Hello! Nice to meet you, I’m Tom and I’m here to talk to you about my long time love of YouTube as a 25 year old.
I’ve been watching YouTube ever since I was about 14 years old. Throughout that time, my viewing habits have changed a lot - mainly as my interests have changed - and I’ve found new ways to waste away the time. I mean, seriously, I probably watch 2-3 hours of YouTube a day, and that over ten years is roughly a year's worth of viewing time...
YouTube has taken a year of my life… A YEAR.
And with over 1 billion hours on average of YouTube videos being watched a day, (more than Netflix and Facebook video combined), it’s no wonder that so many, like me, are selling their souls to YouTube content (and I only make up half of that…).
So, when do I watch YouTube? I normally watch at work on my phone during lunch, making my ham and cheese baguette slightly more exciting. I mean, the garlic Nandos sauce helps too, but who doesn't enjoy watching highly skilled chefs make a 6 patty cheeseburger as they simultaneously drink copious amounts of Hennessy? For me, it’s the easiest way to consume and engage with YouTube. With reports saying more than half of views are coming from mobile devices, the proof is there. I also watch it when I get into bed as a way of just switching off (no, the irony there is not lost on me…). There’s honestly nothing more relaxing than falling asleep to the sound of Shane Dawson screaming about how cute he finds pigs.
My viewing preferences are predominantly: cooking, new music, drag racing (RuPaul’s, of course. Cars suck), news, and technology. I guess most of that is related to my hobbies. I love cooking and learning new skills. I love finding new music, I love men dressed as women, and being up to date on tech and news - most of which I watch at work.
But every now and then, I look at the clock... it’s 2 am. I realise I’ve spent the last 4 hours tumbling down a video rabbit-hole, watching things like ‘Top 10 Scariest Places in Venezuela’ (I didn’t sleep that night) and ‘How Plungers Are Made’ - which I actually found quite interesting tbh... I NEED TO KNOW, okay?
I wonder, why? Why do I watch this stuff? Unlike others who read a book, listen to a podcast or music, watching content I don’t necessarily have to think about helps me to switch my brain off somehow.
Compared to when I was in my late teens, my viewing habits have changed a lot. Mainly because the world of YouTube has changed too. Gone are the days of genuinely creative comedy and insightful videos. YouTube is now stuck in a bit of a carousel of copycats, where everyone just does what everyone else does - aka slime making, challenges, pranks. I just got sick of watching the same thing on every person's channel.
My favourite YouTuber was always Shane Dawson when I was younger. He made tons of intelligent comedy videos, with narrative, clever comedy and so much more, but he fell victim to the carousel of copycats.
One of the platform’s longest-serving creators and community ‘sweetheart’, had to reinvent himself. He was making the same old challenge videos, product reviews, slime creations and pretty much just uncreative content. It was all throwaway, and as a result, he wasn’t making much money from YouTube anymore; with a lack of sponsors and with Adsense not making money like it used to.
He had to do it, had to reinvent himself and start again. And he did it. In a big way. To the point where he made the biggest impact on YouTube content since Casey Neistat made vlogging the in-thing. He began creating documentaries within the YouTube vast universe - not about stuff like ‘Why do cats have big paws?’, but the real and raw truth and explanations behind some of YouTube’s biggest stories - starting with TanaCon - a 3-part series in which he delved into why TanaCon messed up so badly (if you don’t know about TanaCon, basically a YouTuber named Tana Mongeau created a rival to VidCon, but it went REALLY BAD and everyone was furious. Go and get yourself into your own internet rabbit-hole looking into that one), and this was the first instance where people were desperate for the next part of the series, each video gathering between 14-17 MILLION views each!
No one has ever really managed to create long-form content within YouTube like Shane has. People are waiting eagerly on every new series he puts out, but he does it in an unbiased and real way, and people like that. People are tired of these fake YouTubers who project an unrealistic life. The Shane videos are raw and that’s what people need right now.
He’s also done a 5 part series on Jeffree Star which got around 15-21 MILLION views per video, as well as a new ongoing series on Jake Paul with viewing figures just as high. The goalposts for content have moved again, and it won’t stop. It’s like a living, breathing thing and content-creators need to realise that their audiences won’t stay engaged with the same old content for long.
Other YouTubers are already starting to copy this trend of more raw and honest content, and it feels like the next big shift in the way people will view content on YouTube for many, many years to come.
For me, I hope YouTube continues in this fashion. I want more insightful and engaging content, and if this is a sign of what’s to come - I can’t wait to sign away an extra few years of my life over to YouTube.
Thanks for reading hun!