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The Cultural Phenomenon of YouTube Paper

Opportunity for self promotion and can begin their

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Unformatted text preview: ommunity (Burgess 24). Many individuals are rightfully embarrassed by the plethora of irresponsible and amateur content on YouTube. Lev Grossman expressed his grievances in a December issue of Time Magazine. “Some of the comments on YouTube make you weep for the future of humanity just for the spelling alone, never mind the obscenity and the naked hatred” (Wesch). Since the invention of the Internet, our society has inevitably become more self-centered and this is highlighted by YouTube and its most popular videos and channels. YouTube can be used for the display of mediocre talents and ideas, but it can also be used as a tool for communication, entertainment, and even a source of income. Critics of YouTube are experiencing a “moral panic” in regards to participatory culture, because they believe that the youth is threatening traditional methods of media and social interaction (Burgess 18). Jean Burgess and Joshua Green, authors of YouTube: Digital Media and Society Series, provide reasoning for critics’ moral struggles with the youth’s relationship with the website. Young people are both agents and victims- responsible for the majority of YouTube’s mundane content (teen-age hijinks and bedroom lip synching), much of its glorified hooliganism (car surfing, happy-slapping, public vandalism, and school-yard brawls), and at risk from exposure to footage of Hitler’s speeches, racist propaganda, gruesome autopsies, dismemberment footage, and videos of mortar attacks in Baghdad. (Burgess 19) These videos may be evaluated as average or mundane, but they symbolize a significant cultural gain. YouTube provides the opportunity to upload almost any genre of content, Gibbons 9 whether intended for a large audience, or a single person. Youths, especially during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, are disconnected from the aging population. This current moral panic is reflective of other time periods that experienced technological advancements. During the nineteenth century, the pauper press unnerved people and, in the twentieth century, the hand held camera caused moral anxiety (Burgess 20). Many people value stability and, when a new development is introduced, that development disrupts their own perceived order. While some believe that many videos are mundane, it is difficult to argue against their cultural significance. What was once a simple database of videos has become an important element in global culture. Many can argue that YouTube is a destructive force because it encourages anonymity, and often times, fosters negative attitudes as seen in thousands of videos and comments. YouTube, however, serves many functions and can be a tool for positive change. Michael Wesch, an anthropology professor at Kansas Stat...
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