Why I Love Internet Culture

Monday, November 2, 2015

When I talk to many of my "irl" friends, they never seem to understand this Internet culture I'm obsessed with. How can you live so excitedly online? It's just a place for cat videos and rude trolls....why are you obsessed with it?

Me and Leandra
Me and Hayley
I love this culture so much, especially the YouTube community which I have especially been integrated into. We find some of our best friends through this community. We don't have to lie to each other, we don't have to hide, we can be vulnerable, we can be scared. We can have insecurities, have fears, have questions. We can also be passionate, have wild dreams, be excited about the world. The friends we make online are just as important and real to us as our other friends. They are the friends we truly choose ourselves. They are the friends who understand this whole culture, the one's we can talk to about anything and everything without fear of someone finding out you spilled your secrets. The one's who understand what it's like to have anxiety, or lose a parent, or be depressed. These are the friends who it doesn't matter if you never meet them or see them every day, you love them just the same.

I recently attended "The Amazing Tour is Not On Fire" (Dan Howell might come fight me for all of those capitol letters if I'm being honest), which is a theatrical stage show put on by these two popular internet nerds (cult leaders) called "Dan and Phil". While I was there, I saw girls crying because they finally met their best friend after years, I saw people hugging and laughing, no one was unhappy. There were 3000 people, and everyone had similar interests, everyone understood what it was like to have issues in our lives, everyone wanted to make everyone else feel loved and happy- all because of their shared passion for these two dorks who post silly videos online about their lives. And this isn't the only time I've seen this, every convention, every gathering, every meet up- we see people meeting who have been waiting for this moment (sometimes for years), people who have actively decided they care enough about each other to put in maximum effort to keep their friendship alive despite their distance.

Our culture is so understanding, even for our "celebrities". Troye Sivan is a musical sensation from Australia (listen to Wild you won't regret it), but he started out making videos as well. He shared his passion but he also shared his fears- he put himself out there online and made himself vulnerable. Now, as he tours the globe, not only do I see fans getting excited and being insanely proud of him, I see people tweeting him saying "make sure you eat enough" "make sure you're sleeping" "if you're sick don't preform, we will understand, we want you to be healthy". Our culture takes care of it's own, we are protective just as much as we are passionate.

We encourage each other so much. Want to start your own channel? "Do it! I'll watch you, you'll be so good!" Want to go to uni? "YEAH GO FOR IT, YOU CAN DO IT". Stressed about your home life? "Here is a meme to make you laugh so you can forget for a few minutes". This community is encouraging and uplifting (despite a few bad eggs), and it encourages people to follow their craziest dreams and gives them the moral support to say YOU CAN DO IT!! When I'm stressed and it's 2AM, I know my friend on the other side of the world is awake and wants to talk it out with me. We don't judge. One minute I will be talking about the relative likelihood of an asteroid hitting the Earth and killing us all, and the next minute I'm sending screenshots of the rarest pepe and laughing till I cry. We have no boundaries, and I personally think that's a good thing.

Sure, there are problems in the community, we have loads of issues, but I think our positives are also something to be noted. The positives of being in this community make the problems worth solving, make the issues worth handling. Next time you're confused as to why someone seems so "obsessed with the Internet", remember it's not the Internet we love, it's the person on the other side of the screen.

Here We Go Again

Monday, October 26, 2015

Although it is currently 3AM in the United Kingdom, I feel like I cannot go to sleep without expressing my thoughts on the video I just watched. Before I make commentary on the video, I'm going to link it here, but here is a warning that it is quite difficult to watch.

As someone who has worked in schools for years, this is wrong on so many levels.

Firstly, the issue that we have an adult male cop using extreme force on a young teenage girl who was not hostile or violent. This is another in a long line of police brutality cases that I think shows a
Database of fatal cop shootings in 2015
systematic issue within the police force community. There is obviously something going wrong in your training when these instances keep happening over and over again.

