When I was young, and I assume you as well, we idolised the people on our tv screens. It is how we became fans of traditional singers, actors and presenters. The internet was up and coming, but there was no wifi around. Geez, that makes me feel old. I work with teenagers every day, and the concept of traditional television is almost alien to them. It is not the stars on television that they worship. It are the self-made stars on Youtube whom they adore.
Youtube started in 2005, but in my memory it did not grow until about 2006/2007. I remember how I had friends who uploaded their own sketches to Youtube, but they did not really get far with them. Fast forward ten years later and Youtube is a phenomenon. Youtubers, or content-creators as they are officially called, are the new celebrities. Basically, everybody can become a star even just by filming their own life. Somehow, we have this fascination to look into the lives of others.
I asked on Twitter why people watch Youtube instead of television. There was one thing that every response had in common. The stuff we see on television is mostly commercial junk. Just try to watch a movie on a tv-channel. The movie will only be interrupted ten times just for commercial breaks. While Youtube does use advertisements too, it is not as bad as television. You just have to sit through a few seconds of ads and then your video will play. It’s perfect.
Another thing that every single person mentioned is the fact that you can watch everything you like whenever you like. All for free! That is the power of Youtube. Whether you want to watch a deep documentary about poverty in Africa or a tutorial on how to do the perfect eyeliner, Youtube has got your back! Youtube is perfect if you just have five minutes left and just want to watch some mindless content in order to relax. Youtube doesn’t rely on time schedules. You don’t have to sit in front of your computer screen at 8.30 sharp if you want to watch your favourite programme. If you want to watch a DIY tutorial at 4 in the morning, nobody will stop you. That is the power of Youtube.
Youtube killed the television star
I find that I often resort to Youtube when I want to watch a video. Of course, there is Netflix for all the movies and series I want to watch, but Youtube is easier. I rarely ever watch television. Back in the day, I used to watch the news every morning. Now I haven’t watched the news in months. However, I have watched a million videos about celebrities and who hates who. I’ve also watched countless vlogs of people I do not know. I don’t really pay attention to the videos and mainly use them as background noise. And while at times I just randomly click on videos I like and watch them without thinking, some people watch Youtubers religiously.
Whenever I ask my first-years what they want to do in life, at least three will say that they want to be a Youtuber. When I ask them who their idol is, about ten will name a Youtuber. Point is, if you are not on Youtube, you will barely have any access to the new generation. They practically live on that site. Every single day I will have a pupil come up to me to show me a video they like. And they rarely ever idolise someone who is insanely talented. As long as they find someone entertaining, they will watch them and stay faithful. It is also a perfect tool for singers and actors to reach their fan base. But teenagers are unforgiving. Take them for granted or do not provide good content, and they will walk. It’s an interesting dynamic.
How long will it last?
That is hard to say. We live in an era that is completely digitalised and will only become more so in the next few years. And while another phenomenon will probably be lurking around the corner, I doubt the reign of Youtube will end soon. At least not until this new generation has grown into adults. But who knows what will happen in the next few years?
Do you watch a lot of Youtube? Let us know!