Only a little over 5 years old and it’s already hard to imagine a time when there was no YouTube. In a world where ego usually trumps all, it was just a matter time before our century-long ability to capture sounds and images coincided with the increasing facility to communicate them. It should come to no surprise, that the given opportunity to communicate quickly and easily with the rest of the world, we would become philosophers, singers, comedians, and yes, even journalists. We are, after all, rulers of our worlds, and what we say, think and do matters more than just about anything. The social impact of YouTube, however, goes far beyond talent exposure and ego affirmation.
There is a running documentary on humanity that is available for everyone to see at all times.
Sure, some of the highlights are censored, and most of the time, people are aware of the fact that a camera is present so they change their behavior. But anthropologically speaking, any potential acting isn’t any different our acting in public, and there are the always those brave few who either don’t care or are unashamed.
And so, we get to see the best and the worst we have to offer. You can go on YouTube right now and watch someone murdered or an animal of your choice tortured. You can also see someone saved or free tutorial on anything.
On January 3, 2011, a reporter posted a video that may restore your faith in humanity. A video that honorably combats all of the how to commit suicide and dog on fire videos.
Taped with a standard digital camera, the video (click here to watch the original) shows a homeless man with a handwritten sign that says he was a former radio announcer who has fallen on hard times and needs help. He is asked to use his radio voice for the camera, and we experience the clash between the poise of a born entertainer and the anxiety of a man unnerved by suffering and disarray.
His voice booms like God’s in the movies.
The man, Ted Williams from Brooklyn, N.Y., known as the homeless man with the golden voice, is then interviewed and a new internet star is born. Mr. Williams is not just a talented voice actor, but also a seemingly good man who has been ravished by poor decision-making. He talks about his struggle with drugs, his sobriety, his love for radio, and it’s impossible not to empathize.
The sadness and regret in his eyes and the warmth behind his face-wide smile are unmistakably sincere.
At a moment in history where economic hardship is prevalent, “hard times” resonates. Today, millions of people all over America have to accept lives of less luxury and comfort than they once had. Much of this is due to a different brand of bad judgment, but a brand nonetheless. In effect, what we see is a country collectively humbled and forced to accept responsibility, and Ted Williams personifies the extremes of this experience.
When asked in a recent interview on CBS what he hopes to do with his new notoriety, Williams responded: “Well, I would like to just have a job and home … to be able to cook in. I’d like to get my life in a responsible area.” Humble expectations.
And so, two days and 5 million YouTube hits later, the homeless man with the golden voice has a job. The NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers have offered him voiceover work at the Quicken Loans Arena and NFL Films is interested as well. Who better than the Cavs, after the Dan Gilbert diatribe fiasco, to restore their image along with this man?
With viral videos usually of the adorable Charlie bit me or ridiculous Bed Intruder Song variety, it’s refreshing to see altruism finally rule.
Crank that homeless man creators and its 8 million viewers, we forgive you.
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