A couple of days ago, I watched a six-year-old play “Für Elise” on the piano. Neither of his parents knew how to play the piano. He had never had a formal lesson.
He had learnt to play the tune from a YouTube video.
I could probably tell you ten other stories like that. A hundred, if I ask around. A million, with the help of the Internet.
What’s my point here? My point is that YouTube is changing how we live our lives, not just by providing us 100,000 hours of cat videos.
If I were a quirky lecturer at some information conference, I would say (in a nasally voice) that the purpose of YouTube can be summed by 3 Es: entertainment, education and entrepreneurship.
It’s pretty evident that YouTube provides entertainment. Who needs cable television when you have a computer and Wi-fi? YouTube is 100% free and you can basically watch anything you want on it, at any time. Why watch a lion hunt a gazelle on Discovery Channel when you can watch a cat freak out over a cucumber on YouTube? Okay, you might not like either choice, but the fact is, on YouTube, you actually have such an option. In a few years, maybe there will be videos of lions freaking out over cucumbers. We’ll see.
The education landscape has been changed by the arrival of YouTube, or more specifically, tutorial videos. Need to know how to change your car’s oil? Play Minecraft? Use Photoshop? Write an essay? YouTube has all the answers. This isn’t just salvation for teachers when they need a substitute teacher, it’s also a path to self-education. With YouTube, we can learn more, do more and generally become smarter and more equipped for the modern world, whether for the workplace, for entertainment, or whatever else.
And of course, let’s not forget that YouTube was a key factor to the rise of Justin Bieber. With YouTube, anyone can become famous. With YouTube, anyone can share and spread ideas. With YouTube, ordinary people can make videos to connect with the world.
So technically, by deciding to watch videos on YouTube instead of watching mainstream movies and television, you are helping to destroy the stranglehold huge media conglomerates like Disney, Universal and Fox have on entertainment. Well, you’re also helping to launch the career of some minor filmmaker or singer, and that’s great too. (Unless you don’t like Justin Bieber.)
The advent of video sharing sites like YouTube has completely changed how we learn, relax and work. Need to understand the Great Depression? YouTube. Want to relax and don’t have a television? YouTube. Need to advertise a new product your company is making? YouTube.
In all honesty, life would be a lot different without YouTube. No one would know Justin Bieber. No one would have Minecraft videos to watch. No one would get in trouble with their teachers for being distracted in class. (Never mind, that still happens without YouTube.)
So what was the whole point of that? Well, if you think you have the next Mozart walking around your house in diapers, you can probably save money on piano lessons by teaching them off YouTube, and then make some money by posting the YouTube videos. Just a thought.
So, what else do you think about the effects of YouTube?