Social Media

The Future of YouTube

Vloggers, beauty gurus, and quirky teenagers, oh my!

In a world where it has become second nature to snap a picture of what you had to eat for lunch and vlog your day to day activities such as makeup routines and a day out with friends, what exactly are we looking at in terms of the future of YouTube?

The wide-reaching video sharing platform was created in 2005 and started off as a website for music videos, makeup tutorials and comedy skits alike. From creators such as Shane Dawson who kicked off his successful career with humorous skits to Bethany Mota who became an idol for people everywhere thanks to her kind personality that showcased through clothing hauls and monthly favorites, YouTube has without a doubt seen its days of prodigious creators. Though the list goes on and on, a few more of the original creators include Grace Helbig, Tyler Oakley, Michelle Phan, and Zoe Sugg. While the majority of these original YouTube creators do still create daily content and successfully manage to maintain their ever-growing platforms, there has surely been a shift in the trend of today’s influencers on YouTube.

Presently, YouTube is experiencing what one may coin as the takeover of “quirky, relatable teenagers.” And, while there are certainly countless other channels spanning YouTube that do not follow this trend, there’s a large number that do. There are over a thousand users who post videos daily (a job for many), regardless of whether or not their channels consist of large followings. Today, teenagers are picking up a camera and choosing to do the simplest of tasks: turn it on.

Whether it be family vacations, driving for the first time, chopping off their hair, the retelling of an outrageous story or simply sitting down to chat with a camera while they do their makeup — you name it and this generation of creators are filming it to later post on their YouTube channels. This includes the good and the bad. It can even be inferred that viewers across the world enjoy the uglier sides of their favorite creators lives a bit more for the sole reason and fact that they (the creators) come across as being more “authentic” and down to earth, therefore, relatable.

There are numerous channels that follow this trend, the most notable YouTubers at present including Ava Jules, Hannah Meloche, Summer McKeen, and Emma Chamberlain, the latter who is often credited for the takeover of the common “quirky” persona that many online have recently adopted. Chamberlain’s channel grew rapidly during the span of a year after posting numerous videos documenting her daily adventures to the coffee shop, preparing for photo shoots and more.

As more and more people — children, teens, and adults — take to YouTube where they can indulge in the lives of their favorite influencers, views and subscriber counts continue to grow — as does bad behavior. The aforementioned creators (among many more) have been rewarded with several different incentives including Coachella and an all paid expenses trip to Fiji, all put together by a company by the name of Dote. The company, however, has recently been under fire after the way they treated several girls of color on their recent trip to Coachella was exposed by various channels on YouTube.

Their lack of diversity, in general, was also called out by many. And though the brand has since been scrambling to make up for their wrongs, their mistake acts as a reminder to every creator on YouTube that their viewers are made up of people who come from different races and are all various shapes and sizes. Another downside that can only be learned online is known as “cancel culture,” a phenomenon that was emphasized during the James Charles and Tati Westbrook scandal. Cancel culture, which may be defined as the “canceling” of someone once their mistakes and bad behavior has been brought to light, has recently done more harm than simply acting as a “just punishment.” Cancel culture can lead to bullying and harassment which was confirmed by James Charles who claimed that the hate comments he received “messed him up” and therefore, cancel culture should cease to exist.  It is crucial that creators online use their platform for good and aim to act as a positive influence for the people who watch their videos.

While countless creators continue to join today’s platform, there are many creators from YouTube’s past whose channels have undergone drastic changes in order to adapt to the change of today’s style. The teens today who adopt the aforementioned “quirky” style of their favorite influencers all seem to share similar qualities and tastes, one of those being an interest in the most bizarre conspiracy theories. Shane Dawson, for example, has taken to creating “docu-series,” forty minute long videos in which he investigates trending YouTube topics as well as conspiracy theories, both of which are extremely popular among viewers. Like the quirky influencers spanning YouTube, these creators come across as being relatable, as does Dawson’s docu-series considering they are filmed real time and based on revealing several truths. 

YouTube has become a common platform, one that many have compared to acting as a sort of streaming service due to the TV/movie-like productions often created and uploaded to the site. Several viewers have taken to Twitter to share their movie-like setups in preparation to watch a Shane Dawson docu-series.

With full-time movies premiering on the streaming platform, it isn’t uncommon for viewers to treat regular, everyday uploads as being the same. With a world of streaming at our fingertips, it is hard to deny Youtube’s obvious, rapid growth amongst teens and young adults.

Now, there’s the question to be asked: Where does this leave us? Or, where does it leave YouTube? In a world where everyone is accustomed to filming their life for the enjoyment of others, who decides when enough is enough and we’ve moved onto the next platform? Or better yet, who initiates the next phase, the next trend?

Well, I guess that’s a question that will just have to wait for the next generation of successful influencers.

Featured Image via Emma Chamberlain’s Instagram

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