Ten best things about the world No. 3….


Have you ever prepared for a presentation, or a lesson, or a research project, and just as you have printed your piece or sent it off, done and dusted, you come across a startling YouTube video that says it all better than you could ever have done?  In a fresh and vibrant way that mocks your efforts? Yes, me too.

So my third best thing about the world after parkrun and family is YouTube, with a nod to podcasts and the whole internet world of free media (not, notice, pirated).


Why, I hear you shriek?  What’s good about YouTube?  Isn’t it a source of annoyance and trouble for copyrights, adverts and self-promoters the world over?

Well yes, but also it represents much that is best about the internet.  I have deliberately not included reddit or Facebook, but I feel that YouTube can be a gateway into new worlds, and this surely is what learning and also the internet is all about.  For me, YouTube is a chest that somehow has been filled with all sorts of odd material, but you just know that if you keep rummaging for long enough you will find something valuable.  It’s the thrill of the chase at times, but if you find it too time-consuming, perhaps this post will reinvigorate your YouTube experience.  Have you ever watched any YouTube videos about Tiny Houses? You’re missing a treat it you haven’t.  What about life hacks?  Again, these can be surprisingly addictive (Well, perhaps not the one I put up, but try this one!

A little personal history.  For me, my elation with YouTube began when as a professional teacher, our school network finally unblocked it, and allowed us to use it in the classroom.  There are pitfalls with YouTube (in particular the fact the Minecraft videos my sons watched on my channel always flashed up on the board), but up till then, you were really expected to download film clips FROM YouTube, which seemed very technical to someone like me.  Now, as a teacher, I can curate playlists of YouTube videos on whatever topic I choose.

Teachers are inveterate creators of YouTube content, and during the recent changes at English GCSE, it means that at the click of a button myself, and my students, can access creative content free of charge from any number of excellent practitioners.  And the good videos increase in likes, and the poor ones disappear from sight.  All hail Mr Bruff, Mr Salles and many others who produce reputable content and all with the students’ best interest at heart, rather than making money!


But we’re not all teachers.  And we don’t all use YouTube for professional reasons.  Can I make it clear that I am not writing this as an expert in using YouTube. I have a huge amount to learn.  I spend quite a lot of time at the moment asking people who they follow on YouTube, and what channels they enjoy.  I was disappointed that my Dad couldn’t give me any…  One of the reasons YouTube is so good is that unlike TV, you have so much more choice on what you pay attention to.  I was delighted to chance across some wonderful videos on cathedral architecture, for example.  I’ve never seen programmes quite like this on TV.  Also, let’s not forget that for anyone who ever wants to know how to do anything, YouTube HAS to be your first port of call – let’s please give it credit for that.  Only the other day, my mother-in-law (who is not the most technological of women, by her own admission) proudly declared that she had used YouTube to create some quite charming icing flowers on a cake for her sister’s 80th birthday.


My wife has used similar videos when using clippers to cut my and our son’s hair.  We can all be professionals now.  Whatever you want to learn, be it guitar, calligraphy, Spanish or gardening, YouTube shows you the experts, the learners and the no-hopers all giving it a go.  You can quickly work out who knows what they’re doing from how they talk, and the number of views they have.


I think there are some obvious tricks that a YouTube newbie would be well-advised to follow in order to get best use from YouTube.  The first would be to create your own account.  In doing this, you can upload your own videos, should you wish, and you can create lists of videos under different headings, for example ‘cats’, ‘chocolate’, ‘Stephen King’, or whatever takes your fancy.  Personally, being a cheapskate, I listen to a lot of music on YouTube, and I like to keep lists of songs in the version I prefer, especially worship music.  With any music, if you type the genre of music into the search box, it will give you a playlist of songs, so ‘rock ballads’ or ‘gentle worship music’ or ‘music to do housework’.  Once you’ve hit play, it will give you continuous music, interspersed with ads.  When you get a great playlist, it’s worth liking it or saving it.

Another tip is not to just watch the videos that YouTube pop up on their homepage, but once you have found some good channels who consistently release videos that you enjoy, subscribe to those channels, and work through that feed.  ‘Subscribe’ does not mean that you are paying anything.  All this content is free.  Youtubers who make money make it because viewers have to sit through adverts.   I have a friend who tells me that he reserves his daily YouTube fix for just before sleep, and chills out to the latest videos from his favourite feeds.


