. I have tried the “Most Watched” sections, often with the same results. Are the majority of web users so twisted that they actually enjoy these poor cinematic productions? (Don’t answer that; that is what is known as a rhetorical question.) Kids driving around in their car yelling profanity-laden insults out of their windows to anyone or anything they pass by is just not publishing worthy. Lip synch videos are all the craze online, and most of them are really, really bad. Seeing a local basketball game in its poor quality entirety (both in actual play and the video quality) is not my idea of a good time.
Apparently, we are in fact drawn to see Joey head to the hospital yet again trying to emulate the wrestling geniuses of the world by jumping off of his roof to break a table. Ok, I might actually take a moment to see that, but don’t tell anyone. Getting hurt in the most unusual ways is a big part of what made America’s Funniest Home Videos work for so many years.
So why do we do it? Why do we take in all this trash and keep coming back? We all want to be the ones to discover the “diamond in the rough.” Whether it is to just enjoy something new or to be the first one to send it out via email or instant messaging to our entire contact list, we love finding that new, quirky piece that will soon get it’s 15 minutes of fame. Numa Numa, need I say more? How about OK Go with their low budget music video gems? Mentos and Diet Coke display by Bill Nye knockoffs? The list goes on and on. This is the good that comes from letting everyone posts anything and everything.
Do I put up with it to get those gems? In a way I guess I do. But, rather than browse my way through YouTube every day hoping to be the first to find something – which doesn’t motivate me – I wait to visit the “best of” knock-off sites that feature selections of videos that have passed at least some level of screening. That screening may not be TSA certified, but I figure it takes care of at least 95% of the junk I’d rather stick toothpicks under the toenails that see. That’ll do for now until I figure out something better.