YouTube. I want to like you. I think I like you.
I do like YouTube. But I have reoccurring pangs of disappointment about it.
I’ve always had this vision, of a YouTube community that I could be part of. I’d watch your videos, you’d watch mine, we’d comment, we’d make video replies. We’d talk about what makes a good video and how to make ours better. If later we found ourselves in the same city, maybe we’d meet up. We’d do a video together. And we wouldn’t be too self aggrandizing. Mostly we’d have fun. I’d enjoy having that little window into your life and how you see the world. We’d share information, little tips on things, maybe expose each other to games we haven’t played that otherwise we wouldn’t have given a chance, maybe we’d show each other places we wouldn’t otherwise know where to go.
I think I have this vision, because very briefly, I experienced it. I’ve told the story a few times on the internet, so I don’t want to give the full version again, but once, while participating in a contest, I had this experience of meeting people through their videos, and having conversations through them, knowing no one was too proud or too good to watch anybody else’s videos. I still keep up with some of them, but I’m (as far as I know) the only one who still dabbles in YouTube. Since then, I’ve never been really able to find a connection to people in both the producer and consumer sense on YouTube. I can get views, maybe not a ton, but enough to feel like creating something was worthwhile, and some interaction on my videos. And I can find videos that I enjoy watching, and sometimes I get a polite thank you if I comment. But that’s about the extent. I envision conversations and connections through creation and consumption, but can’t find the full cycle.
I am not sure if its me, or the sea of things that is YouTube. It could just be another time when the awkwardness is me. But I can’t help getting the feeling that its a caste society. It seems like the creators have their eyes fixed upwards. People who are more advanced than me don’t seem to have time or interest in interacting beyond being gracious stars. People who are near “my level” only seem interested in their own rises. Of the few people who do interact consistently with me, most do not create content themselves, so its not as connected feeling as interacting both ways. I am pretty sure that I am doing some things wrong – I haven’t been able to find a stride in making videos over the course of my last few changes in situation. I don’t post consistently, my style and subject matter can be all over the place. I’m probably not looking for the content I want to see in quite the right places. But there are also some functionality limits that seem to contribute to the difficulty of connecting. Comment notifications are a fickle thing, the setting sometimes for emails seems to change without me having set it, and its just flat out hard to find the new comments space on the interface. Its also hard to find videos on popular subjects that aren’t from the most poplar creators. I prefer a bit of a less produced/polished style of video, but search results lead with content from the very established. For gaming related content, its extremely hard to find what I’m looking for, as I don’t enjoy the “personality set to loud” style that’s popular in gaming videos. I still find entertainment and information in this sea, just at a high time cost, and a high rate of starting videos and clicking away from them.
Do you feel like community exists on YouTube? Is it even something that people desire from that site? Is it just that there is a culture that I’m failing to be a part of? Have you ever had high hopes for an internet space as interaction and were disappointed?
(I rarely share a video that isn’t my own, but it was the vlog below, from BriBry that got me thinking about my latent wishful thinking towards YouTube. I like to give credit for inspiration, so here it is… )