Wow, so I just finished watching the Youtube video "An Anthropological Introduction to Youtube" by Michael Wesch. I'm not going to lie, over the past four years whenever a Professor would assign some boring video that was over the length of 3 minutes, I would usually just jump ahead to random sections of the video and look for answers to respond to (I'm sure that I'm not alone in this). I must confess that the same thought crossed my mind for this task the minute I saw the 55:34 length of this video. In the back of my mind I was thinking "Okay, this is way too long! The second half of the 49's game is going to start in a half hour. I'll just look for something that I can say was interesting and write a response about it". Unfortunately for the slacker inside of me, the minute the video began, I was hooked! This video was incredibly interesting and it really made me think about the actual community that is Youtube, and how do I fit into everything Michael is saying. I've got so much to talk about, but I don't want to write too much or chances are you won't read this post and I'll be lucky if you've read this far on my post!
Originally I viewed Youtube as a place where people can post videos as a means to get attention. I never really thought of it as a "New form of empowerment, New form of community, or a new way to connect in ways we couldn't before" As the video continued I began to think more and more about these words and how I use Youtube now. I quickly came to the realization that I am actually an active member of this Youtube community. Initially, I used Youtube solely for the purpose of listening to music or watching music videos. However, almost two years ago I decided that I wanted to learn how to play the guitar, but I really didn't want to pay for lessons. After some searching for tabs online, I decided to search Youtube to see if there were videos that would teach me how to play. I typed in the words" How to play Our Song on guitar" (Yes the first song I wanted to learn on guitar was a Taylor Swift Song) To my delight, I found thousands of videos that could teach me to play this song. I watched a bunch of different videos that people had posted of themselves playing the song and learned how to play my first song on guitar! When I look at it now, this is actually really amazing because the first song I ever learned on guitar was taught to me by people whom I've never met and have absolutely no idea who I am. Yet they connected with me through the images of themselves they posted on Youtube and I, for the rest of my life, will always remember "yourguitarsage" and "kfarrow77" as the people who taught me how to play my first song on guitar.
Here's kfarrow77's video that helped me to learn the song:
Another idea from the video that really caught my attention was the idea that people can actually form a new identity or mask in a new community space where "everybody is watching but no one is there". It's interesting how comfortable most of the people in the Youtube community are when they are posting videos of themselves on the Internet. Lots of these people are posting videos of themselves doing things that they might not be inclined to do at first in a public setting. This in itself is kind of ironic because there would probably be less people watching if they were to do a live version of their video for say 100 people, then the millions that are able to view their video on the net. An example that I immediately thought of was the "Single Ladies Guy" dancing in a leotard in front of his camera to the song all the "All the Single Ladies". In the video he seems incredibly comfortable showing off his dance skills to the world, but the question in the back of my mind is "When he posted this video, if he had the choice to perform the dance in front of his webcam (in the comfort of his own house), or on stage, which would he choose?
Here's the video by Cubbyradio:
As it turns out, after this video gained immense popularity online, and he became a Youtube Sensation and was actually brought out during a Beyonce concert to dance with her on stage. So again my question remains "Did he always have the confidence to perform in front of thousands of people, or did Youtube give him the confidence to perform in public after performing for millions, alone from the comfort of his home? It's much easier to remain anonymous and hide from others comments on Youtube than it is in your everyday life.