What YouTube Says About Our Generation

What YouTube Says About Our Generation

We can learn a lot from high school vlogs.
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Last week I wrote an article that sought to examine YouTube, not as an entertainment platform, but as a revolutionary and powerful tool, capable of documenting and preserving our generation in ways which no generation previously could.

I wrote:

"The ubiquity of cameras has made it so that our images are being captured constantly whether we realize it or not. And with YouTube and the Internet, we are seamlessly being cataloged into a massive and growing database of humanity ... I think of YouTube as a time capsule. Centuries from now, everyone can look back through YouTube and wholly experience our generation: its sights, sounds, issues, and—most importantly—the individual personalities of, not just its Kings and Queens, but its ordinary people."

With this article, and in subsequent articles, I'd like to elaborate on this concept by exploring and showcasing various content on YouTube. In doing so, I hope I can get some people to look at Youtube through a different lens—one that understands it as a historical tool.

In this article, I'd like to share a type of video I've found much of on YouTube: "day in the life of high school" videos. In these videos, someone goes around with a camera and basically shoots, in documentary style, a full day of high school.

Here's one from 1996:

One of the fascinating things about a video like this is that, when we watch it, we tend to see it in the context of the present. I'll watch the video, but instantly my brain seeks out the differences and similarities between high school in 1996 and in 2016 (when I graduated high school).

Through this video, we see, documented in an unbiased fashion, the lives of ordinary people. And through watching these people, we can also extrapolate further information about that generation. We are ALL a product of our times, whether we realize it or not. Everything posted on YouTube lends some kind of window into the present that it was posted in.

For example, at around 17 minutes into the video above, the cameraman begins to hum the Mission Impossible theme, a movie which came out in May of 1996, right about the time this video was shot. It was a big blockbuster hit and was most definitely on the minds of high schoolers like these. While that might not sound too fascinating right now in 2018, it will be a much more fascinating detail to those studying pop culture history 100 years into the future.

Now take a look at a modern "day of high school" video:

Now, imagine you were somebody in 1996 watching this video today. In just 20 years, we can already see tremendous generational differences. In the 1996 video, people were detached when confronted with a camera; it was something strange to them. In 2018, the digital age has taken over completely. In this video, everyone understands that he is "vlogging," a term that didn't exist in 1996.

In fact, everything about this video screams of our generation: the slang, the music, the fast jump cuts, the concept of a "YouTuber," the dress, the technology, Internet culture, how everyone's plugging their Internet identities (Instagram, SoundCloud, etc.)... the list goes on and on. Going from the 1996 day of high school and then jumping to this one really puts my generation into perspective.

This video is much more polished and edited, and its clearly made with the intention to project oneself to an audience, rather than for purely documentary purposes like the video from 1996 was. It brings to light an unforeseen force working all around us: the rise of a new type of global culture, one that, through social media, is growing larger by the day.

But these are just two videos out of over a billion YouTube videos. Estimated, it would take 60,000 years of non-stop watching to watch every video that is on YouTube right now. That is a LOT of content, and ALL of that is focused on the thoughts, concerns, issues, and realities of THIS generation.

We will leave a footprint unlike any other generation in history; I think its important for all of us to understand that.

Cover Image Credit: YouTube

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7 Things You Do If You’re One Of Those 'I Always Order Chicken Tenders' People

It's hard to love food but also hate it at the same time.

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Growing up, my mom would usually have to cook me a separate dinner from my siblings. Why? Because I was ridiculously picky and wouldn't eat the same foods as everyone else. Trust me, it gets old. It's not my fault certain things just taste gross, you learn to live with it.

1. You eat something you hate just to see if you still hate it

I'll take a bite of a burger every once in a while just to reaffirm that it still tastes like dirt. I just have to know. Don't even get me started on vegetables.

2. When trying to explain what you actually like to eat, people give you major side eye

Don't ask me about my eating habits unless you want to get into a long, confusing conversation.

