It seems as if the same number of people now spend their Friday nights watching YouTube (and other nights, and sometimes 24/7 — the meth users, for example) as once watched DVDs and VCRs (VCRs going back a way). Stephen King (on YouTube, of course) agreed, “It’s like cocaine.” I have even found myself watching. I want to say “out of necessity” because I have been on my back in recent weeks, but this isn’t necessarily the truth. It is a drug, yes. But, rest assured, this column will not be my personal wailing. Nor about drugs. The hospital administered only so many, and I’m out of ’em. I find that YouTube fills the bill.
What new can be said about YouTube? The internet video channel’s influence is hardly in question. One thing is certain: more people are watching it. There are an astounding number of new hits every time you look up your favorite site. It has long since become a phenomenon; it is rampant, beyond epidemic, and has leaped to something of an oligarchy, an imperium, an unwitting empire of cyber-, or, if you like, etherspace.
From the official online spiel: “YouTube is a video sharing website where users can upload, view and share video clips. Three former PayPal employees created YouTube in February 2005. In November 2006, YouTube, LLC was bought by Google Inc. for US$1.65 billion and is now operated as a subsidiary of Google. The company is based in San Bruno, California, and uses Adobe Flash Video technology to display a wide variety of user-generated video content, including movie clips, TV clips, and music videos, as well as amateur content such as video blogging and short original videos.…
“Unregistered users can watch the videos, while registered users are permitted to upload an unlimited number of videos.… Videos that are considered to contain potentially offensive content are available only to registered users over the age of 18. The uploading of videos containing defamation, pornography, copyright violations, and material encouraging criminal conduct is prohibited by YouTube’s terms of service.”
I know of few people unaware of YouTube, but I am still, er, dumbfounded at the wealth those people miss at this simple URL. Among the deprived, I know of five people who do not use computers at all. I represent the percentage that uses them badly and reluctantly. They increase your correspondence obligations to an untenable degree, for one thing. At least YouTube offers diversionary bursts from the humdrum. For example, The Honeymooners, 1950s precursor to All in the Family. And I believe that show is there as well. Oh, yes, I see it is. And in spades.
Another entry from the official YouTube spiel is, “Most of the content on YouTube has been uploaded by individuals…” in case you’re unfamiliar (you’ve been in a coma for decades) or you are somehow unaware of this phenomenon that to me is among three other pivotal events in the past century and a half: Sigmund Freud, the landing on the lunar surface, and home computers themselves. YouTube has, I believe, nearly outdistanced conventional television (certainly baseball) as the national pastime. Old Dick Cavett shows with Anthony Burgess, Woody Allen, and John Lennon. My son loves Japanese anime sites. You can watch large chunks of The Sopranos. The Godfather, parts I and II (and I suppose III — I never checked). Coen brothers movies — fairly long segments.
Anyway, this may not be news, but it is entertainment. And it is what I find, this week, the deal with which most people are occupying their leisure time. I feel I should give it a nod.