I have already seen people saying "well we don't know what she did, maybe she deserved it". At what point does anyone deserve to be thrown to the ground? She could have said the most terrible things to the cop, the teacher, the other students; that does not mean her fundamental right to be safe on school property should be infringed upon. She clearly had no weapons, no voices were raised, she was calm even if she was defiant. There is a difference between defiance and hostility, and defiance is not grounds for excessive force.

I have no doubt in my mind that the officer will be fired and the school board will say what it needs to say to make the situation better, but firing cops who get caught acting out on camera isn't going to fix the overlying issue of police brutality in the United States. 

Just hours after the video surfaced, it is already a
worldwide trending topic. Many protestors for race
issues use the site for awareness.
On another level, this is also a race issue. Before you start screaming that every time this happens "someone makes it about race" I want you to hear me out. I think the important thing to remember is 
that in the United States we are seeing a higher percentage of these cases surrounding police brutality on people of color. The point is that yes, if this was a white girl it would still be just as important, but the fact that it is yet another person of color in a long line of people of color who have been systematically attacked is just further proving a point that there is a wider issue in the United States concerning race issues that needs to be addressed. I'm not going to seriously delve into issue of race because it is not my place to speak for people of color. I will say that in my opinion, their concerns are completely valid and we should all be more open minded about hearing what they have to say about their experiences and fears living in the United States.

Lastly, and this is an issue that I think is a widely different perspective than most people will have: that officer should not have been in that classroom to begin with. In that situation where the teacher is frustrated and a student is stepping out of line but not violent, the school counselor or psychologist should have been called to talk to her. She was sitting in her desk, no weapons, no violent threat, which is what the officers are on campus to handle specifically. Counselors are trained professionals that already work with many of the "problem" students and are trained to handle students who don't want to conform or follow the rules. Calling an officer who had no prior knowledge of the situation only serves for them to assume it was a violent or hostile situation from the start.

I don't know why the officer was called, but from my experience teachers tend to call the officers when they can't be bothered to deal with a student anymore. In my opinion that is unprofessional and lazy. I understand if a student is being frustrating, but you should have more avenues to use before calling a police officer into the situation. Their purpose at the school is to protect the students from danger, not be your back up behavior management system.

And some people will make the completely valid point- not all schools have counselors and psychologists on site. Many low funded schools wouldn't have the resources, and even if they do have a counselor they may not be adequately trained to deal with these situations. To them I say, this is an education issue just as much as it is a police brutality and race issue. Our schools are seriously underfunded and the students are paying the price here. Professionally speaking, a school is supposed to at the very least have a trained counselor on site at all times. Obviously not all the information has been released regarding the case, but if the option for a more moderate approach before contacting the police officer was not available, that is exemplifying a larger issue within our school systems that needs to be addressed. 

As this is a current new story that will be unfolding with new information over the next few days, I will add additions, opinions, and referendums under this line.

YouTube Red and Other Rantings

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

YouTube has just announced it's new "YouTube Red", which is set to roll out on October 28th, just seven days from now. I must admit, I'm deeply terrified of what this means for content creators and the future of YouTube.

For those of you who don't know, YouTube Red will be a paid subscription service of $9.99 per month, and it includes features such as no advertisements and offline watching. Let me be clear, you do not have to pay for the service to continue enjoying YouTube content. At first it seems like a good deal, right? Especially for someone who watches a lot of YouTube and gets sick of the ads. However, looking past the surface, what does this mean for my favorite content creators? Many content creators use ad revenue from their videos to sustain themselves, YouTube is their job. Sure, many of them do paid sponsorships, but for the most part they also rely heavily on the income they expect from ad revenue on their videos. How does this work for them?