3. Eating at someone else’s house when you were younger was a pain

You hate to tell their parents just how much you hate the food that they gave you. So, you sucked it up and ate it anyway only to come home and whine to your parents.

4. There’s one thing on any menu you always fall back on...even if it’s on the kids menu

Pizza, maybe. Chicken tenders, always.

5. Trying a new food is a very proud moment

It's like, wow! Look at me being all adventurous.

6. When you realize you actually like some new food, that’s an even more amazing moment

Crazy times. This rarely happens.

7. Sometimes it’s the texture, sometimes it’s the flavor, all the time it’s left on your plate

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Believe It Or Not, Small Changes In Your Life Can Bring About A Lot Of Positivity

There is a lot of good possible in this world, why not be a part of it?

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Lately, positivity seems like a scarce resource. There always seems to be a breaking news report of some kind of disaster, attack, or previously unknown issue within some facet of our world. However, with all the negativity going on in the world, I think now is the time to talk about some ways to combat some negativity. Sadly, superheroes and superpowers aren't part of our world, and we can't influence cities or millions of lives directly, as much as we would love to. However, we can all still bring some light and positive energy into this world by changing small things in our life, that both send a message to those negative issues in our world or can help us overcome and change the problems our world is facing.

A personal step I've taken has been difficult, and that's been cutting out fast fashion. The true behind-the-scenes workings of fast fashion are growing more and more prominent within the public sphere, and have made me question what I'm willing to ignore in the name of a good deal. Before, I was glad to shop at stores like Forever 21 for their deals, and their on-trend clothes. However, after learning about their far from ethical methods in order to make and sell their clothes at these low prices, I've found myself less drawn in by their sales and styles and instead opting to shop places with more visible and ethical production practices. I'm aware what I'm doing isn't going to end all of the underpaid labor going into the clothes on the sales racks, but I'm glad I stopped my contribution to that system, however small. As a college kid, it can be difficult to get into ethics when buying clothes or any goods, but I definitely recommend the app/website "Good On You." They not only help you discover the impact brands have on different aspects of our world, but they also have some really helpful posts. One I always go to is buying ethically on a college budget, and there are so many that can help people with different incomes and styles find clothing that is made by brands truly trying to make the fashion industry more visibly ethical.

There's a change I'm currently struggling with myself, but that I've seen so many people make over the new year that I think is really amazing. Working at a coffee shop, we use a lot of paper cups, plastic cups, and plastic straws which only get thrown away after one use. However, I'm lucky to work for a company that encourages people to bring in their own mugs or to reuse cups, offering a discount on drinks if they do so. When it comes to water bottles, I never struggled with this—in fact, my family has plenty of reusable water bottles in case any get lost. However, when it comes to reusable mugs and cups for other drinks, I've struggled a bit more, the straw department more. I'm trying to combat this though, despite how convenient plastic cups and straws are. Again, my singular choice to change this aspect of my day to day is not going to end the harm done on the environment, but I feel that stopping my personal contribution is a really good step I, or anyone, can take.

We can't change every aspect of our life or quit what we've been doing for years, cold turkey. There are people out there who truly love shopping at Forever 21 and stores like it or who don't like the idea of having to remember to wash out and bring a reusable mug, cup, or straw every time they plan on going to their local coffee shop. The ethics of a brand, or the impact of waste on the environment just truly aren't huge deals to some people, and that's okay. Regardless, taking the time to evaluate your beliefs and values, and change small parts of your life that directly come into the conflict with those values can bring a lot of good for yourself while also putting it out there into the world. The classic saying goes, "practice what you preach," and taking steps to really doing so in your everyday life can bring about a world of change. These changes may not end unjust labor, environmental issues, or anything large scale in a day, and they're not always easy for us to implement in our daily lives. Just taking the initiative to do so, however difficult, can bring about an amazing amount of positive energy and happiness into our lives, knowing we have stopped our contributions or our own negative impacts to harmful practices going on in our world.

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