The Machiavellian Manipulation of Online Culture by our Corporate Overlords

Do you ever feel like you’re not getting the recognition you deserve for your videos? Does it seem as though, no matter how hard you try, you’re just not gaining any traction online? Perhaps you have been recognizing the signs that dark and sinister forces are conspiring to prevent you — clearly the next Orson Wells — from being discovered. If the struggle for online engagement often seems like you’re playing against a stacked deck, maybe, just maybe… you are.

Who are these faceless men in expensive suits who meet in dark, smoke filled rooms to decide your fate? Some would speculate it’s none other than those behind the scenes at YouTube.

When YouTube went live in 2005, it seemed like a utopian platform of democratized distribution for a new generation of content creators. And, for some, it was. But quickly, big corporate business interests found ways to market their products through this pinnacle of new media, and a dark age began.

On the exterior, we saw advertisements embedded anywhere they could fit. To some extent, this is expected; television and radio are both monetized through commercials that pay for the programming we enjoy. But once we scratch beneath the surface, we find much more ominous going-ons behind the digital curtain.

Time and time again, when we examine what’s trending on YouTube, it’s clear there’s some back room deals going on to promote certain, content that favors, shall we say… The Man?

On any given day, you’re likely to find the trending content on YouTube to be almost exclusively created by big studios. On the day this was written, we find Pokemon, The Late Show, The Tonight Show, NFL and Last Week Tonight. These shows and the networks and studios that produce them have controlled the airwaves and cable for years, if not decades! Why must our new, supposedly democratized distribution also be overrun by them?

I don’t go to YouTube to see content that was live on TV last night. I don’t have enough of a life to need that! I watch it live, like an adult with responsibilities and just a few hours of quiet time in the evening to blissfully zone out. I go to YouTube to see the weird stuff being made by independent creators. I go to see the work of the visionaries who don’t have access to the tools or distribution deals that would allow me to find them anywhere else.

So, why would the people at YouTube be hell-bent on selling out the little guy in favor of international corporate interests with deep pockets? What could big, multi-billion dollar businesses have to give a profit driven company that you or I can’t offer? What would be the draw of a titan of media production with a steady stream of new content and a large, paying, audience, over me, a relative nobody?

I’m not entirely sure, but I’m guessing the heads of the big studios learned a special handshake while in Skull and Bones with Mr. YouTube.

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