Why Youtube is Great -or- Why Youtube is Terrible

Since YouTube’s inception in 2005, the website has been a cultural phenomenon. The potential for amazing, thoughtful and artistically driven content is endless. Unfortunately though, for every piece of compelling and interesting video available on the site, there are five videos of people getting punched in the stomach — or lower.

Even I have contributed greatly to the site. Every upload finds me sitting watching my progress bar slowly creeping across the screen, fingers crossed, hoping to attract attention and become the next viral video. Unfortunately though it has not happened, and truthfully, it probably won’t. Any amount of creative writing or editing I input into the creation of a film, can easily be trumped by a bevy of kittens riding around on a Roomba vacuum cleaner. I can’t blame the YouTube audience. Kittens are a lot cuter than me, and no amount of digital or special effects can change that.

The problem with YouTube lies in the lack of censorship. I am not referring to censorship in the sense of shielding inappropriate content from those too young to see it. What I’m referring to is the need for a system to filter out the content that is inappropriate for anybody to see.

To illustrate this point, I did a search for the most absurd video I could think of. I typed into the search block “guy punches himself,” and just for good measure I added the words, “really hard,” to the end. The video I was directed to had over 5,000 views attached to it. Approximately 5,000 people had either conducted this same exact search, or had been coerced into watching the video by its creative title which was — I’m sure you’ve guessed it already — “guy punches himself really hard.”

We need to ween ourselves off of these short 30 second videos of fleeting entertainment. As compelling as a video of a guy punching himself really hard is, we need to stop encouraging it. We must hold ourselves to a higher standard of entertainment and reward those artists who put so much time and effort into the creation of original and thought provoking content.

If we continue to pool our attention toward the gut punchers and precious kittens, eventually that may be all we have. And as cute as those kittens are, I know — or at least hope — that we all prefer a little more substance with our entertainment.

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About Kyle Hilliard
I used to be a freelancer. Now I write for Game Informer magazine. Someday, when the time is right, I will grow a mustache.

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