For most teens and young adults, YouTube is the Google of music videos, movie trailers, television shows, full movies, clips, and infinitely more brain-numbing entertainment. You can learn virtually anything on YouTube, from how to apply makeup, to how to build a bomb, to how to propose to your long-time girlfriend. You can learn to fly a plane, to make ice cream in a bag, to draw a realistic manga face, to eat with a tongue piercing, to look like Lady Gaga. All you have to do is ask YouTube your question, mindlessly sit back, relax, and enjoy the show. There’s no reason to bore your mind with all that dull thinking that people used to do in previous generations. No, on YouTube, there is no need for critical reading or analytical skills. You do not need to feel any genuine emotions, it will tell you exactly what you should feel, and when, and (thank heaven) it will guide you through the coping process, helping you understand and manage your feelings.
For an insight into our generation’s interests, I breezed through the "Most Viewed Videos" chart on YouTube, since it is obviously the window into the our generation’s soul. I knew it could give a sense of what the current generation finds appealing or entertaining. It would tell viewers how people spend their time when they are bored, and what sparks their attention, what stimulates their minds. But the details may be disappointing, even embarrassing: as of May 12, the top five videos watched worldwide are all music videos. More precisely, the top five most watched videos are:
1. PSY's "Gangnam Style" (in Chinese)
2. Justin Bieber’s "Baby"
3. Jenifer Lopez's "On The Floor"
4. Eminem's "Love The Way You Lie"
5. LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem"
These videos expose a generation in desperate need of visual entertainment. Even music, an art form which used to be studied and appreciated, is no longer something we simply listen to, but something we need to see with our eyes. Every one of these videos is filled with movement and light, colors and passion. It is as though we are no longer capable of appreciating or even perceiving emotions with any of our senses except for sight. Passion, anger, love, pain — it needs to appear in the form of a bright fire or seductive dancer in order to excite any form of feeling in us.
Walking through Times Square for a minute will tell you the exact same thing: Ours is not a generation of subtleties. Perhaps the internet growth spurt has molded us into these kinds of people. Any information is accessible with the click of a button or two. The entire world has a parallel universe in cyberspace. Everything happens at the speed of light. We have grown accustomed to immediate answers, immediate gratification. And such an immediate gratification can only come from sight. We lack the patience and endurance to develop and refine our senses.
And so the most frequently watched videos on the popular YouTube site so perfectly reflect the reality of the current generation. Music is only appreciated when it is embodied by something concrete. Emotions are only recognized when they are coarsely, physically displayed. We have lost the art of subtlety, and replaced it with a gross and unsophisticated transparency. At the rate at which this trend is picking up speed, it is hard to imagine which shreds of fineness and tact will survive in the next generation.