Compiled by Eleni Eisenhart, Editor-in-Chief and Marygrace Schumann, Opinions Editor
YouTube has become an unspoken bond between teens. It has created multiple fandoms in itself, causing for an ever growing viewer population. From the laugh-out-loud comedy to beauty tutorials to the educational videos, YouTube at its core is a getaway from real life; it is an experience like no other. No matter what fandom you may find yourself in, there is a home waiting for you with the click of a button. Play.
Many YouTube fans feel that subtlety in mainstream entertainment is rare. It’s filled to the brim with special effects brighter than stardust and glossy smiles that seem just too good to be true. While many feel Hollywood’s growing glamour has continued to put a disconnect between creators and consumers, people have found a way to make entertainment easier and more accessible with YouTube—the kind of entertainment that makes viewers feel connected to what they’re watching. Instead of squinting up at Hollywood lights, YouTube videos feel like their favorite sweater—simple and cozy.
Though YouTube offers a variety of choices, humorous video bloggers are among the most popular. They allow people to share their personal stories, advance their creativity and shine—without Hollywood’s magic. These videos range from people simply talking about their lives to rehearsed skits to anything in-between. At their core, these videos are all created to make viewers smile.
For senior Rachel Wydra, who watches YouTubers like Cyprien, a French video blogger (vlogger), the simplicity of YouTube is what makes it so worthwhile.
“Even the most simple moments can make a great story,” Wydra said. “Many will take aspects of ordinary life and make them hilarious.”
Instead of spending big bucks, YouTubers can use their everyday lives to entertain viewers. YouTubers, just by being themselves, can create videos that can make viewer’s sides hurt from laughing, their insides feel like bubbles and their heart light up.
Popular YouTubers like Charlie McDonnell, with the username charlieissocoollike, and Dan Howell, also known as danisnotonfire, have become Internet sensations by creating comedic and relatable content.
“I want to spend my life making stuff…” McDonnell said in a post on his blog. “YouTube is the perfect playground for me.”
But YouTube isn’t just for McDonnell and other content creators to play on. Unlike most entertainment, YouTube is not a one way street. The site allows members to comment on videos, fostering conversations between consumers and creators.
Sophomore Paulina Karbowski feels that the number of people that YouTube allows teenagers to reach can be very beneficial.
“I think that the more people you’re surrounded by, the more you’ll learn,” Karbowski said. “Even if those people are just on the Internet.”
These conversations often lead to communities, ones that senior Caroline Purcell feels has been a source of happiness in her life.
“My favorite thing about having a YouTube community is that there will always be people who are just as strange as you are and get as excited as you do about random things,” Purcell said.
Though watching funny YouTube videos may seem frivolous, many find watching everyday people foster their creativity and talk about their lives to be inspirational.
“The vloggers I watch are all quirky and silly and funny and most importantly true to who they are,” Purcell said. “They show all of their viewers that they don’t have to fit inside the world’s idea of beautiful, smart or creative.”
While YouTube’s layout and content creators can make it feel more intimate, like all entertainment, it still allows the audience to escape from their everyday lives.
“It’s a good way to escape from day-to-day life and have a good laugh,” Wydra said.
Ultimately, YouTube viewers feel the entertainment sector of YouTube creates an environment that celebrates communication and creativity. Snuggled up in bed watching everyday people make lighthearted entertainment can be the epitome of cozy, in more ways than one.
YouTube portrays real, ordinary people one could potentially find in their math, English or even their swimming class. What makes someone “YouTube worthy” cannot be classified in a category, making the rise to fame a challenge worth enduring.
For sophomore Alan Zhou, watching this battle to online fame is an everyday occurrence, as his sister Alisa Zhou, a former DGS student, has started making beauty and fashion videos. Although Alisa Zhou’s channel is new and lacks the true fans so many yearn for, her dedication and hard work are easily shown through her videos on her YouTube channel, ThreadSeeker.
“I think that it’s an awesome thing that she’s making videos,” Alan Zhou said. “I think it really encourages motivation and gets one excited about getting new content out. I think that she gets really creative ideas going via her channel, and it helps her express herself.”
Karbowski, who used to make videos herself, believes “being yourself and doing what you love is a common message a lot of Youtubers try to get across…That’s something that I’ve definitely taken away from watching them.”
