YouTube is known for its cat videos and viral videos, but there are many sides to the website, including some you may never visit or know exist.
Of course, there are good and bad factors about YouTube, and everyone knows them -- even if they don’t directly acknowledge it.
However, I feel watching YouTubers doesn’t make too much sense to anyone who doesn’t. In fact, someone in one of my classes asked why some people become so fascinated with strangers' lives.
Of course, the answer isn’t simple and changes for each person. But, you do get a glimpse of someone’s life that is more interesting than your own, and as you learn more about someone through his or her videos, you feel like you know and care for him or her as you would a character in a book.
I watch YouTubers for some of the same reasons I consume content on other mediums: It makes me happy; I can escape my problems for a while, and I just love it so much. And, when you're in love, you love for the positives, in spite of all the negatives.
Here are the pros and cons of being YouTube-obsessed:
There is new content all the time.
You are never short of content on YouTube. Some YouTubers follow an upload schedule.
It may not be as precise as television, where you can rely on a start and end time, but you get a day where you can be sure new content will be up.
For the Vlogbrothers channel, John Green uploads on Tuesday and Hank Green on Friday.
There are exceptions, like "Good Mythical Morning," which is up every weekday at 6 am during its season.
You never really know what it will be about, how long it will run or when it’s coming. It can be annoying, but I find that it’s part of the fun.
Plus, it’s more exciting when you find out a new video has been uploaded you didn't expect it at that time.
Videos don’t have to be watched in sequential order.
Unlike a show or movie, you don’t have to start from the beginning.
This makes it easier to decide whether you like watching it. There isn’t a question of whether it will get better with time because you can find out without any spoilers.
It’s possible there will be references to previous videos, but it usually isn't tough to figure it out and doesn’t impact the understanding of the video.
You remember you’re not alone.
Because of the YouTuber and community of people who also watch this person, you realize you’re not alone in your problems or experiences.
Although many of the YouTubers I watch don’t often delve deeply into topics, they do discuss serious topics, including anxiety, bullying and sexuality.
As an introvert, when I learned Grace Helbig, known as "It’s Grace" on YouTube, is also an introvert and proudly proclaims it, I felt relieved.
For a long time, I saw it as a negative thing, but hearing her discuss it showed me otherwise. It simply means that being in social situations tires me out rather than energizes me. And, that’s not bad, just different.
Videos can be educational.
Chances are, there’s probably a video about something you want to learn or a YouTuber will upload a video about something you never knew you needed to learn.
There are also a bunch of channels dedicated to educational content that helps you understand various topics, including "CrashCourse," "SciSchow" and "CGP Grey."
One of my personal favorites, which is simply interesting and full of random facts, is "Mental Floss."
When some of your favorite YouTubers come together and make a video, it’s one of the greatest things ever. It’s like when two actors you love come together or singers do an amazing duet.
Sometimes, collabs happen because YouTubers live together, like Dan Howell and Phil Lester (DanIsNotOnFire and AmazingPhil) or they’re just best friends like Grace, Hannah Hart and Mamrie Hart (It’sGrace, MyHarto and YouDeserveADrink), but it’s still special when they come together.
These turn out to be some of best videos and some of my personal favorites because anything could happen.
YouTubers are now branching out to different mediums.
As the more traditional mediums have begun to recognize the success of these “web celebrities,” they have been able to break into different areas of the industry.
YouTubers are being interviewed on talk shows and making cameos in movies (like Dan and Phil in “Big Hero 6” and Caspar Lee and Joe Sugg in “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water”).
They’ve also written novels (“Girl Online” by Zoe Sugg), self-help books (“All I Know Now” by Carrie Hope Fletcher) and autobiographies (“A Work in Progress” by Connor Franta).
Some have their own podcasts, where they interview other YouTubers and celebrities on current events in pop culture, like “Pyschobabble” with Tyler Oakley and Korey Kuhl.
You get the chance to learn about different cultures.
There are so many content creators from countries around the world. From watching the videos of British YouTubers, I learned some of the slang and what candy I had to taste and to eat at Nando’s while I was in London, which didn’t disappoint.
It made me feel more comfortable on my trip (and know not to be alarmed if I had to pay to use the toilet).
There may not be a schedule.
While some YouTubers have schedules, some do not. They’ll upload a video whenever they get an idea or find the time. Also, YouTubers are people, too, so they get sick or busy and don’t have the time to film and edit a video.
Not every video is interesting or entertaining. As with TV show episodes, you won't like every single video someone uploads. The topic just might not interest you, or your humor won't match theirs. There will be times when you get bored with a video and stop watching completely.
Some are too long or too short.
Just like movies, some videos can drag on forever (or, you think they will because they’re 20 minutes long and just about someone’s day) or the end will sneak up on you.
The silver lining is you’re able to stop watching or watch it again without fear of judgment from others.
The video quality fluctuates. By this, I mean the actual video quality, along with its content.
With videos filmed on the go, the quality is lower because it’s being shot on a phone or compact camera in a setting that isn’t entirely controlled. The lighting may not be great, the wind might affect the sound, and the picture may be out of focus.
You can get emotionally invested, fast.
If you’re the type of person who can get obsessed or gets hooked on stuff quickly, you may find yourself becoming emotionally invested.
You start to believe the YouTubers you watch are friends because you feel like you know them on a personal level based on what they share.
You begin to care about them, what they’re doing and supporting them in any way you know how.
This includes buying merchandise (and if you’re like me, you want everything). The true test to your support is international shipping. You question how strong your love is and how much you want the thing.
You can get behind if you don’t keep up.
Some YouTubers vlog daily and upload videos constantly, which can lead you to fall behind quickly.
There have been days when I come back from class and I have five new videos in my subscription box.
I did some calculations, and based on current schedules of the YouTubers I watch regularly, if I didn’t watch any videos for a week, I would have more than 25 videos to catch up on. It’s definitely a time commitment some are not willing to make.
Pro and con, depending on how you see it:
It’s easy to fall into a wormhole and lose hours of time.
I can’t tell you how often I have spent more time than I wanted watching videos because I saw a suggested video that seemed interesting.
I tell myself I’ll only watch one more, and one turns into five (and then 10). Once, I spent an hour watching elders play different video games (part of the 'Elders React' series) because it was so amusing and funny.
But, this can be a good thing because watching those videos made me laugh until my face hurt, which is exactly what I needed that day.
There’s so much content and different creators at your disposal.
Again, this depends on how you look at it. For me, it can be slightly intimidating, but it’s also amazing because I know I won’t ever be bored.