YouTube has come a long way from what it once was in 2005. Founded by Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim, it was a small startup with only a few videos from random people who were just playing around with the interface. The idea on which YouTube began was also far from what the website is now today. According to Karim on a USA Today article from 2006, he “recalled the difficulty involved in finding and watching videos online of [Janet] Jackson accidentally baring her breast during the Super Bowl show.” Thus, that’s what YouTube first started out as – a website for the public to find short, funny and random videos for quick entertainment.
The few, such as NigaHiga, Shane Dawson and a handful of others, who did continuously share their amateur, low-quality films are now some of YouTube’s biggest celebrities. Some of these creators are also in Hollywood’s B-list of actors. They’ve had a big influence on what YouTube is today and have built their entire lives through the website.
These creators became popular not just for their silly five-minute videos, but because of how relatable they were.
They weren’t making millions from a video, at least not yet, and they weren’t wearing huge sunglasses to hide from the paparazzi. They were just regular people broadcasting themselves.
However, recently, content creators have now placed more focus on attaining higher viewership and sponsorship rather than the quality of their content. These new YouTubers are starting out with high quality videos and colorful backdrops, but with lackluster content. Some of these creators like to exaggerate their personal experiences to make themselves feel special from other YouTubers who share the exact same story without the unnecessary flair. After three minutes of learning nothing, they directly move on to thank all their sponsors for their new water bottle or phone case, in hopes of their fans to purchase similar items. It’s fine that for some of these creators YouTube is their main source of income. It’s understandable that they need to make money somehow. It’s unacceptable, however, that they push these videos out with poor content just so their fans can see the cool new sponsors pouring money into their picturesque Californian homes.
It shows that they care more about profiting for themselves rather than sharing thoughtful experiences and ideas to their viewers.
Having these beautiful videos made by gorgeous people also take away another key aspect of YouTube was first meant to be. From 2005 – 2012, the motto of the company was “broadcast yourself.” Anyone who had access to a camera and internet could simply press upload and find their video in the world-wide web. Now, YouTube has become a business for these creators. They need to make themselves flashier and prettier to attract viewers. So, the production quality of their videos has significantly improved, while their actual video content has fallen behind. This causes problems for other YouTubers who are just starting out. These creators are newer to the scene and have great ideas, but lack the $2,000 DSLRs to produce it. Some work with what they have and produce amazing videos, but they don’t get the proper attention that they should.
The high-end, popular YouTubers have monopolized the attention from viewers and even the company itself, leaving barely anything for new creators. It forces newer YouTubers to either become unseen or abandon the integrity that they started with to become one of those mindless, aesthetic-focused content creators.
Just look at Anna Akana. She had great stories and lessons to tell, and she explicitly once said that she disliked sponsorships. Now, after every video, she must profess how amazing it is to listen to books through Audbile.com instead of reading them.
Now, there are still creators who do well focusing on both the production and content quality of their videos. They also probably do well financially with all the sponsors and subscribers. For example, You Suck at Cooking makes fantastic, hilarious videos about cooking all kinds of food. Although there are YouTubers who make amazing content, YouTube’s “Recommended Videos” take the attention away from them. YouTube has gradually become like Hollywood – there are great movies out there, but only the ones that have well-known actors bring in more viewers and money, leaving thoughtful and important voices unheard