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YouTube: Where Has It Taken Us?

YouTube – What economic, artistic, cultural impacts do you imagine YouTube could have on American society and why?

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YouTube affects American society the way most social media networks do, by exemplifying the extremes and furthering the human connection to technology and the Internet. By its very nature, the Internet is cold and inhumane, completely imagined two-dimensional pages that have no warmth. Even our Facebook and Twitter homepages have elements of a clinical and desensitized blue.

YouTube reimagines that. It allows people to easily record themselves and put a human face to the Internet, as well as to express all of their innermost thoughts. Whether they do this via video blogs or via funny or created videos, every post on YouTube says something about its user by showing what that user thinks is worthy of a video. In that way YouTube is more engaging than a lot of the more informational sites on the Internet. Thus, YouTube culturally affects American society by strengthening the deep bond that it has with technology and the age of information. On the flip side of that, though, YouTube also brings out the very worst in people, particularly when it comes to racism and racist comments. I do not fully understand why this is, but I think it may come from American society’s pressure to constantly be politically correct. When the masses are given a platform where they can say whatever they want with no one to hold them accountable, maybe they take it a little too far.

There is a documented “Youtube Effect” which shows how Youtube has made everyone a sort of “citizen journalist.” This is a proven way that Youtube connects people to what’s going on all around the world, and importantly engages the youngest generation to conflicts and issues that could be thousands of miles away.

Economically, YouTube’s effect depends on the market you are considering. It definitely expands a company’s options for marketing, and if the company is capable of low-cost creation of a video, they can then post that video for free. On that same note, though, anyone can post a review of any product, whether it’s just or not, on YouTube, for free. Recently, the appearance of YouTube ads has definitely detracted from the free market origins of YouTube. I remember the days when I was younger and there were no ads on YouTube videos, but when they started showing up, most people didn’t complain even as much as they do when Facebook changes its layout. It was an inevitable inconvenience, but I do wonder how much of my life I waste on those 30 second suckers.

Artistically, YouTube has had less of an impact in my life than it may have in society in general. I don’t really care to search through YouTube for works of cinematic genius; I just like the puppy videos. However, I do think there is some merit to the accessibility of this platform for displaying creativity. Youtube “stars” are born, and suddenly everyone gets to hear what they have to say, no matter what it is.

I honestly don’t think YouTube was as groundbreaking in its effect on society as other social media sites, but it clearly had some significance. Perhaps it is just a cog in the larger scheme of the Internet’s revolution.

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The Internet: A Free for All or a Place of Freedoms?

The Internet: To what extent is the Internet fundamentally democratic?

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In theory, the Internet should not be democratic—it should be anarchy. There is no single regulating force or regime that decides what is important or what isn’t (unless you have some Google-is-Big-Brother theory, but for the sake of this blog’s length, we’ll pretend you don’t). I think the Internet is indeed democratic, but I believe the question is flawed in asserting that that is the “right” or “natural” state of the Internet.

These days, I feel like the word democracy has gotten misconstrued. Its definition is as follows:

de·moc·ra·cy [dih-mok-ruh-see]

noun, plural de·moc·ra·cies.

1. government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.

Thus, a democracy does have a specific power that is controlling the system. The Internet does not have this, nor will ever truly have this. Granted, some countries regulate their Internet, but that is not the doing of the Internet and its constituents as a whole. A democratic Internet would be one where every single user has the opportunity to decide how the Internet works, like what can be put on it, what is stealing from the Internet, and other such issues. However, the Internet does not have that or need that. It is, for all intents and purposes, a free for all. Granted, there are certain regulations with copyright and laws in the United States, but these do not exist in the Internet. In fact, a lot of the exist because of the Internet, like laws regulating music downloading because of Napster, for example.

Also, one must consider that the Internet is not a body that even truly can have one system of government. Instead, it is the amalgamation of a mass of ideas from different people, different languages, different societies, different countries, etc. etc. This is what I think makes the Internet a little democratic. The pressures of what is popular and what isn’t creates a sort of “election,” as what “wins” is what will pop up first on other social media sites.

To return to the original question, I do not think the Internet is fundamentally democratic nor should it be. Instead, it has a ghost structure of a democratic system due to the way it operates and forces certain issues to the forefront. It also interestingly has a much more complicated system of “parties,” mirroring the political parties we see in America today both literally and in other areas. These parties are the users you see competing with one another on Twitter, forums, and other posts.

There is plenty of evidence that the Internet influences democracy, but the Internet itself is not a structure that can be democratic. Although the Internet has some elements that make it seem democratic, it simply cannot be due to its sheer size.