I spoke to another friend who told me he has now kicked his YouTube habit – he was accustomed to watching up to five hours of YouTube a day, and those he subscribed to such as Jacksepticeye and the Yogscast ‘family’ who were creating content he felt he just HAD to watch – just google these names to find them.  Have you come across FOMO (fear of missing out?).  It’s one of the deceptive, addictive things about surfing the internet that is NOT the same as taking advantage of the really good content out there.  There are many vloggers who have used YouTube to promote their own lives and have become quite watchable – this is not what I am suggesting you do!  Family vlogging is highly popular now, but it becomes a substitute for your own life.


Technical Tips

There are some nice little tricks that will improve your YouTube experience if you are technically minded – I may try some of these.

But from my point of view as very simple minded, and older than the average YouTube enthusiast, I find it very helpful to keep lists of videos that I want to keep track of.  What a lot of people fear is never being able to find the video again.  Rather than relying on the search function, if you have a channel, you can add a video to a relevant channel by pressing the ‘add’ button as the video is playing, and you can put it under ‘Watch Later’, or put it on another list.  Alternatively, make it a ‘liked’ video and then go to your Liked Videos list; if you’re signed into your channel it’s URL is http://youtube.com/my_liked_videos (or youtube.com/playlist?list={your user ID}).

However, that becomes a very long list, and you’re better off creating lists under headings that make sense to you.  There is theoretically no limit to the number that you can have.  If you want to know more about how to set up a YouTube channel, why not watch this?!  One consideration with YouTube is that you can watch it on your phone (I only do this when using my home broadband), or on TV, or on the computer.  It makes sense to be signed in, rather than on open YouTube, for example on TV, otherwise you can’t quickly access all your ‘bookmarked’ videos.  To quickly show someone a video you’re watching on your phone, just ‘cast’ it to your TV.  As long as your TV has registered your device, it will start playing the video from your phone, and your phone becomes a remote control.  It quickly becomes much more attractive than watching regular TV.

On a perhaps not technical note, YouTube is quite a personal viewing experience.  If you’re controlling what you’re watching, your friends or family may quickly get bored.

Just some great videos!

So I’ve spent way too much time now researching YouTube content for this post, and while I still believe that YouTube is an excellent resource, and represents the best of the internet, it does remain frustratingly difficult to find the best content, and it is a reminder that YouTube is essentially an entertainment channel that will brighten your day.  The most watched videos on YouTube are all music videos promoted by Vevo, with a few videos that toddlers watch (because they watch them again and again!).  Don’t waste time dreaming of going viral because it probably won’t happen, but if you for some reason missed youtube in 2016 here are the virals.

viral videos

Addicted to YouTube

Are you?  Then you have probably already checked out how to quit, but in case you haven’t the Art of Manliness is here to help.  Take it off your phone, take the favourite off your computer, go and find something else to do.  Get a life.  Remind yourself that you have to pay some bills.  Talk to your neighbour.  Stroke the cat.  All these things should help you to get off YouTube.

Finally, I said I would give a nod to podcasts.  These are great, and where you don’t find someone’s content on youtube, you may well find it on a podcast somewhere.  Recently I have found myself waiting to pick my son up on a regular basis with ten minutes to kill, and just stood listening to them on my phone.  I’ve taken this opportunity to check out some that may be a little quirky or current, and if it suits your lifestyle why not learn something more tailored to your interests than radio, or music? While YouTube is great for sermons and lectures, podcasts are a bit more consistent and the audio version of the ‘vlogger’, on more of a weekly basis – there is a ‘reasonable’  list of Christian podcasts here.

top podcasts.png

YouTube – it’s quick, it’s rough and ready, but it’s like a friend at your elbow.  Just don’t let it get too annoying.  For me, I would check into my subscriptions weekly rather than daily, and I reckon that’s enough.







About stayingfaithful

I am looking for anything that relates to life and to a fuller life. I am bored by the normal and the natural and interested in the supernatural. There must be more than this. We were put on this earth for more than a nine to five prison, as someone said a few years ago.
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1 Response to Ten best things about the world No. 3….

  1. Pingback: My Ten Best Things in all the world No. 4 | Staying Faithful

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