I think I was in third grade when my mom received a call from the mother of one of my friends. This particular mom sounded nervous. “Do you think there’s any chance Joey might have, um, introduced Nick to ‘YouTube’?” 

“Well, that was certainly possible,” my mom replied. “Joey laughed a lot at those online videos, after all, and had even showed his sister some of his favorites. No issues there.”

There were issues, though. Nick came from a Mormon family. Forget about even uttering a curse word; these folks (among the kindest and most compassionate I’ve ever met) were intensely devoted to their religion, which meant they were altogether prohibitive of anything that might corrupt their children.

Well, maybe it worked. Nick definitely didn’t turn out as poorly as the rest of us. In 2019, however, I think I’ve begun to scratch the surface about why my entire generation ended up in our collective medley of fuckedupness: YouTube. Could it be? You’re probably wondering how you got here, too, so do join me on this journey of spirituality. In order to figure out what you’ve become, you need to rediscover your origins. Here’s what your first YouTube video says about you. 

Evolution of Dance

On the surface, you form your strongest relationships didactically, dominating hangouts with news of the latest Twitter beef (and having fun hyping it all up). But look deeper. There are layers to you. Under your twists and technical perfection of the Thriller dance exists your sensitive being, one who dances not for some soul-fulfilling form of expression but for instant gratification from others. You understand that, while you’re only as good as your best Milly rock, your true worth is founded in who you share those Milly rocks with. So Milly rock all you want; just make sure there’s an audience.

Numa Numa

You’re incredibly ready for the real world. In fact, you are the real world. So much of life, it turns out, depends on your mastery of the clout chase, and Numa Numa makes up the very foundation of clout. It’s true: just exercising your ability to bring this dance staple to life equals relevance in university and professional circles. At the very least, being able to keep these moves in the back pocket most definitely led to a total domination of Bar/Bat Mitzvah or school dance circuits, and that charisma counts for something.

Nyan Cat 10 hours (original)

You’re a sadistic dirtbag. No one forgot about all the bad jokes you made just as everyone was about to fall asleep at sleepovers in 2009, we most certainly don’t care about your Fushigi, and yes, of course we’ve seen your super dope mix-every-fountain-drink-in-one-cup move. Find a new slant, Mendeleev.

Boom Goes the Dynamite

Testosterone. Testosterone? Testosterone. That’s you. Testosterone! Testy Testy. Test, Test, 1 2 3. Testosteroneous Rex. 

Liam Kyle Sullivan

I think I heard cuts from “Shoes” at more than one club in Berlin during my four-month stay there, which, if it doesn’t say enough in itself, should signify how freaky this stuff really is. First, I guess, I commend you for your bravery. More importantly, I laud you for your elevated consciousness. If something like “Muffins” launched you into the world of online entertainment, that means you probably learned what postmodernism was in, like, sixth grade. Big stuff.

Daft Hands – Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

My first thought upon first seeing this video: who could possibly have had the gall to steal a Kanye West sample? My second thought: I’m a dummy. My third thought: oh shit, mom made pizza rolls again. Everyone else who was introduced to YouTube through this video: hold my fanny pack, time to Festival Shuffle for no one in particular.

Leeroy Jenkins HD 1080p

I’m entirely positive that this video is the sole reason for Twitch-streaming celebrity Ninja’s existence. Shame on you, then, for watching— and thus cultivating— this country’s most dangerous cultural sensation since Smosh. Speaking of…

Smosh

I’m sorry for you.

*We didn’t forget about you, Potter Puppet Pals, Grape Lady falls, Charlie Bit My Finger or (sigh) Charlie the Unicorn. Maybe you ended up best of the bunch. Maybe you didn’t. 

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