“An Anthropological Introduction To YouTube” Thoughts

Wesch’s video titled “An Anthropological Introduction To YouTube” is a good, but very outdated video. I should clarify that I only watched the first fifteen minutes of his video, but from what was shown, a lot of the good will surrounding YouTube is forever gone.

YouTube was a great website for many reasons, and continues to be good, but it has lost the good will that supported for years. After YouTube was bought by Google, a lot of things changed and now it runs on an agenda rather than on the community. The trending section often does not reflect what is actually trending on YouTube, especially if the video is not advertiser friendly. For that reason alone, I recognize that YouTube is a company, and not a tool for humanity. Censorship and false-copyright-flagging has become a serious issue, to the point I no longer trust the website myself.

In regards to the questions asked by Professor Hildebrandt, I have mixed feelings. The questions are as follows:

  1. Reflect on our changed world and the new culture of participation as described in lecture and by Wesch.
  2. What does this mean for your future classroom?
  3. What does it mean for schools in general?
  4. How might we rethink the idea of schooling and education in our networked, participatory, and digital world?

My answers are as follows:

1. Our world has certainly changed, where at least in North America, it is actually more strange to NOT be on social media than it is to be on it. I am among those affected as I personally hate social media. I didn’t realize this class had a Twitter component, and I am a vehemently against it. Social media is bad for people who suffer from depression or anxiety or any other self-esteem issue. I am not saying that I am one of those people, but I can tell you that I gain no joy from Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or Twitter. The only social media I will participate in willingly is Reddit, and mainly because it is anonymous. I hate having the fear of missing out when using more mainstream (not that Reddit isn’t mainstream) social media platforms. YouTube propagates this fear, that if you are not looking at this website every day, then you may not know what people are talking about tomorrow. I hate it. I hate that I will end up on YouTube without even thinking about it and then waste an hour. However, YouTube IS a great addition to the world, I just don’t like how it has become a corporate feeding ground. I suppose anything successful is doomed to that destiny. I think the culture of participation that it has created is hilarious, but I’ve never been a part of it so I have troubles commenting on it.

2. I hope this lecture means nothing for the future of our classrooms. I do know that many classes use Google Classroom now though, so I guess it has already changed us. However, I do not think this has anything to do with the culture of participation, I just think some teachers appreciate being paperless and being able to access theirs or their student’s work at any time.

3. For schools in general, it means a lot of the beauty and problems that come with the online component. On one hand, it is awesome when a whole school is participating in a viral phenomenon. Everyone gets involved and everyone has fun. On the flip side, cyber-bullying is a serious issue that will not go away as long as the culture of participation exists. Everything good has an equal dark side. I suppose that is only fair, as having all the worlds knowledge at our finger tips basically makes us God’s in comparison to people even 100 years ago.

Now that is an idea I would like to expand upon. THAT is the real change within our classrooms. Where our ancestors (like my parents) would have to go search a library for any fact they did not know, we can find out in less than 30 seconds by Googling it on our smartphones. Imagine going back in time and telling people that a little glass machine can tell me any fact I want to know in seconds. Anything goes. Any fact, no matter how small. They wouldn’t believe you. And if they did, they would think you came from thousands of years in the future. I struggle to comprehend how it will ultimately affect classrooms when people my age are the oldest generation of teachers in schools. We effectively grew up with the internet always being there. How will that change schools in 40-50 years? How about 100 years? That is the stuff I love thinking about.

4. I wouldn’t want my classroom to be participating with the rest of the world. Sure, another classroom of similarly aged students I can get behind, but I wouldn’t want the students sharing about themselves willy-nilly in the classroom. Teenagers have enough to worry about without adding potential online embarrassment to the mix. Perhaps that is a cynical view, but I believe the negatives outweigh the positives in this regard. If students on their own, on their own time, want to participate in a social media like classroom, then by all means let them. But for my classroom, I don’t want to be associated with it at all.

Ending thoughts:

Let me end this by saying that I love technology and I love the internet. I love what the internet has done to the world (the only world I’ve ever known) and I love what the internet can do for individuals. Some of my best memories are playing online games with complete strangers. I remember when I used to play “Habbo Hotel” with a dedicated group of people I met on the internet. I would talk to them and play with them every day of the week for months.

However, I think that social media and the culture of participation, belong at home. Nowhere near the classroom. School? Sure. Classroom? Nope.

Thanks for reading.

  • Garrett J. Bates



One thought on ““An Anthropological Introduction To YouTube” Thoughts

  1. We had a debate two weeks ago about sharing students work online, and the implications that this might have. And after that discussion I was left wondering a lot of different things. I agree with you that I could maybe get behind my class sharing with another class of a similar age, like virtual pen pals but the idea of sharing with the whole world is scary. Especially when we have things that the “Momo Challenge” going around, and people are calling it a hoax but children are still attempting suicide and accrediting it to the challenge. It’s scary that we can’t do anything to stop these things, we can teach our students about online safety and digital citizenship but we can’t stop them from finding it when they all have their own technology.

    Very great read, and some very thought provoking statements!


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