Happy birthday to You(Tube)


By Camron Owens

I’m sure many of you are aware that this Saturday, Feb. 14, is a special occasion. While most of us love the day, there are some who do not. Nonetheless, it is an annual event that will be here soon.

I’m talking, of course, about the birthday of the website YouTube. As we prepare to gather around our computers, phones, iPads, smart TVs and other web enabled devices, I want to raise a glass, or at least an opinions column, to the website that has done so much for me and many others.

YouTube, where do I begin? I still remember when you were born back in 2005. America was still recovering from the Janet Jackson/Justin Timberlake Super Bowl halftime show, an incident that would later play a part in your formation.

The year 2005 was just as ruthless. It was a year when Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston divorced, Tom Cruise was jumping on Oprah’s couch and 50 Cent was trying to take us all to the candy shop.  

It was a different time back then, a time when we needed you most so we could replay some of these memories for years to come. 

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When you appeared, the world had no idea what it meant to “Broadcast Yourself.”  You didn’t have much to show and many of us were unsure of what you would become. Some were skeptical of the content you would host while others embraced you with open arms. I, for one, always subscribed to your way of thinking. You were an outlet for people to share and discover videos while they neglected to do things that were probably more important. 

Like a time-lapse video, in what seems like a short amount of time, I’ve spent years witnessing you grow into the global sensation you are today, right before my eyes. 

That isn’t to say you haven’t had some obstacles to overcome along the way. You’ve endured some pretty dark and disturbing comments, a very public dispute with Viacom and some racy Nicki Minaj music videos, but through it all, you’ve prevailed.

There is so much you’ve shown and taught me in your 10 years of existence. Everything from practical life knowledge like how to tie a tie or solve math problems to fun lessons, such as how to play the theme song to “The O.C.” on the piano.

Being co-created by a former University student, it is easy to see why you contain so much information (Go Illini!). You’re an online classroom where anyone can learn anything. 

With all of this unforgettable knowledge, you’ve also never shied away from making me consider the hard questions. Philosophical questions like: Will it blend? What does the fox say? And what happens when you mix Diet Coke and Mentos? These are all thought-provoking inquiries that you’ve assisted us in seeking answers to.

It wasn’t just me who you were inspiring. You inspired the world. If it weren’t for you, we would not have footage of some of the most important historical events and news clips at our fingertips. Better yet, you usually let us see an auto-tuned version of that footage.

Along with news, it would be wrong of me not to bring up your work in politics. Even Miss Teen USA South Carolina 2007 could not provide political insight the way you do. You’ve influenced elections from around the world, pitted prominent leaders in epic rap battles and helped us decide which 2008 presidential candidate we should have a crush on. This is a pretty impressive feat for a 10-year-old.

This isn’t to say you aren’t without your faults, dear YouTube. I’ve spent time with you when I should’ve been doing something more important and we were all pretty despondent when you started showing advertisements before your videos. 

But as dancing has evolved, I suppose we must all continue advancing toward the future.

YouTube, I hope you have a wonderful birthday that is spent enjoying some chocolate rain with close friends like Google and listening to music provided by Vevo (after a short advertisement of course). Who knows, maybe even the distant MySpace will make an appearance.

The world would be a darker place without you, YouTube. In honor of you, I hope everyone will take time this Saturday to dance on treadmills, leave Britney alone and bite Charlie’s finger. 

After all, its not like there’s any other major event going on this Saturday.

Camron is a junior in LAS. He can be reached at [email protected].