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An Exploration of Youtube’s Decay

Sarah Bensetiti

Secretary


Via Innovation Village


From its humble origins as a dating app designed for users to share brief self-presentation videos, YouTube has undergone a profound transformation, emerging as a towering presence in the digital landscape. Revered as the "free Netflix," this platform now boasts an astonishing 800 million accessible videos, firmly establishing itself as an indomitable force in the online realm. For countless individuals, YouTube has transcended mere novelty to become an integral component of our digital existence, with most of us actively contributing to and engaging with its evolution from modest beginnings to staggering growth. Its journey has been nothing short of extraordinary, mirroring the evolving desires and demands of a global audience hungry for diverse content.


     However, despite its monumental success, YouTube has encountered its fair share of challenges along the way. The platform's incessant UI updates, the proliferation of revenue-generating advertisements, and a controversial algorithm have raised legitimate concerns about its trajectory. The once-seamless and enjoyable user experience has been somewhat marred by these developments, prompting questions about whether the platform's evolution has truly broadened opportunities and enriched the user experience, or if its exponential growth has inadvertently undermined the aspirations of individuals seeking to establish careers in this ever-shifting digital landscape.


     Undoubtedly, YouTube has heralded unprecedented opportunities for creators across the globe. It has emerged as a fertile breeding ground for careers that were once deemed inconceivable. From animators to video editors, commentators to educators, musical artists to culinary connoisseurs - the spectrum of possibilities is as vast and diverse as the content itself. YouTube stands not only as a platform for education, but also as one for entertainment, seamlessly merging the realms of learning and leisure. 

Despite its current challenges, the platform's past achievements serve as a poignant testament to its transformative power, reshaping not just digital culture but also the careers and aspirations of millions worldwide. Embarking on a YouTube career was once akin to embarking on a thrilling voyage into uncharted territories of creativity and expression, with the world eagerly embracing the platform's offerings as a breath of fresh air in the realm of entertainment: a television experience free from the shackles of rigid regulations.


     Yet, what has changed since those early days of boundless promise? Why do we now hesitate before clicking on the YouTube icon, a platform that was once our go-to source of entertainment in a landscape dominated by traditional television channels? The answer lies in the fact that YouTube has evolved into a billion-dollar behemoth, driven more by capitalist greed than by a genuine commitment to meeting the needs and expectations of its users and content creators alike. 


The introduction of YouTube Premium and the proliferation of unskippable advertisements have transformed the platform into an increasingly unwelcoming environment. Clicking on a video now entails subjecting oneself to a barrage of unskippable ads, with some content creators or even YouTube itself inundating viewers with over five advertisements within a single video. This inundation mirrors the frustrations of traditional television, significantly diminishing our enjoyment of the medium. What was once an escape from the constraints of traditional television has now become an embodiment of those very constraints, as YouTube succumbs to the same profit-driven imperatives that plague traditional media. 


     Beyond YouTube's relentless pursuit of profit maximization lies another critical factor contributing to the increasingly alien and uninspiring atmosphere pervading the platform. While the algorithm's efficacy has waned in recent times, the prevailing content landscape on YouTube, captivating the bulk of viewers, poses a significant challenge and threat to smaller content creators. With the ascendance of influential figures like MrBeast, established content creators have ramped up their investments in video production, prioritizing elaborate and high-budget concepts to secure attention and prominence within YouTube's competitive interface.


     Consequently, it has become financially viable only for creators to publish videos that introduce novel, expensive, and meticulously crafted content. This trend poses a daunting obstacle for emerging creators who lack the requisite connections, time, and resources to meet the standards set by these costly productions. As a result, they find themselves overshadowed and marginalized, unable to compete with their more affluent counterparts who command attention through their grandiose concepts. In essence, the process of creating videos for YouTube has become disheartening, resulting in a dearth of fresh faces and innovative content, ultimately fueling YouTube's decline. 


     Thus, the insatiable greed of YouTube's corporate entity, coupled with the strategic choices of influential content creators to produce videos that border on the unattainable for those lacking substantial financial means and industry connections, has profoundly exacerbated the pervasive sense of apprehension that accompanies every visit to the platform. Yet, in acknowledging and addressing these realities, there exists a hopeful opportunity to foster a more equitable landscape, one that affords aspiring creators the chance to thrive and prosper in their pursuit of a YouTube career, and finally offers freshness to audiences desperate to spend the little excess of time they have before engaging in their various daily activities…

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