Back in October, I wrote a blog on the power of YouTube vloggers reaching unprecedented success through gaming channels, makeup tutorials, video diaries or a combination of the three. At that time, the Internet was blowing up over news of popular British vlogger, Sam Pepper, who had released a “prank” video in which he touched women inappropriately without their consent. Evidence that young people are extremely invested in the online community could not be stronger, and the momentum has not seem to be slowing down.
It’s safe to say it’s impossible (and also ignorant) to disregard something’s social presence when the president of the United States starts paying attention to it, and that is exactly what has happened.
On Tuesday, U.S. President Barack Obama delivered his annual State of the Union address. Within 48 hours of the speech, the president will sit down with YouTubers Bethany Mota, GloZell and Hank Green, who will each conduct 5 – 10 minute interviews with the leader of the free world.
Mota, known for her makeup tutorials (and appearance on this season of “Dancing with the Stars”), GloZell, known for her comedy (and my personal favorite cinnamon challenge) and Green, known for being one half of the “Vlogbrothers,” each have millions of subscribers. They will be responsible for asking questions sent in from social media outlets about issues plaguing young people, such as education and net neutrality.
This isn’t the first time Obama will interact with Internet celebrities. Back in 2014, he met with YouTubers such as Hannah Hart and Tyler Oakley. According to Variety.com, Obama met with these young stars to spread information about Obamacare to a wider variety of people of various ages.
So why would the president spend time answering questions with people our parents haven’t even heard of?
Symbolically, the fact that YouTubers are meeting with the president is pretty representative of the world we live in, and it’s incredibly exciting. YouTubers who have built their fame and career on interacting more directly than ever before with fans can now use those relationships to directly pass on concerns to the president.
We’ve all felt that aggravating sensation of being old enough to understand and have an opinion on politics and world events, but being too young to vote or have much of an impact. Now, the Internet, including YouTube, has become a platform for all of us to express our fears and concerns. One day, the policies that ourselves and our elders are voting on will directly affect those who are young and look up to these Youtubers, and those young kids, as they get older, will have to deal with the aftermath, both good and bad. YouTube, Twitter and Facebook are integral as forms of expression, and in the tumultuous world that we live in, they have never been more important.