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There is no doubt that social networks completely changed the way Internet users communicate and collaborate. With the advent of Web 2.0 and platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and many others, the rules of communication between private persons and between businesses and customers shifted from one-way interactions to a multimodal experience that encompasses a range of aspects. However, YouTube is the social network that went even further than others, regarding changing the way people communicate and share information. Many may ask “How exactly did YouTube do that?” This paper will focus on answering this question by using an array of real-life examples.
First, one of the most ground-breaking ways in which YouTube affected communication was the ability to make the world “smaller” than it is. This Web 2.0 social platform has given its users the power to travel anywhere in the world with a mere click of a mouse (Hague, 2016). For example, a person living in Germany can do a quick search on YouTube, watch a video made by a Canadian vlogger (to be discussed further), and see what the everyday life in Canada is like. Moreover, the extensive selection of documentaries available on YouTube allows anyone to see the nature of the farthest locations of the Earth without the need to leave the comfort of their home. While some people can provide a long list of reasons for why such easy access harms people’s desire to go outside and explore the world, YouTube has become a tool for eliminating any territorial boundaries that exist on the planet. It is amazing how a quick search on YouTube can open new horizons and provide valuable knowledge to a viewer; however, it is important to differentiate between the information that can be truly beneficial and unnecessary noise that only wastes time.
The second way in which YouTube has changed modern communication is related to giving people professional opportunities and providing them with an outlet to create. For example, a record label may discover a talented singer-songwriter through YouTube videos and can offer a recording deal given the potential the performer shows. In such cases, communication between an employer and a prospective singer is simplified since there was no need to arrange auditions or talent shows to find a fit for a company; rather, the singer was discovered through a platform that allowed him or her to share music with the rest of the world, including possible employers. For example, Justin Bieber was first discovered by a music manager after his mother shared videos of her son singing.
Similarly, people engaged in the YouTube community that have more than ten thousand subscribers sometimes receive an opportunity to work with companies as advertisement partners or affiliates. This is especially popular among gamer YouTubers that get to promote new games or with fashion and beauty personalities that get paid to advertise a new beauty product or a fashion item. Overall, the communication and business relationships between a YouTube persona and his or her sponsor are based on the number of subscribers he or she has; otherwise, there is no interest for a sponsor to pay money to an online personality that does not have an impact on a large audience. In this sense, the communication with the audience may be undermined by the desire to earn money, and a person may opt for a dishonest product review to persuade the audience to buy it.
Video logging (also called vlogging) is one of the most popular types of video sharing on social media, and it modified the way modern Internet users communicate and collaborate (Lastufka & Dean, 2008). The concept is similar to blogging; however, vlogging allows users to share their thoughts and experiences through the use of videos. In the context of vlogging, the restrictions associated with the written format (for example, a post on Twitter can’t be longer than 140 characters) are eliminated (Blossom, 2011).
It is important to mention daily vlogging as the most ground-breaking communication tool that diminished the boundaries associated with private life. Many YouTubers film their daily lives and share them through the Internet. Such a method of communication redefined the usual modes of information sharing since viewers now have access to what other people are doing on a daily basis. The popularity of daily vlogging has increased because human nature is prone to curiosity about the affairs of others. Here, the idea of diminishing geographical boundaries works to its best quality. It has become possible because the Internet allows a user of a social media platform to see the daily life of a person living on another continent. Therefore, communication transcends any limits and empowers people to share their mundane lives with viewers around the world.
The sharing of news has also proven to be very popular among the users of YouTube. This Web 2.0 platform allows regular people to share videos they shot on their phone cameras and upload the footage to the website, sometimes even before traditional media outlets report the event (Francq, 2010). Normally, such videos for news sharing are filmed by accidental observers of unusual events, for example, the earthquake and tsunami that occurred in 2011 in Japan. Moreover, a quick search on YouTube can allow a user to see raw and unedited footage of the conflicts in Afghanistan or Syria. Thus, the platform enabled anyone to become an independent news reporter. What is especially beneficial regarding news sharing on YouTube is the fact that traditional media outlets often edit their videos to be aired on television. The full and unedited videos on YouTube can alert the public about the breaking news much quicker and more efficiently than ever before. With an option to embed YouTube videos on other social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, the sharing of news has become an effective communication tool that allows users to see some of the latest events as they unfold.
Education and Transfer of Knowledge
Education has also become much more accessible with the advent of this Web 2.0 platform. With YouTube videos, traditional educational tools, such as books and attending classes, are no longer regarded as the only sources that can help pursue education (Rogers, 2009). There is an array of how-to tutorials, science documentaries, and other instructional videos available through free access on YouTube. Such videos are particularly beneficial since they make the subjects more interesting to the viewers and can capture more attention compared to a book or a lecture. Moreover, people that have profound knowledge on a subject or that possess certain skills acquired an amazing platform to share their knowledge and communicate with learners. Due to the fact that any person can be an educator on YouTube, the pace of education online has gained tremendous momentum, with more and more information being spread on the vastness of the Internet (“Web 2.0 platform: How Youtube has changed the way people communicate and collaborate,” 2013).
Comments and Giving Feedback
The option to leave comments on YouTube videos is what makes the process of communication and collaboration active and occurring in two directions. Beyond the ability of users to communicate with the people that upload their videos to the website, they can also interact with other viewers and discuss the topic of the uploaded video. Despite the fact that such interactions may sometimes lead to arguing, which is a possibility in any situation, comments enable people to share their thoughts and opinions with other individuals that have similar interests (O’Neill, 2010). Anyone with a YouTube account is capable of interaction with thousands or even millions of users located in different places on the planet.
YouTube is the Web 2.0 platform that drastically impacted the way Internet users communicate and collaborate. A quick search on the website can “transfer” a person to the farthest places of the Earth without the need of leaving his or her home. Ranging from music videos to science documentaries or cat videos, YouTube offers users an abundance of video recordings that can enrich one’s knowledge or just lift the mood. Talented people that have a large following are presented with business opportunities to collaborate with large companies and prospective employers to promote a product, providing them with an opportunity to earn money using their talents and passions.
Education and news sharing have also become much easier with the emergence of YouTube. People that possess expertise on a certain subject can share their knowledge with others, while those that witnessed an important event can film a video and upload it unedited for everyone to see what happened. All of the knowledge and news sharing is further facilitated by the comments that people leave on videos, contributing to the massive flow of information on the Internet.
Blossom, J. (2011). Content Nation: Surviving and Thriving as Social Media Changes Our Work, Our Lives, and Our Future. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Francq, P. (2010). Collaborative Search and Communities of Interest: Trends in Knowledge Sharing and Assessment. Hershey, PA: Idea Group Inc.
Hague, J. (2016). How social media has changed the way we communicate. Web.
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Lastufka, A., & Dean, M. (2008). YouTube: An Insider’s Guide to Climbing the Charts. Sebastopol, CA: O’Reilly Media, Inc.
O’Neil, M. (2010). 5 Ways Youtube has changed the world forever. Web.