NOTES: Origins and Context | See Also
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Origins of this content
Written for LFYT 2015 final by Nicole Rufus.
"Most people did not usually talk about their concerns to an audience larger than one, in a voice louder than a whisper--how did their publicly-minded ideas evaporate out of public circulation? Listening to citizens conversing about politics in everyday life can reveal how some cultivate concern for the wider world, and how so many manage to convince themselves and each other not to care." (pg.8)
--"Avoiding Politics: How Americans Produce Apathy in Everyday Life" by Nina Eliasoph
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More videos related to the content of this page
The Revolution Will Not be on YouTube by Nicole Rufus

As we learned early on in this course, having 70,000 views, like the Black Ice video above, is chump change in the YouTube world. Isn't this the sort of video that should have millions and millions of views?

I signed up for Learning From YouTube because one of the questions asked in the course description particularly intrigued me: Why is the technology being used primarily to spoof mainstream media forms and what does this tell us about the media, our society and political possibility?

I respect that storytelling is crucial, especially in times like these when the voices of the most marginalized citizens, both here at home and abroad, are actively silenced. I respect that YouTube gives people a platform to tell those stories either as a person from a marginalized community or as someone who is in solidarity with a community (if you have access to the necessary technology). However, as our class has discovered this semester, that does not constitute any significant sphere of the YouTube world. Instead, as the question above demonstrates, what does make up a significant part of the YouTube world are funny videos, make up tutorials, corporate videos, etc.

So, what does technology being used primarily to spoof mainstream media forms tell us about media, our society, and political possibility? In my opinion, it tells us that we as global citizens have neglected our responsibilities and obligations to our fellow humans. To be clear, I don't think that YouTube is by any means the only representation of this neglect in our society, but since it is the subject of this class and of this book it is my matter of concern.

Funny videos are good and they make us laugh, and I don't think we should eliminate them, but I think the majority of the media and images we consume and produce should have some social and political components because we are living in a time of incredible suffering. There is state-sanctioned genocide. There is famine. There is warfare. And the vast, vast majority of the videos that we consume are not asking us to think about those things at all. In fact, these videos that we watch for hours and hours on YouTube are giving us a way not to think about these things.

The revolution will not be on YouTube because our society hasn't acknowledged the need for revolution. There are small fractions working toward this goal, but their sound is muffled out by the mainstream. We haven't been truly moved by the suffering of others, both here at home and abroad, and it shows when one takes a look into microcosms of our society like YouTube, where, for the most part, what's popular is not what's political.

Again, this is not to say that we shouldn't indulge in light-heartedness--in fact in order to survive I believe it is necessary to--but more so to ask how much of our media making and consuming should be solely the fun and light-hearted? This is a question I believe we need to really ask ourselves. We even have the opportunity to combine the two. The silly and the serious. But regardless, we have to do more.

Learning From YouTube was much more than a class just about YouTube for me. I reflected on much larger ideas about our world and our society, and YouTube was merely just the vessel.