When former Paypal employees Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim created YouTube in 2005, they couldn’t have possibly known the video powerhouse that YouTube would become. Today, YouTube has mounted to a huge societal component of how we communicate through video and share our voices around the world.
- The Opportunity for Education
Anyone with access to the internet and a WiFi connection can gain an excellent education through YouTube. Take Khan Academy, for example—it is a non-profit organization created by Harvard genius Salmon Khan who uses YouTube to host his videos. Currently, Khan Academy has over 100,000 practice problems and 6,000 micro lectures on 15 different core educational subjects. Personally, I have watched his videos to brush up on calculus before a midterm exam. In a world where college means debt and poor families are scraping up money to pay for food, free access to an education is a huge game changer. Search by grade level or check out their mission statement here.
- The Ideal Platform for the Talented and Gifted
Millions of people have hidden talents that are often hidden behind closed doors. Some may be too shy about their skills, or some may find themselves unlucky when it comes to spreading the word. YouTube, however, is one of those door-openers. From dancers to comedians, people all over the world are being discovered by the viral power of YouTube. One recent video shows off 11-year-old Taylor Hatala dancing to Nicki Minaj’s song Anaconda; the video, posted 3 weeks ago, has over 9.2 million views and landed her a spot on the Ellen Degeneres show.Check out her ferocious dance routine:
The power of YouTube has enabled billions of talented people to be heard, found, and of course, shared.
- Video Pop Culture
Instead of discussing the most current box office hit around the dinner table, people are discussing the latest viral video. One classic example shows an elephant painting an image of, well, an elephant; and it was a very well-done painting, I must admit.
Or, did you see Jennifer Lopez’s new video? She challenges the concept that our bodies change as we get older:
My point is that YouTube has become the backdrop platform for pop culture and entertainment. Just like the permanent toothpaste mark on your favorite shirt, famous YouTube videos encircle our lives—whether we want them to or not. (if you haven’t seen the video “What Does the Fox Say”, consider yourself lucky):
- The Ability to See Through Each Other’s Eyes
As a video sharing platform, YouTube has allowed us to see the world through each other’s eyes. Ever wondered what it’s like to hike Angel’s Landing at Zion National Park in Utah? Someone did it:
Have you ever wanted to tour the Taj Mahal in Agra, India? Without getting a passport, you can experience one man’s tour here:
YouTube enables us to travel anywhere in the world or experience a moment in someone else’s life at the click of a mouse.
- Relive History
Viral videos spread quicker than dry brush catches on fire, and the world has been using YouTube to share videos of the past instantly. For example, videos that arose after September 11, 2001 will remain in our hearts forever. One that still remains infamous to this day is the audio file of a man named Kevin Cosgrove who called 9-1-1 from within one of the towers after the plane struck the building:
Videos like this cause us to relive moments as if they are happening right now, again. This is a powerful tool that causes us to never forget the past.
- Platform for Change
YouTube leads people to tell stories, and these stories are shared; this brings an unbelievable power to people’s opinions and, mostly, the truth. For example, Invisible Children launched the Kony 2012 campaign to arrest the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and Ugandan criminal, Joseph Kony. To this day, the 30-minute campaign video has over 99 million views:
The video surged with controversy over apparently false facts about the LRA and the Ugandan government’s opinion of the video. Regardless of the controversy, however, Kony 2012 showed the world’s desire for international justice. YouTube enabled this campaign to spread throughout the world in a matter of days.
Leading the Future
Most importantly, YouTube has allowed the world to become smaller. We can view videos that are created throughout the world and we can watch other’s experiences in real time. This allows us to do something important; to come together and lead each other. Today, communication has reached another level on YouTube through video-visual communicating. Whether people use YouTube to watch how to tie a tie (again) or tour one of the Seven Wonders of the World, we use YouTube to learn, and grow, together.