Task: reflect on this documentary in a blog post and make connections with online video practices and the focus of this studio.
I think that this documentary was really interesting and made some pretty prevalent points, and apart form the typical ‘the internet is to be feared’ type conclusion, I agreed with a lot of what it had to say. I think where a lot of people (at least, those in the comment section) found the video ‘disturbing’, there should have been a lot more focus on the idea of empowerment and the capabilities of online networking by people and companies who really understand the platforms they are working with. Although many seemed to take it as such, the documentary – in my mind – isn’t aiming to out big corporations for mind-washing kids, nor is it trying to show kids up as being shallow or brainless when it comes to their involvement with social media. Instead, I think it is simply pointing out a shift in how the younger generation interacts with the media, and how as kids grow up understanding this, established corporations and the like have to adapt to this new landscape if they want to thrive commercially. I think the examples of Tyler Oakley and Ian Somerhalder were great as people using modern media effectively, and although I’m not sure what this says about me, I actually knew of all the YouTubers mentioned, and I used to be a big follower of Ian Somerhalder back in high school through Facebook and Twitter. In fact, I even ran a Twitter page for a short while as a part of a group that supported the non-for-profit foundation he established through online media, and so I have been directly involved in the very trend the documentary explained. This might paint me as naive or susceptible, but I don’t see this as harmful. I became involved in an organisation that aimed to raise awareness of environmental issues, hardly the worst thing in the world! The same goes for Tyler Oakley. When I think of Tyler, I think about an LGBT rights activist, and not just some kid on YouTube manipulating his viewers for likes. Yes, he knows how to play to his audience, but this is something people should be learning from and not condemning as ‘disturbing’ or ‘narcissistic’ because there’s a bigger picture to consider. In terms of how this relates to our studio, online video creators such as Tyler Oakley are able to cross promote through collaborations, sharing viewers with other YouTubers and widening their own audience. Add to this cross-promoting through other sites such as Facebook or Twitter and the potential audience is only going to grow. Not only does this give the creator a bigger and better viewership, but it opens up opportunities for more collaborations, and helps to establish them as personalities which can earn them sponsorships, paid opportunities and invites to media events. If it all goes well, this can earn them enough to support them financially through advertisements and in YouTube’s case, partnerships, eliminating the need for a job outside of social media. This means that for people like Tyler Oakley, online video practice is a career-worthy pursuit, and their use of online media is only going to improve as their lifestyle depends on it. This is what relates to us as students of online media practice, and creators of online video.