My YouTube “watch history” is embarrassing. It's my favorite social medium, an endless supply of entertainment and information – and I spend way too much time on it. I mean, there are so many movie trailers I have to watch, and someone's doing a "Let's Play" of Bioshock!
For many, YouTube is synonymous with wasting time; some of the top videos trending now are Ellen DeGeneres pranking Bruno Mars and Nicki Minaj's latest music video. But Youtube's cultural impact is almost immeasurable. It's the digital community of our generation, and as such its potential to be misused is only matched by its potential to benefit.
Our world is very good, but cursed. Technology like the Internet was developed as a part of the human mandate to have dominion over the earth. Youtube specifically was created to facilitate community and creativity. So it doesn't have to be a waste of time, and the difference is in how you use it. With that in mind, here are my top three worthwhile accounts to follow on YouTube.
If you're looking for four-minute introductions to the current trends in fields ranging from philosophy to science to economics, BigThink is a great place to start. The videos don't come from a Christian perspective, so don't expect this content to be theologically uplifting. Rather, the benefit of this channel is that is provides an honest introduction to the arguments Christians can expect from a secular perspective.
Where it comes from: The YouTube channel is the video arm of a consulting firm by the same name. BigThink bills itself experts and delivers it in an easily manageable format to individuals and companies.
What to watch first: Michio Kaku, a prominent theoretical physicist and speaker, lays out a scientific theory with massive spiritual implications in “The Universe in a Nutshell.”
2. Soul Pancake
Poured from a “brain batter of art, culture, science, philosophy, spirituality, and humor, SoulPancake is a light and fluffy breakfast of life's big questions.” One of the channel's most remarkable achievements was introducing the world to Zach Sobiech, a 17-year-old songwriter diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer called osteosarcoma. Zach succumbed to the disease in May of 2013, only months after his diagnosis, but his song “Clouds” became an Internet sensation. SoulPancake was created to start conversations about things that matter, and it does a very good job.
Where it comes from: The channel was founded by actor Rainn Wilson, who is perhaps best known for his role as Dwight Schrute on NBC's “The Office,” following his release of a book by the same title. "I believe in God. Some don't. Every person has some kind of spiritual life, even if they think they don't," Wilson told USA Today in 2010. "There's no agenda with SoulPancake."
What to watch first: President Obama explains to his nine-year-old counterpart, Kid President, how to change the world.
Think Bill Nye on a budget. There is a close-knit and prolific community of YouTube users dedicated to making science interesting through the web video medium, and Smarter Every Day is a fan favorite. Destin's unique charm and minimalistic filming style showcase endlessly fascinating physics questions answered with often explosive methods. Every video ends with a Bible reference displayed briefly on the screen, above an icon of Reepicheep, the adventurous talking mouse from C.S. Lewis' Narnia stories. It's these subtle reminders of faith working with science that put Smarter Every Day in the top spot.
Where it comes from: Destin is a rocket scientist and family man from Huntsville, Alabama, who began the channel as a way to save money to send his kid to college.
What to watch first: AK-47 Underwater: Exploring the physics of bullets with a swimming pool and a high-speed camera.
What are your favorite YouTube Channels to follow? Let us know in the comments.
Lucas Zellers is a regular Axis contributor and former intern.