From High School to YouTube, Hank Green Thinks Outside the Box

/ Sep 5, 2014


You can tell that Hank Green, one half of the Vlogbrothers and a founding father of VidCon, is a brilliant man even before reading off a list of his various achievements (which includes the creation of 2D glasses–not a joke, but an accessory that actually un-does the visual effects of 3D movies). In talking to Rhett & Link on “Ear Biscuits,” Hank revealed his propensity for knowing, which evolved into his unique style of online teaching.

Having been a big fan of science communicators like Carl Sagan and Bill Nye, Hank had a propensity for the kind of entertainment that also transfers knowledge. Being a nerd in high school, the kind that is “a little bit defined by exclusion,” long had Hank thinking outside of the mainstream. As he so eloquently put it, he learned, “Culture is constantly whispering things into your ear about what you should want, who you should want…asking why do I want is far more useful in the end than asking what do I want.”

Following the path of getting people to think for themselves, Hank’s brand of internet presence focuses on giving them thought ammunition. As Rhett describes, it’s not preachy, and it’s still entertaining, but it differs from the kind of content Rhett & Link deliver, of which the “primary objective is to entertain.” Hank ends up dispensing information on YouTube and the internet in general, which he has been doing for some time.

In fact, Hank has a history of fostering communities on YouTube, one that began when he was living Florida. Back then, he started a website decrying the nuisances of I4, a widely detested highway in the state. To spread awareness about the website he’d just created, Hank used a stencil and spray paint to tag the website’s name all over Florida road signs. In about a day, Hank had the news calling him about his endeavor. In other words, Hank was harnessing the power now found in digital social media like YouTube long before the birth of that digital universe.

Now, Hank’s mission has grown far beyond traffic policy and into the idea of “decreasing world suck” with his brother, John Green, with whom he started his YouTube career. He’s extremely committed to the YouTube community they’ve created, the Nerdfighters (as is his brother) and the community of YouTube creators they’ve helped bring together by creating VidCon.

Overall, Hank understands the power of YouTube and it’s ability to bring up ideas from creators who think outside of the box, as his nerdy high school experience taught him to do. As long as YouTube is open to pretty much anyone, Hank believes “people will be doing things that mainstream media will not.” For more of Hank’s internet wisdom (and beyond), check out this week’s “Ear Biscuits with Rhett & Link.”

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