2017-03-16 / Viewpoint

The VIEW from here

The perils of YouTube

Nicholas Pugliese—Staff Writer Nicholas Pugliese—Staff Writer YouTube is often the lawless Wild West of video mediums. Movies and TV feature ratings systems with which most parents are familiar, and YouTube has guidelines uploaders have to agree upon in order to have their videos available on the site, but beyond obviously unallowable content, YouTubers are by-and-large allowed to put anything they want into the ether for anyone in the world to experience.

For older generations, the idea of consuming the majority of one’s entertainment via YouTube is likely bizarre, especially when it comes to the “Let’s Play” genre of videos, which are exactly what you think it is — videos where people record themselves playing a game while talking. That’s it.

One might ask, “Who watches random people play games and ramble nonsense?” It turns out, a lot of people do, with successful YouTubers enjoying millions of views for each video they upload, and a significant portion of those viewers are preteens. YouTubers that record themselves playing games like Minecraft are especially popular with young people — kids enjoy playing a game, search for content related to that game, and see people seemingly just like them, playing the same games and having fun.

The problem is that YouTube rarely polices content creators for what they say during these videos, and if the viewership is primarily the very young, they’re often influenced, as young kids are, by what they’re hearing said by whom they admire.

When I was young (which I admit wasn’t that long ago), the villain was South Park, but I’d like to think it was easy even as a kid to tell the difference between South Park’s shocking brand of humor and what’s really divisive. It’s not so easy now though. Often YouTube harbors troubling opinions and ideas that today’s youth might not be so adept at resisting. This brings me to JonTron. JonTron, or Jon Jafari, is a very popular YouTuber, who earns millions of views per upload and has been an influential member of the YouTube community for years. JonTron has been on the forefront of an alarming trend among prominent

YouTubers espousing and disseminating disturbing opinions through their channels. Which, on one hand, is fine — they’re allowed to say and think whatever they want within the parameters of their rights.

But on the other hand, the majority of their viewers are under socialized preteens that are incapable of thinking critically about what they’re hearing and just end up parroting the YouTuber’s views without thinking about the ramifications.

JonTron is currently on the hot seat for controversial opinions he posted on Twitter which he then tried to defend in a debate with another YouTuber. His views were steeped in factual and historical inaccuracies that most astute viewers can easily dismiss — but what about his fanbase? The young and impressionable, who don’t have the ability to see him for what he is: a person who revels in controversy, simply fanning the flames of public outrage for the sake of what we can only assume is personal amusement?

These are the people who take his opinions to heart, and that’s a serious problem. What he was talking about in the debate video (that can be easily found simply by Googling “debating JonTron”) is not a viewpoint, it’s nonsense. We as adults can see that pretty clearly. But can kids?

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