The Snare of YouTube’s Slogan: “Broadcast Yourself”

When Humanity Gets Broadcast, Things Can Get Messy.

Blake Nail / 3.31.21

If I could travel back in my life and change one thing, it would be to get in the YouTube game early on. Now, that might sound trivial and childish, but I’ve seen the numbers some of the YouTubers make, and I can tell you one thing: ain’t nothing trivial about that many zeros. But on a more serious note, I remember making silly videos with my brothers consisting of All That style skits, Jackass like stunts, and our feeble attempts at short films. The older we got, I realized we could have followed the motto of YouTube, “Broadcast Yourself,” but we never did. And to this day all our footage sits on a DVD inside a broken case with a bunch of other junk in a cardboard box gathering dust in the garage.

Thankfully, there are plenty of other creators out there who ventured into the YouTube space. YouTube is famously known as a vacuum that sucks away your valuable time and wandering pupils into it’s all-consuming programming. You can be watching one video about how to install doorknobs only to get pulled into a clip from Superbad that you forgot about but still makes you chuckle for a brief moment. Ten minutes later you are in a livestream watching someone rant about the latest DC film and how it seems they will never catch up to what Marvel Studios has accomplished. But at the same time, that’s the beauty of YouTube. The wonderful tutorials, the informative videos people have put their energy into, truly have made the internet a better place. It makes “Broadcast Yourself” sound like a terrific slogan.

Then there are those videos that make you wish no one ever broadcast themselves ever. It might be the kids pranking people in grocery stores by throwing gallons of two percent on the floor. It could be the videos of so-called “Karens” complaining to store management. Or it’s possible it’s even the people with horrific video quality. (I mean, it’s now 2021, what are we doing here?) These are the people that make you wonder: Is “Broadcast Yourself” the best idea?

You can scroll through pages and pages of apology videos on YouTube. Apology videos for doing the wrong thing, saying the wrong thing or even being associated with the wrong thing. This happens for the same reason there is such amazing content on the site: People are broadcasting themselves. You see, YouTube’s slogan is a catch-22. Of course, you can truly broadcast yourself and show the world anything and everything you so desire. But the world wide web is not free from the law. In fact, it is heavily burdened with it. So, the more of yourself you show, the more the law is going to come for you. A brief scroll through any YouTube comment section will show you the gavels that run aplenty on the website. I myself have commented things that ten minutes later I’m feeling ridiculous for even thinking.

The ability to broadcast yourself, even if it’s via the comments, is the ability to broadcast a judge. To sit back and make snap judgments on people’s lives, their crafts, and even their standing as a good human being. Every popular YouTuber has a slew of followers who seem to follow them just to hate on them. You’ll find comments of love and support but then right under those will be the people who have seen everything wrong with the person. And of course, sometimes the judgment is valid. There have been plenty of cases where the self being broadcast was disturbing and up to no good.

At the root of our desire to broadcast ourselves is the desire to be seen. It appears, especially in today’s world with social media, that everyone wants to be known and seen. We share parts of our lives and cover up other parts in an attempt to broadcast a version of what people might actually double tap. We don’t want to hear the verdict on who we really are; we’ve already heard the declaration. We hear it all the time. This thing we do with the internet, it’s human. And when humanity gets broadcast, things can get messy.

While the internet is quite unforgiving, there is somewhere one can broadcast oneself free from judgment. Not in the presence of millions, or billions, online. But in the presence of one. God calls for us to truly broadcast ourselves, as we are. And the good news is, there is no fear of judgment attached to this broadcast. The jury has already deliberated, and the verdict’s already been declared. In the presence of God, there are no shouts of guilty from the podium. There is no list of charges being presented. No observing eye watching every move, no derogatory comment being prepared, and no entertainment being made of one’s foolery. There is only a judge with a high proclivity towards grace and a gavel that broke ages ago. Praise the Lord, for the court has been adjourned.