From the BoobTube to YouTube

Watching television was an extremely restricted activity in my house growing up, and for that reason, I couldn’t get enough of it.

My little brother and I weren’t allowed to watch it all the time like our lucky-duck friends were. And, as a double whammy on the meter of unfairness in our lives, our mom and dad were much younger than the parents of our pals, yet they were stricter than all of them.

In grade five I started babysitting my seven-year-old brother in the afternoons when our folks were still at work. Our mom instructed us to do homework after school, and once we finished we could read a book or play a board game. Under no circumstances were we to turn on the “boob tube” that would rot our brains.

But reruns of groovy shows like The Brady Bunch and Bewitched were on at that time, so there was no possible way we could adhere to such an unreasonable rule when left alone like that.

With 12 glorious channels to choose from, there was always something exciting to see on our old black and white, and every day we’d watch it for as long as we could.

An hour or so later, when we heard a car pull into the driveway, we’d quickly run up to the telly, turn the knob to the dreaded “off” position, run back to the couch and crack open our books before our mom or dad even opened the front door.

If our father was the first to arrive home he would sometimes touch the top of the TV as he walked by it. Jeremie and I would hold our breath and look at each other nervously, praying he wouldn’t notice its warmth. He never did.  Years later we found out that he knew exactly what we were up to, he just didn’t mind.

I  now have that same attitude about the television with my own kids, and I allow them to watch it. Within reason.

Sam and Daisy are like my brother and I were. If they had their choice, they’d start their day with the TV on and that thing wouldn’t be turned off until they fell asleep in front of it, well past midnight.

“We cancelled cable the day we became parents,” an acquaintance told me last week. “Children who grow up ‘watchers’ do not become ‘doers’.”

I wonder if there’s statistics to prove that. Probably. There are studies and statistics that can prove just about anything.

All I know is that I don’t believe the TV will render us useless. I was obsessed with it as a kid, but I’ve seen very little of it as an adult since I’m always too busy doing something else.

Yet, despite my lack of tube time, my fascination with pop culture persists. I can thank the Internet for that.

Surfing the web makes it easy to keep up with what’s going on in TV land without having to actually watch it.

If I want to find out who Honey Boo Boo is, I don’t need to look for her show the old fashioned way and watch the darn thing. All I have to do is Google her name and up pop videos – with subtitles – that show me in a matter of minutes.

“I would never have cablevision,” a young friend told me last week. Oh boy, I thought, bracing myself for more judgment.

“Why would I?” he then asked. “I can get anything I want from Netflix and YouTube.”

Good idea. I should look up The Brady Bunch and Bewitched to show my kids. Now that would be groovy.

Lori Welbourne is a syndicated columnist. She can be contacted at LoriWelbourne.com

How to make a viral video

About five years ago one of my business associates told me that he spent at least an hour a day watching YouTube. At the time I had no idea what in the heck he was talking about and wasn’t the least bit curious to check it out. These days, I’m regularly posting videos of my own.

It wasn’t the path I planned to take when I started writing this column, but once I began sharing my written stories, I felt compelled to do it visually as well, especially since there’s such a large number of people who prefer watching to reading. And, as it turns out, the process is very similar to writing, it’s just done with a much more expensive pen.

The people reading my column in the newspaper are often not the same ones who are watching my videos on TV or online, and some might wonder what a viral video even is. Not everyone has access to the Internet or has any interest in it at all. If this includes you, you may be tempted to abandon reading this article right about now.

But if you’d like to learn what a viral video is and how it becomes that way, I can explain. Sort of. A viral video is one that becomes extremely popular through the process of Internet sharing. How it gets to that level, I have no idea.

My video this week has fun with some of the wildly successful clips out there, but it doesn’t explain how one particular production stands out like a brilliant star and gets passed around the world, while another one of equal or better quality does not.  That remains a mystery.

“It’s like winning the lottery,” one of my friends said referring to the likelihood of any video going viral. With 48 hours of footage being uploaded onto YouTube every hour, I think he’s quite right. It’s like being a needle in a haystack that never stops growing.

But, still, a girl can dream.

“You just need to get a baby laughing hysterically and you might have half a chance,” another friend advised. Good idea. Those little people are contagious and can result in huge payouts to the parents who film them.

My social savvy friend suggested that I “play the game” and claims there’s a real science to it. Another good idea. I almost paid a social media guru a ton of money in the hopes of increasing my numbers, but I couldn’t come up with the funds to do so.

I’m not saying I won’t when the timing’s right, as it could be an incredibly smart investment, but at this point paying someone to play the game and get me more hits just isn’t my focus. And neither is creating short videos that will appeal to the masses. Yes, I want people to read and watch my work, but my hope is that it will grow organically with added media broadcasts and more people sharing it on social media and email.

I’m so grateful to Shaw TV Okanagan and all the newspapers and websites that do showcase my work. If I never register on the YouTube radar and none of my videos ever goes viral, I’m okay with that. But having one of them get the measles or chickenpox would be nice. Does anyone have a baby I could borrow?

To watch my video that goes with this column please visit LoriWelbourne.com