The Scarlet & Black

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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

YouTube bares all at the expense of the individual

Over winter break, during one of the many incredibly lazy days that I spent slowly moving between my bed, couch, and refrigerator, I happen to be up early enough to catch one of the more “noteworthy” news pieces of 2011. As I flipped through the various major news stations that are provided to me through the lightning rod of an antenna my dad so ceremoniously lugged up to the roof when the whole nation switched to digital, I was aghast with horror. But more than the look of utter bleakness that came across my face were the words that came to my lips,” Are you f’ing serious?”

Now you may ask yourself, since you are of course fully engrossed with my life at this point, what story that appeared not only on CBS, NBC, ABC and FOX could be so disturbing that it warranted the f–bomb? It was the story of a man by the name of Ted Williams with a voice like butter. But it wasn’t just his voice, which the nation was now so enthralled by, given the silky smoothness that flowed effortlessly from his lips. Williams had literally, within a matter of a few days,  gone from sleeping under a bush to trading pleasantries with Matt and Meredith on the Today show. And how did this miracle like transformation become news on all the major networks? A YouTube video.

So what’s my problem? Why am I up and arms over what seems to be incredibly good luck for a guy who literally didn’t even have a cardboard box to scratch his name into? Well it isn’t about him at all, but a bigger ripple effect that I fear could become the downside of what could be termed the YouTube generation. Don’t get me wrong, YouTube is just about the coolest thing since sliced bread, but the minute videos posted become viral sensations, the elephants in the room concerning the lives of the people that we spread across our televisions seem to get jumbled into this media phenomenon that can be bigger than we are able to handle. And so is the case with Golden Voice Ted. The bandwagon effect was pushed into overdrive as not only the major news networks jumped at, but so did the sport’s franchise with the Cavaliers itching to get in on the action, as if an announcer could make Coach Byron Scott’s team actually win a game this season. But by and by no one seemed to notice that mastodon sized creature in every interview Ted did; he is a recovering drug abuser and tosses back the sauce to a frequency that makes even the most bad–ass Grinnell drinkers look like pups.

So did it really come to a surprise that not a week into his new fame and fortune ol’ Ted was talking to Dr. Phil, America’s resident daddy when it comes to problems ranging from bad parenting to professional escorts, regarding his pending vacation to rehab? Does no one else see the problem here? Was this possibility so far removed from everyone’s minds that they couldn’t get past this man’s voice and offering him everything under the sun and stop to think, “Hmm, maybe there are some underlying issues to this man’s current predicament that we ought to take into consideration before we rocket him into a world with the very thing that caused him to drop out in the first place.” No! Because apparently America rather have a YouTube hit than actually worry about a person’s life. YouTube is great, don’t get me wrong, but at what point do we stop participating in mindless sensationalist viewing and think about the social responsibility that we have when we upload that video onto YouTube?

Well 2011, I guess we will find out how many moments stop me dead in my tracks and question the people that make up the nation I live in and exclaim, “Are you f’ing serious!”

-Ariel Vinson ’12

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