Doing what you love is something that can be found in anyone choosing to make YouTube videos. As Alisa Zhou has discovered, making your big break online isn’t easy. With thousands of videos being uploaded daily, one’s own video can be lost in the wave of content. Alan Zhou points out “that making videos is hard.”
“People like what other people like,” Alan Zhou said. “And when no one likes your videos, it’s really hard to get your channel growing.”
Regardless of the matter-of-fact nature of YouTube, Alan Zhou believes that YouTube offers a creative outlet for his sister and others to grow and learn as individuals.
“I think that [YouTube]…lets her use her creative self,” Alan Zhou said. “It will probably change her life [because she will be] constantly thinking about how she can make another video. Making videos takes a lot of time and effort, so it might give her some more patience an ideas.”
YouTubers like Michelle Phan and Ingrid Nilsen, also known as missglamorazzi, offer educational and beauty related reviews, tutorials and more, giving viewers a wide variety of what they can watch.
“I think that YouTube has helped teens find their individuality,” Purcell said. “There are all these awesome YouTubers who are doing their own thing and being their weird selves. I think having those examples have helped teens come out of their shells and be proud of their uniqueness.”
Alan Zhou agrees that YouTube offers people like his sister the chance to come out of their shells and shows how having a channel “might let [him]…see how people act [in real life] and if [they present themselves]…different[ly] if they’re in front of a camera.”
Alan Zhou finds that even though his sister has not made it big, and may never, he still hopes that she doesn’t stop making videos because of a lack of viewership.
“She gets really excited sometimes about making videos, and she really wants to see her channel grow,” Alan Zhou said. “She puts in a ton of effort to get the job done. Someone may think a celebrity is a big deal, but I guess we all start at the same point.”
wide variety in their viewing audiences, YouTubers not only have the chance to give back to their viewers, but to teach them as well.
YouTubers like John and Hank Green, the vlogbrothers, post weekly videos to each other, challenging different topics each time in the hopes that their viewers will grow and learn from their channels.
One main reason Purcell enjoys watching YouTubers like John and Hank Green, as well as British YouTubers McDonnell and Jack Harries, also known as JacksGap, is due to their commitment to give back to the community.
While big YouTubers donate to charities, they also inspire the communities they’ve fostered to give back. John and Hank Green’s fans have created a community known as “Nerdfighters” who have loaned over three million dollars to various entrepreneurs in third world countries through Kiva.org as well as donating time and money to other organizations.
“Many of [the YouTubers I watch]…are also doing amazing charity works, like the vlogbrothers and their Nerdfighter community,” Purcell said. “JacksGap and charlieissocoollike also use their Youtube popularity to give back to those in need.”
The Green brothers also started Project for Awesome. This annual event sets aside a day where various YouTubers make videos in support of a charity. These videos push people to give back while teaching them about different issues going on in our society.
English teacher Sue Thornquist has integrated YouTube into part of her classroom routine in order to enhance parts of the learning experience, although she is reasonably wary to the motive behind using YouTube in the classroom.
“I want to say that I’m a little bit cautious when I use technology in the classroom because I think sometimes it becomes a fun, glitzy, gimmicky way to teach different concepts. I don’t know that…it is [always] appropriate or effective for what I’m actually trying to teach,” Thornquist said. “And maybe just because I’m a little bit old school and have been here for a long time, I feel like we sometimes use technology too much just because kids like it.”
Regardless of her wariness, Thornquist uses writer and vlogger John Green often in her lessons, in order to stress points made in class, in turn bringing out the educational side of YouTube in her classroom.
“I do think [YouTube] has a role in the classroom and I do use it to enhance lessons,” Thornquist said. “So I show almost anything by John Green. You know, John Green is an English teacher’s dream. I mean, the man gets on YouTube and he talks about why writers write and how symbolism matters. [He talks about] how things writers choose to write about and include in their stories are actually purposeful and meaningful.”
Though John and Hank Green’s original Youtube channel can be very educational, they’ve also created a YouTube account specifically for educational purposes. On their YouTube account CrashCourse, John Green teaches about literature and history.
While videos like these can be used inside the classroom, their entertaining nature draws people in and makes kids want to learn on their own. YouTubers like the Green brothers are providing teenagers an opportunity to learn outside of the classroom in a way they’re familiar and comfortable with.
As Purcell summed up, “YouTube offers a free space to create and connect with other people you have things in common with. People can build friendships and communities that go on to make some powerful changes in the world.”