In the presentation of Professor Wesch’s anthropological introduction to YouTube that we watched today, many features and advantages of YouTube were highlighted. What was most interesting to me was how YouTube was considered to be a community to many. The example of that YouTuber who struggled through life because of the death of his baby, and how YouTube offered him a getaway or a form of “therapy”, as he claimed, was astonishing. Also, the story of the guy who returned to his home country with no one to greet him, so he went around town with a “FREE HUGS” poster was amazing. YouTube helped both these people overcome certain difficulties in life by giving them the sense of community they craved. Nevertheless, I was disappointed by the presentation. It was very focused on the positive side of the YouTube community that it rarely talked about the negative part. It was not well-rounded.
What happens when a video goes viral, or when a person becomes part of the YouTube community when its a bit too late?
Amanda Todd was a 15-year-old Canadian girl who was negatively affected by YouTube and many other social networks. Like many of us, Amanda had felt lonely one day, so she decided to go on a chat room and talk to other people. She continuously got compliments on her looks until one guy asked her to send him a picture of her breasts, and without realizing what she was doing, she sent the picture. The same guy appeared later threatened Amanda that he will send the picture to everyone in her school if she doesn’t throw him a “webcam show.” Amanda refused, and the guy sent the picture to people in her school.
The girl couldn’t handle being in that school anymore because of the constant bullying she kept getting so she moved. The guy kept track of her and kept blackmailing her and spreading the picture in her new schools. As time passed, Amanda went through too much ranging from depression and anxiety to too much moving attempting to start fresh to a level that she couldn’t leave the house anymore. She had no friends, she felt alone, hopeless and helpless. So one day, she made the following video and uploaded to YouTube telling her story with the use of flashcards:
The video barely got any feedback, so after 10 days from the date she uploaded the video she thought that there was no more hope for her and took the easy way out by committing suicide. Nevertheless, after her death, the video started spreading. To this date, there are around 7 million views on the original video and more than 22 million views on re-uploads and all of that happened within a month. Amanda has become an internet sensation and an important part of the YouTube community, but it was too late.
I think YouTube is a great example of a virtual community but there are a lot of people who strive for the acceptance of that community and do not receive it. A lot of people go unnoticed because of the large amount of videos out there.