YouTube was launched in November of 2005, but its immediate ubiquitous presence on the web makes it seem as if the video sharing website has existed for much longer. Created by three former employees of PayPal, legend has it that the idea for the site was born after one of the founders had trouble finding a video of Janet Jackson’s famous “wardrobe malfunction” from the Super Bowl Halftime Show in 2004. The de facto site for just about anything in video format, YouTube now consumes as much total bandwidth as the entire Internet did in the year 2000.
Perusing the all-time most viewed videos on YouTube is a strange way to kill an hour. Among the mind-numbing music videos by pop stars like Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus, there are cute kids doing cute things, a sneezing panda, the “Time of My Life” scene from Dirty Dancing, a ventriloquist act, and an entirely unarousing thigh massage video. Oh, and that cat video that your aunt Carol thinks is so funny.
It’s easy to think of YouTube as the first site you’d use to find a song you heard on the radio last week, or to see the trailer for the movie you want to see this weekend. But it’s also a resource for more practical uses, because no matter what you’re into, you’ll find it. Detailing a ’55 Chevy Belair? There’s a video on that. Developing black and white film in a dark room? Check. Want 6-pack abs in a 3-minute workout? Yep.
Every once in a while I’ll happen across a video of something cringeworthy or embarrassing, like a news anchor cursing when she didn’t know she was live, and it’ll make me hope that the worst moment of my life doesn’t wind up on YouTube. Nobody wants their 15 minutes of fame to come that way, but it happens often. The flavor-of-the-month pop stars with 600 million views will come and go, but thankfully, YouTube stars like Antoine Dodson and the Techno Viking will always be here to make the internetz a more interesting place.