From Lurker to Subscriber: A Love Letter to Youtube

*Skip the intro & Scroll down for a hit list + short list of Youtube channels and playlists that combine entertainment and intelligence to bring the internet some unexpected and much needed quality original content.*

A summarized personal account of growing up as a millennial with Youtube: viral videos, film, & quality content.

Growing up, I never got into Youtube like my peers. Friends would show me the newest viral videos on their phones, and make references to them in passing, but I never made an effort to find out what made Youtube so popular. I only saw it as a video uploading service that would allow users to share cat videos or the newest viral video over email, text, etc, and as a result it seemed frivolous. I was always a somewhat serious kid, which made me kind of (okay, a very) unpleasant person to have a more light-hearted or crude conversation with. On the other hand, I embraced the comedy that I saw on film at an early age, beginning with the slapstick and physical martial arts comedy style of Jackie Chan, the dry humor of BBC classics adapted from writers like Jane Austen, and years later, the hilarious films of Hollywood’s golden age, and more recently, films by Wes Anderson.

Like many college freshmen, I started taking a larger interest in something unexpected, which for me was film. I started to dabble in the filmmaking process, but never fully stepping into a career towards film because of the political, commercial, and artistic chaos that I knew a life in film would entail. I was too unsure to blindly change my career goals, I began consuming films and taking film classes when I could. During this time I was still not interested in the very-accessible video host, Youtube. It wasn’t until more recently that I would start subscribing to channels on Youtube. However, I did become more interested in the social impact of the site my sophomore year of college.

I think my first formal introduction to Youtube as a information-sharing and educational platform was through one of my house-mates. She would subscribe and follow Youtube accounts somewhat religiously, and she shared her experiences with beauty gurus and other interesting characters on Youtube. These were very different videos than the viral videos with funny babies or novocaine induced episodes that I was used to being shown in passing. These “Youtubers” were more akin to bloggers or indie filmmakers. They would plan/write their channel content, film, edit, and then, most importantly, star in many of their own videos. In a sense, these Youtubers were more like mini-filmmakers or mini-documentarians, dreaming up video content and following its creation from abstract idea to full-on serials. All of this is old news, but for me it was eye-opening. I didn’t think it right away, but my introduction to fearless, risk-taking content creators really made a large impact on my perception of what a platform like Youtube can do, and how it can (and in some ways, has,) become an integral part of an always-online society.

A list of channels that transcend the viral video to provide thoughtful and meaningful content. A mixture of humor, creativity, and intelligence makes these channels unexpectedly subscription worthy (in no particular order).


If you love: Sacha Baron Cohen, Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis

Subscribe for: Interviews with real people that you cannot believe exist but secretly realize are actually very similar to you (California On)

Stay for: Serious revelations gained from interviews (California On, Going Deep* Mature Content 18+)

Anna Akana

If you love: Indie shorts, film, Tina Fey, getting schooled

Subscribe for: humor and slice of life re-enactments

Stay for: professionalism, quality content, podcasts, short films & behind the scenes/making of (Explain Things To Me, Short Films, Behind the Scenes)

Refinery 29

If you love: fashion, travel

Subscribe for: professionalism (to be fair, Philippe von Borries and Justin Stefano of Refinery 29 had a lot of success with the Refinery 29 brand pre-Youtube)

Stay for: Collaborations (Asha Leo for Style Out There, Jenn Im** of ClothesEncounters for Hang Time with Jenn Im /Dear L.A. with Jenn Im, Evelina Barry of Evelina for Daycation with Evelina)

** If you love seeing Jenn Im interview, check out her collab with Glam: Street Scene with Jenn Im

Jack’s Gap

If you love: Indie film, British accents, good looking twins***, coming-of-age stories (***Note: beware the fan girls)

Subscribe for: charismatic fledgling filmmakers, Jack Harries and brother Finn Harries

Stay for: Professionalism, global adventures, honest to goodness relatability (The Rickshaw Run, Following Heart)

You don’t have to subscribe to catch these awesome playlists– mini serials that showcase the powerful role and potential that Youtube plays and has in giving users a global perspective.

Explain Things To Me by Anna Akana

Style Out There by Refinery29

Following Heart by JacksGap


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