YouTube culture isn’t something that can be easily defined.
In a time when the internet and social media have asserted dominance over almost all other entertainment outlets, it’s not hard to see how YouTube has become one of the most prominent video sharing platforms. Accessible for people of any age and background, YouTube has become particularly popular amongst the younger generation where they can fulfill their musical and entertainment needs, as well as a sense of community and togetherness.
What Does Being a YouTuber Mean?
Over the last decade as YouTube has gained momentum, becoming a YouTuber and posting outlandish videos with clickbait titles has become a norm and ideal for many of today’s youth. Popular creator content has varied from viral challenges to day-in-the-life vlogs to mukbangs to song covers to pranks to makeup tutorials to storytimes, and so on, over the last ten years. Content creators have utilised their limitless imaginations to impress, to amaze, to entertain, to surprise and even to disgust, resulting in the creation of tens or even hundreds of types of video content that never previously existed within the realms of television and cinema.
In modern culture, YouTubers are idolized in the same way as A-list singers and actors, sometimes even more so, especially by younger audiences. YouTube has blossomed into a place where the average Joe (or Jane) can build an international audience and make millions from ad revenue and sponsorships, rewarding them with both fame and fortune. However, it’s not only the type of video that attracts the masses, but also the editing, the production and the videography; though YouTube might have once seemed like a place for amateurs, it’s fast becoming a professional landscape with high-level production values.
Another factor that’s hugely important in the popularity of a YouTuber is their personality; charm, sense of humor and wit are valued highly on the platform, which eschews the fictional narratives of television for content that’s based in real life and draws from real personalities, drawing in viewers with the promise of comedy, education, and new forms of entertainment. Often, it’s the drama and shock factors that earn the biggest reactions and propel creators to continue making larger-than-life content, each video wilder than the last.
YouTube culture has given content creators a platform to launch wide-ranging careers and venture into other industries, often finding great success. YouTube gamer PewDiePie has been the most subscribed user since 2013, with over 102 million subscribers. He’s gained a legion of diehard fans, charmed by his funny, genuine, boisterous and unfiltered personality. With the support of his fan base, he’s published a book, released his first videogame PewDiePie: Legend of the Brofist on iOS and Android in 2015, and designed a unisex clothing line with his wife, Marzia Kjellberg, among other projects.
Other Notable YouTubers…
Thomas Stanniland, known as Killem on YouTube, created his channel in 2014. In the five years since, he’s captivated nearly three million subscribers for his ever-evolving channel, with content varying from insane and sometimes dangerous challenges to music to vlogs. Killem puts his own twist and flair on viral challenges that excite his fans and keep them coming back. His popularity has allowed him to devote himself to YouTube full-time.
Beauty guru Patricia Bright posted her first videos in 2009, filming in her shared bathroom, whispering at the camera on top of a shoebox. Today, she has close to three million subscribers, proudly vlogging her life, sharing beauty product reviews and offering makeup tips. As she became a household name and grew in popularity, she found an opportunity to step out of YouTube to write a book called Heart & Hustle, collaborate with Revolution Beauty and MAC while creating an online course for aspiring bloggers.
Lilly Singh started her YouTube career in 2010 and has since posted over 2,200 videos and gained over 17 million subscribers across two channels—not to mention she’s amassed more than three billion views for her vlogs, skits, and parodies. Thanks to her YouTube career, she’s been given the opportunity to dabble in acting, and was even cast in Fahrenheit 451 as Raven, a tabloid blogger who spreads the ministry’s propaganda, and has hosted her own late night talk show, A Little Late with Lilly Singh.
Before YouTube became the entertainment hub it is today, these levels of success and reach would be unachievable for content creators, who often began their YouTube journey with no connections to the celebrity world. The platform has created a new route to fame, success and wealth that can be taken from the comfort of your own bedroom, completely changing the landscape of the entertainment industry in a shift that will undoubtedly only continue to disrupt the worlds of media and celebrity over the next decade.
What Does YouTube mean to young people?
With the rise of YouTube stardom and its ever-growing variety of content, viewers are leaning toward the fantasy that they can become overnight sensations and create a career for themselves through the platform, without fully understanding the hard work that goes into the success of those who achieve fame on these channels. In a day and age where the internet is a tool that can heighten fans’ obsessions and connect them with their idols, it’s not a surprise that they would want to follow in their steps, too.
An online phenomenon, YouTube vlogger David Dobrik has reimagined what it means to vlog, creating mind-blowing fun videos that will surprise you and bring you laughter and tears. Getting his start on the now-defunct app Vine, Dobrik jumped over to YouTube where he now uploads short vlogs. He’s a normal twenty-three-year-old who gets to do cool things and share it online. He resonates with his audience and has become a role model to many — so much so, in fact, that he’s inspired others to start their own vlogging channels.
Not only has he inspired others to post on YouTube, he’s also created an Instagram account to post photos he took with a disposable camera and disposable camera-themed accounts blew up across the app. Though he got a head start gaining fans from Vine, he’s grown his channel immensely just making videos of him and his friends hanging out. It seems so simple, yet viewers don’t realize the hours Dobrik spends to get mere seconds of footage for a vlog, or how many hours he spends editing to get the perfect four minute and twenty seconds video. It wasn’t only luck that got him to where he is now.
It’s so easy to connect with YouTubers that viewers often forget they don’t actually know the person on the other side of the screen. YouTube culture creates an illusion of intimacy between viewers and YouTubers, because content has shifted towards a more personal style in recent years: in 2014, challenge-style videos and pranks were the trend, whereas now popularity lies in vlogs and confessional videos, where YouTubers talk to the camera like they’re talking to a friend. This idea of intimacy and friendship isn’t a complete delusion, as YouTubers often encourage unity and community within their fan bases, and they foster safe spaces for fans to interact with one another in the comments and online and make internet friends in an uplifting and empowering way.
YouTube has given YouTubers the power to entertain, empower and inspire us, and in return, we can encourage and support YouTubers to challenge themselves to find out what else they’re capable of.