Is YouTube for You?


You have a final in 20 minutes, you forgot your study guide at home, you haven’t had any lunch and your mother is on your back about studying for the SAT. But cheer up: Somewhere in the YouTube universe, someone is doing something so silly, ridiculous and embarrassing that it’s just about guaranteed to make you laugh.

Chris Harvey (’12), who is renown for his addiction to YouTube, spends hours on the website clicking through videos. Asked why he’s so glued to YouTube, he takes a break from watching a video called “Funny Taser Accidents” to answer, “I like to laugh … I don’t know why.”

However, Urban students aren’t the only ones who have been pulled in by YouTube. According to the YouTube website Fact Sheet, “52 percent of 18-34 year-olds share videos often with friends and colleagues.” YouTube has become a hot spot for people searching for not only laughs, but also news. For example, in 2006, a video aired on YouTube of the Virginia senatorial candidate, George Allen, addressing a man in his crowd as a “macaca.” This name is a racial slur against Native American people. Allen made the unforgiveable mistake of using this name in a speech and was caught on video and broadcasted to the world. Commentators say that YouTube’s ability to spread the video through millions of people caused Allen’s downfall.

Again, earlier this year, YouTube played another huge role in the case of Oscar Grant. On New Years Day, Grant was shot by a police officer in an Oakland BART station, and the video was posted to YouTube. YouTube acted as the catalyst to the publicity of the event and the roots of a lot of controversy and discussion surrounding it. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, “an annotated version of one video uploaded to YouTube on Sunday was averaging more than 1,000 views an hour.” These events are just two examples of many prominent YouTube broadcasted videos that have brought in users from around the world.

But not everyone is a fan. Clara Hendrickson (’12) says that videos such as “doglover199709,” which features a young girl named Jordan who dances in a way that can only be described as awkward and humiliating “is not a sustainable form of comedy.” She believes that YouTube is an abuse of technology and a “consequence of the age we live in” with people who express themselves too freely. Hendrickson also worries that someone like Jordan could become “vulnerable to internet bullying.”

Tanya Zeif (’13) liked YouTube so much she posted a video of herself to it, then pulled it after she realized that it made her embarrassed. The video, of Zeif and her friends dancing to Miley Cyrus songs, seemed like a great idea at first. But after watching it, she realized that it  “made my friends and (me) look bad and sound stupid.” Seeing herself on screen made her feel “like a different person in front of the camera,” she said. The video was up for days before she hit the delete button.

Whether you just watch videos on YouTube or post some of yourself, the bottom line is that YouTube is an extremely powerful tool. The website has the capacity to “show the world who you are… or who you want to be,” says Zeif. So next time you log on to YouTube, take a second to think who’s on the other end of the video you are watching.

Videos posted by Urban students:

Sam Blakesberg (’12)

Walker Henderson (’11)

Gabe Ruimy and ZZ Satriani (’11)

Cash Askew (’12)

Sami Perez (’13)

Videos suggested by Urban Students: