We’ve all seen the power of social media. Facebook can get you jobs or lose you opportunities. Blogs can make you famous or infamous. And with knowledge comes power. Used in the correct way, the Internet becomes your adoring public, praising your work and allowing you to explode onto the pop culture scene; used in the wrong way, you can become a disgrace. And now, another opportunity has come to showcase the good and the bad.
YouTube, a Google owned website, is famous for its user generated content. If you haven’t seen the “Grape Stomping Video” or “Charlie Bit Me,” it seems like you’ve been living under a rock. In the past few days, the video hosting site has seen a lot of traffic.
We start with the good. As we end our week, we all breathe a sigh of relief for it’s finally Friday. And, as we’ve now seen and heard, we are not the only ones. Rebecca Black, a 13-year-old girl, has burst onto the scenes with her hit single “Friday.” Now, I can’t boast that I listen to the most sophisticated music but I can say with confidence that this song is terrible. The lyrics are awful, her voice is painfully nasal and the video looks like a teen movie gone horribly wrong. So what’s the good news? For one, if you didn’t know the days of the week, she can teach you! Also, her viral music video has been seen over 14,300,000 times. And, as I reiterate again, it’s terrible. Using the power of the Internet, this untalented little girl has been able to get a following, whether or not it’s full of people who love her or hate her is a different story. But, her goal has been reached. Right now, millions of people are listening to her single, including my roommate as I type, which is offered of iTunes, making her name in music huge. If you care to subject yourself to this current monstrosity, the link is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CD2LRROpph0.
Now we explore the devastating effects the Internet and YouTube can bring. As you’ve all probably seen, a student at UCLA recently posted a rant pertaining to her thoughts of the Asian culture on Campus. Not only did her broad remarks show ignorance to the community, but the video got especially juicy when she “spoke” in an Asian language. Since the posting of the video went viral, life for Ms. Wallace has been hard. Rumors of her expulsion from school have circulated, as radio shows, large newspapers and news programming have all covered the story as people slam her for her racist comments. It’s been noted that this very well could damage her professional career forever as no company is going to want to associate with her. While she has offered a public statement of apology, the future of Ms. Wallace is still to be seen, and all because she decided to post her rant on the Internet. To watch her rant, please visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7XAJo3rQn8.
So my discussion prompt on the matter ties in ideas of ownership of the Web as well as ownership of personal content. While Net Neutrality is a hot topic now, we must also understand that as soon as content goes out onto the Web, we lose control of it. Your pictures on Facebook, even if untagged, are always on there; you can’t control who sees them or who can save them and take them as their own. We must be very cautious when approaching what content we put out there. That being said, we must also need to learn how to manipulate the technology, using it for our own gain. Like any type of media before it, there is power within content and within people who subject themselves to it. So do we make a “contract” with the Internet as soon as we begin to use it and can we blame anyone but ourselves for the consequences?