EDIT: I have since been informed of the payment system and will relay that here:

Let’s say I subscribe to YouTube Red, paying $9.99 (I’m going to round to $10 here to make the math simple to understand)

45% goes to YouTube, that’s $4.50
55% goes to content creators, that’s $5.50

Now that money will be split amongst the YouTuber’s determined by what percentage of my total watch time was devoted to them. Let’s say over the course of a month I watch:
Connor Franta: 15 minutes
Danisnotonfire: 15 minutes
Hannah Hart: 10 minutes
Jack Howard: 5 minutes
(and so on but im going to use these numbers)
So I’ve watched a total watch time of 45 minutes. 33% was Connor, 33% is Dan, 22% is Hannah, and 1% is Jack. Under this new system, that means Connor will receive 33% of my payed subscription ($1.80), Dan also receives that much ($1.80), Hannah receives 22% ($1.21), and Jack receives 1% ($.05).
In the old system each content creator was paid equally based on number of views. People were upset with that system because it encouraged click baiting titles. They’ve changed the system, only this time it will encourage longer videos and more uploads that aren’t necessarily relevant or interesting to watch.
Additionally, my reservations about this system is that it will harm small YouTuber’s very much. You’re all worried about the huge famous ones, but trust me, YouTube is looking out for them here and they stand to gain a lot of money off of this system. However, smaller YouTuber’s (like, under a million subs) who are trying to make a name for themselves and make a career out of YouTube will not thrive in this system. This system promotes people who play the “YouTube game”. It promotes fandom culture and the “teenage heart throb” culture.

Going back to my original point about YouTube Red, you may be thinking "okay, whatever, I just won't sign up and then everything will stay the same". Well, they have you covered there. They are also rolling out a new feature called "YouTube Originals". This seems to be YouTube's attempt at copying Netflix by making it's own "original" content. It appears the only way you can view this content is if you are subscribed to YouTube Red. They have announced a slate of YouTube creators and content due to come out on the platform starting next year.

This brings up some more very alarming questions for me:

The announced projects, with more being announced soon.
1. How does YouTube decide whose projects to invest in? In the past, the viewers have always chosen the content they want to see, funded kickstarters for the creators they wanted to see make cool stuff. While it's awesome that YouTube is investing in their creators, how do they decide who gets the

2. Since you can only view these with the paid subscription service, I'm assuming the content creators aren't making money based on views with this system. So they are investing in the creators, but they aren't giving them the revenue they deserve per view after they've made their return on investment? Hardly seems fair to the content creator.

3. I am very skeptical of the content they have slated already. It is predominantly vloggers or "big names" within YouTube. I see almost no short films, art films, short series. It seems most of the content is the "big whigs" doing docu type films or big names doing overly done and cliched projects.

4. The wording and marketing of this entire ordeal is quite terrifying and patronizing. "Original series and movies from your favorite stars". Favorite stars? Is that how we are going to start referring to them? The entire point of YouTube is that we are all nerds with video cameras, we are all the same and all have potential on the platform. YouTube is very obviously trying to brand their largest creators as these "teen heart throbs" and "internet sensations". And while some of the content creators certainly are those things, a lot of YouTube's demographic isn't in the "teenage screaming" category, and it kind of feels like YouTube doesn't care about us anymore.

Headline from YouTube's official announcement

5. It would appear YouTube is only investing in people with huge subscriber counts. What does this mean for smaller YouTubers? Small YouTuber's already have the shitty end of the stick as it is - the algorithm works against them, they are drowning in a sea of other creators, and they don't make enough to make YouTube a full time job so they have outside jobs/responsibilities. It seems YouTube's priority very clearly lies with the big creators, and this new system seems like it will make it even harder for smaller content creators to make the jump into being full time YouTubers.

(I'm going to write a separate blog post about why that is a terrible business move on YouTube's part in a different post so stay tuned)

Overall, this new YouTube Red and YouTube Originals project seems like a terrible idea that is going to lead to the destruction of the YouTube system. We have said for a long time that changes need to be made, but I don't think these are the types of changes any of us were looking for. I'll wait till the platform actually rolls out and then re-evaluate from there, but for now I am skeptical and scared of what this means for the future of YouTube and the YouTube community.

If you want to read YouTube's official announcements, you can visit here or here.

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