Thursday, November 20, 2008

Catholic Culture in Online Media

The other day I examined a YouTube widget where you can choose channels of "YouTube Partners" that you're willing to have posted in the sidebar of your blog in exchange for ad revenue. While attempting to add channels that I like, it soon became obvious that the "Partners" are a more exclusive group than I thought. There is a difference between Partners and just any random person who posts a video (even if it's good).

According to the site, "YouTube Partners" are those video makers who are paid by YouTube to keep making videos because they bring lots of traffic to YouTube. When adding this widget, there are categories to help you find videos that you think would fit with your site (e.g. Entertainment, Comedy, Sports) but no category for Religion.

I'm not sure whether this means that religious videos aren't as valued or that religious videos don't bring in as many eyeballs to the site. Perhaps Catholics just don't patronize the companies who pay YouTube for those eyeballs. Who knows. You can go with whatever YouTube "thinks" goes with your site, but you don't know what you're getting. Perhaps something that would reflect poorly on you.

There are (at least) dozens of very good Catholic videos on YouTube. Unfortunately, the keyword "Catholic" pulled up politically liberal channels (TheYoungTurks), atheist/anti-theist channels (TheAmazingAtheist), and the like because they were the only Partners to choose from who used the term Catholic as a tag, probably to ridicule them in a video. Who knows why, but at the moment when it comes to Partners' channels, you're more likely to get something anti-Catholic or just un-Catholic.

So who cares. When my fellow conservatives analyze this last political election, they point to a need to change the culture and trust that people's hearts will follow. (I agree of course, but during and after that I think we need to push for a mechanism like Ranked Choice Voting or else the Republican Party is going to corner us conservatives every two to four years into a desperate, lesser-of-two-evils vote for their various "anybody but a Democrat!" candidates and then proceed to do very little or nothing to improve the situation of the innocent unborn.)

So if we're going to spread Catholic culture, we need to first partake of Catholic culture. Now where to start? I'd say we should consume something Catholic and share it if we liked it. Ask for a recommendation from a priest or other spiritual advisor. Curtis Martin, the founder of FOCUS (the Fellowship of Catholic University Students) recommends never recommending a book that you haven't read. I suspect that his advice is spot on. Of these two choices, what makes a better gift when you're buying something for someone's Confirmation, conversion to the Catholic faith, etc.?

A) a book that I "saw at the store and thought it might be good"
B) a book that I "also own myself and got a lot out of reading"

By process of elimination, I think it's 'B'. I've gifted a good number of Catholic books that I hadn't read yet and nobody has ever mentioned the gift to me again, so 'A' is out.

When it comes to online media, there's something there for people who don't have the time or fortitude to tackle extracurricular books. I would like to see real, orthodox Catholic channels like AscensionPress08(Christopher West) or wordonfirevideo (Fr. Barron) thrive and reach Partner status. There are probably a lot of young Catholics who use YouTube. Sign up for an account there and subscribe to channels like Christopher West's, and Fr. Barron's. Then share it. Thanks.

Credit to Marcel at Mary's Aggies" for mentioning Fr. Barron's channel today.

PS, if you can't be a "bookworm", be a "tapeworm". You can get a great 10-CD set of Christopher West Theology of the Body CD's at The Gift Foundation for only US$4.90, down from the previous $10, which was also very cheap.

Update: the "Naked Without Shame" series is now available for free online download!

1 comment:

Douglas Naaden said...

That's an interesting bit about YouTube Partners. Thanks for posting that.

I do know that the pro-life videos generate reams and reams of comments of people arguing back and forth. I oftentimes take part in those arguments. Same thing with religious videos. I noticed on Digg (when I frequented it about a year ago) that a seeming inordinate amount of surfers have atheistic leanings. It bugged me to no end.

A while back, The Brazos Coalition for Life had embedded a video on their site for the BeingHUMAN series. After the video played a little list came up with related videos. I had to disable the related videos because a lot of very foul pro-abortion videos popped up as being related. Pretty lame, but not unexpected considering the amount of friction pro-life and/or religious topics can have.