Drinking on YouTube?

With the advent of YouTube videos, how can the methods of visual sociology do anything but increase in popularity?  But do videos show us a representative slice of the social world?  Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh concluded that what you see on YouTube is not representative of what is actually happening in the social world–at least not when it comes to getting drunk.

On YouTube, being drunk is most often portrayed as men having fun, getting a lot of laughs.  But the reality?  You can probably fill in the blanks yourself, but they certainly include car accidents, victimization, unsafe sex, and fights. I hope you haven’t found out about that through personal experience.

You can read more about this research in a Boston Globe article:

http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/nation/2015/03/01/youtube-depictions-drunkenness-are-light-consequences/wJBE0uHNKaR3GeI8kvtyGP/story.html

What would you like to study by coding YouTube videos?  What cautions would you suggest for researchers taking this approach?  What other techniques would you use to study beliefs about the effects of excessive drinking? Do you think that researchers have an obligation to do something about the social harms that they identify?

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