Homegrown Superstars – A Brief Look At YouTube Virality


An eagle flying away with a toddler, a speechless father opening a thoughtful Christmas gift, and a failed marriage proposal. These are just a few of the videos that captured the attention of the nation.

And not one of them made their debut on local or national news broadcasts.

Thanks to the powers of the internet and the affordability of digital camcorders, seemingly average people throughout the country are recording life’s most amazing moments, posting them on YouTube, and becoming superstars.
It’s called virality, and it’s the newest way people who live otherwise average lives are making names for themselves.

The eagle flying away with the toddler? It was fake. It was generated by a group of digital graphic arts students, but it was viewed by nearly 40 million people. Imagine putting that on your resume.

Gone are the days when people had to wait for the evening news to see what other people–the “special” people–were up to. Today, anyone can post something on YouTube, and often, it’s the average family’s most personal moments that have the biggest impact.

That speechless father? He’s a lifelong Alabama football fan whose son gave him tickets to watch his beloved Crimson Tide battle Notre Dame in the college football championship in January. Celebrities like Lindsay Lohan and Brad Pitt, with their publicists working 24-hours a day, couldn’t manufacture a moment so pure, so full of joy.

And that’s what makes virality such an important part of society today. It can’t be manufactured. Companies try because, if it could be manufactured, it would be worth millions. But it can’t. Because it has to be real. It has to be authentic.

Like the guy who proposed to his girlfriend on national TV at an NBA game. That was real. It was also painful. She said no. And since the video of the debacle was posted on YouTube, more than 2 million people have logged on to watch it.

Ouch. But oh well, there has to be at least a few single ladies who’ve now seen that this guy is romantic–and quite the catch, did you see the size of that ring? That’s the thing with YouTube videos posted by average people. It can either work out really well–some people have parlayed their amateur video success into paying gigs or even full-time jobs. Or it can backfire–some people have lost their jobs after posting videos of outrageous behavior on YouTube.

But either way, it gives everyone across the nation a look at what life is really like in the United States. It’s entertaining. And with the prevalence of digital camcorders and mobile video technology, it can make anyone a homegrown superstar.

Featured images:
  •  License: Creative Commons image source

Joan Price is a writer and amateur videographer. Follow her on Twitter @JoanniePrice.

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