With Christmas in less than 24 hours, R&M will be taking a much-appreciated break until the New Year. That’s right, folks. In just a little over a week, we’ll say good-bye to 2009, only this time we’ll also be saying good-bye to the 2000s. It feels like just yesterday people were buying water and canned goods thinking that the world was going to end with Y2K.

This decade has definitely been interesting, filled with ups and downs. From the largest terrorist attack on American soil to the election of the nation’s first African American president, there’s been a lot to talk about. The emergence and eventual dominance of social media has made discussing these events that much easier. There’s no doubt that social media is here for the long haul, and it’s been truly fascinating to see just how far social media has evolved since its conception earlier this decade. If you’re like me, you’ve already been indulging in those “Best of the Decade” lists. In keeping with the theme of this blog, the one that really interested me was Mashable’s take on which social media tool had the biggest impact this decade.

At first this seemed like a no-brainer to me. It had to be Facebook. I mean the site has grown from zero users to 350,000,000 in just five years. That’s nothing short of amazing. And just the way that Facebook had evolved in general is crazy. The Facebook that I used in 2004 is nothing like the Facebook today. There were no pictures, no status updates, no fan pages, definitely no annoying applications like Farmville, I could really go on and on. After reading Mashable’s take on this topic and doing a little thinking, though, I have to say that I agree with their pick: it’s definitely YouTube.

I admit that I don’t always think of YouTube as a social media tool. To me, it’s more of a search engine. Actually, it’s now the second largest search engine behind its parent company, Google. However, YouTube without a doubt embodies the two main characteristics of a social media tool: sharing content and user interaction. On top of that, you don’t have to be a member to see and share content like you do with Facebook and Myspace. Sure, you have the option to sign up to view certain videos, but if I want to watch a video on cats, I just type it in the search bar and look through thousands of user generated videos. 

Want to see a spoof on the Geico Money Eyes commercials? Search YouTube. Want to re-watch Kanye Wests’ infamous mic-steal from Taylor Swift? YouTube has it. Or maybe you want to hear Obama’s newest speech on healthcare reform. YouTube has that, too. Other social media tools, like Myspace for example, have seemed to lost their luster, but YouTube keeps going strong. In fact, sites like Facebook and Twitter depend on YouTube to remain relevant by allowing the sites to share YouTube’s content through embedding videos.

People have become famous through YouTube. Journalists, singers, comedians and musicians have all used the site as a platform to show off their amateur talents for millions of viewers. “Going viral” has taken on a whole new meaning. Finally, think about this: people spend 1 billion minutes per day watching YouTube clips. Per day! Mobile devices with Internet capabilities have only helped to fuel this.

The future looks bright for YouTube. With new smart phones becoming available all the time and faster, better Internet service, there’s no reason to think that we won’t be watching these videos for a long time to come. Live streaming and TV capabilities are just a few of things YouTube will have to offer in the future. Stay tuned!