Saturday, October 17, 2009

Social movement on YouTube.

At the beginning of the quarter, we watched An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube, a video of a talk given by Michael Wesch. In the video, he mentions that we are in an age where we covet our individuality, but long for community. We are basically communal beings, yet past generations have always found something standing their their way to community--in 1848, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, living with the social isolation of being a woman whose only company was her children, devised a Declaration of Sentiments, which was a sort of women's declaration of rights. In the early 1900s, immigrants moved into slums with others from their country to try to preserve a sense of community, even if they were isolated from society as a whole. In the 1950s, suburbanization led to the lonely housewife and stressful breadwinner scenario. I feel as if today we are faced with different challenges to the companionship that all people seek.

Coming together as a community isn't just about improving our quality of life, per se. Many of our problems stem from the fact that we are socially disconnected--although we have the tools to connect. Our suburban lifestyle has exacerbated environmental problems. Our social isolation has undoubtedly led to higher rates of depression. Our disconnectedness from the rest of the world has led to weariness and distrust.

There are hurtles to overcome on the way to social connectivity, though. Falseness, distrust, shyness, etc. The fact that only people of a certain financial standing are able to connect this way, or have time to forge connections.

Here is the first video I wanted to share, an example of YouTube users coming together to share a smile. I think it's adorable!

A larger-budget project, Playing For Change, seeks to bring people together globally. Artists from around the world collaborate on songs without ever meeting each other.

The well-known and ever-hilarious Numa Numa song--a small compilation of the guy who started it all and several people who were completely bemused by him.

Where the Hell is Matt? is another large-budget production, apparently, because this guy manages to dance his way around the world in about 14 months, and gets people from various countries to dance with him. His dance is completely ridiculous, by the way!

The Free Hugs Campaign is a favourite. The founder was living in London for a long while, and when he returned to his home in Sydney, he found that there was no one there to greet him. I feel like Free Hugs is now a household term--there were always a few people at the Farmer's Market in Boulder to give out hugs, and it was the best thing ever. I think this is a great example of bridging the gap that the Internet can't help but leave.

And, lastly, laughter yoga with John Cleese.

Also, I decided to add some other great videos...I kind of feel like I've already posted too many, but I get excited. So here are a few honourable mentions...

Stockholm's dance tribute to Michael Jackson. An excellent flash mob!

ImprovEverywhere's high-five elevator! I love people's expressions.

Three fairly well-known YouTube artists collaborate. It reminds me of the Postal Service's album "Give Up," which was done entirely through mixtape--one member would record a layer and send it back, until all of the songs were done.

I think there are difficulties with building community, but I feel that community is ever-so-important. What do you think? And also, what are your favourite social media moments? Did I miss anything?


  1. Let me know if you would prefer the videos to be linked instead of embedded--it would be no problem to change it!

    I just felt like perhaps we needed some weekend relaxation and a reminder that social change is so very possible. ;)

  2. I love this post! It really brings about how technology can be used positively to bring people together or start something up.

    The Free Hugs example is definitley one of my favorites. I've seen numerous people around Athens and back home alike doing things like that ever since the videos emerged. It's really cool how YouTube was used to spread that message, and now it's something that a lot of people know about and do for fun.

    This doesn't really have much to do with social movements, but another one of my favorite things about YouTube is that one video where people are dancing to "Forever" by Chris Brown down the aisle at a wedding, instead of the traditional song. They had this creative idea and have been able to raise a lot of money for the charity they support based on all the views that their video got.

    And there are tons of other "creative" wedding videos out there, as well. It's like people who are able to share their ideas can get more people to act less conventional, or think of creative things themselves. Makes weddings a lot more interesting, imo. :P

    Anyway here's the link to the Chris Brown wedding vid:

  3. And since I was on a cute wedding video kick: dude proposing to his girlfriend via Super Mario Bros. :D

  4. This is great! Your post makes me wonder about how these sorts of happy moments end up changing how we feel in small but important ways. Like a social version of the "butterfly effect" where an extra kitten picture or free hug ends up saving unknown numbers of lives, relationships etc.

  5. One more comment: I just ran across an article about social inclusion through online social networks, and how it might be especially beneficial for socially excluded teens. current issue of JCMC

  6. love it. It certainly is the little moments in life that make us happy and shape who we are!

  7. Just in case people wanted to know about the Numa Numa song, they are singing it in Romanian and the name of it is "Dragostea din Tei" and what they are really saying is "nu ma, nu ma iei"