I recently watched a speech called The Machine is (Changing) Us and found it quite thought provoking. The speech starts out with the idea proposed by Neil Postman that we have “amused ourselves to death” it is a phrase that I feel is thrown around a lot, but is particularly relevant. We live in an age where Presidential Campaigns are not commonly thought of so much as a chance to select a leader we think will lead our country into a better future, but instead as a chance for some great new political humor.
The speech talked about the YouTube community and how so many people on YouTube use it to connect to the world around them. I think this is especially true of a YouTube community that calls themselves Nerdfightaria. Nerdfighteria was started by two brothers named Hank and John Green who decided to make YouTube vlogs regularly for all of 2007. They gathered a following that just keeps growing and Nerdfighteria stemed from there. Their channel, Vlogbrothers, is the one of the most subscribed of all time and the community now includes several ventures including a record company for YouTube artists (DFTBA records), a convention (VidCon), and something called the Project 4 Awesome (P4A) in which on one particular day each December all members of this community post a video promoting their favorite charity and then rate, comment, and post on other P4A videos in an attempt to take over YouTube for a day. The idea is to help people and to make a point that there are more important things than kittens or cute kids, that our world has serious problems and many people in need. The idea of the Project 4 Awesome is to combat the fact that we are amusing ourselves to death. Nerdfighteria is more than a group of people with people, ideas, and interests in common. It is a group of people who have refurbished schools, brought medicine to small towns who couldn’t afford it, built wells in Haiti, and helped with causes across the country and across the world mainly through the power of the YouTube.
YouTube, and video in general, play a big part in my life now, but this is a rather recent development. I got a late start with technology. At least it seems that way to me. There always seems to be someone around who knows more about it than do. I wish sometimes I hadn’t gotten a late start but, ah well. I wasn’t interested. I was perfectly content to stick to my books for a large portion of my life. Technology didn’t strike my interest until 2003 in the form of a brand-new Dell Laptop. It was my father’s. I remember the day it came in the mail and we opened it together in the family room. I had never seen anything quite like it. Suddenly, computers were interesting. It was 2003 and I was in sixth grade.
Before that laptop, I rarely watched television, got on the computer to type a “paper” (very slowly) or play Oregon Trail every once in a while, and sometimes listened to a few CDs. My life was books. After that laptop, I started paying a little bit more attention to computers, signed up for an email address and [through a school requirement] got a laptop in 2004, and started learning some of the basic technological jargon. An interest in computer animation followed and in 2006 I started posting videos to YouTube. Now? Now I’m an unrepentant tech geek. I still don’t know much the vocabulary, how to code, or exactly how a computer works, but I want to and I’ll keep learning. Now, I’m on the internet multiple times an hour, stay connected when I leave my laptop behind through my phone, and read Videomaker magazine. Now, I actively seek out information on the newest gizmos and don’t always pick up a book in my free time. I do still love to read, but sometimes I’ll turn to a video camera or the television for entertainment. Before that shiny blue Dell laptop I wanted to be a painter when I grew up. Now, I want to work with mass media, I want to work in television.