Skip to main content
Headshot of Patanjali Sokaris

Patanjali Sokaris

Politics

YouTube – a creative wasteland

YouTube is very popular, but it seems to be filled with much spurious and poorly-planned content.

There are many good videos, including many how tos that help us do things ourselves that we would otherwise have to pay others to do. There are also many, like Tom Nicholas, Zoe Bell, Shaun, Unlearning Economics and Salari, who produce quality video essays where they take a lot of effort on obviously low budgets to inform and educate us on topics that we would otherwise have to spend an inordinate time ourselves. They help expand our awareness without trying to suck us into some selfish emotional honey trap.

Ignorance is a virtue – reaction videos

A particularly lazy form of video producer is those doing their reactions to somebody else's work.

The format for these videos is pretty simple: they play someone's video to completion, occasionally pausing to add a couple of their thoughts before returning to passively sit there in silence and watch it like we are. The basic premise upon which this format is based is that they have never seen nor heard the video before, and so their reactions are supposedly genuine.

We are supposedly being given an emotional window into their being witness to something amazing that they were ignorant of, but that we know and love, and thus are attempting to engage us in some sort of illumination ceremony centred on them. This is their plan to emotionally engage with us.

This is so bad on many levels:

  1. a.Extremely lazy content production
  2. b.Blatantly selfish emotional manipulation
  3. c.Almost no added new intellectual property provided
  4. d.Purloins a complete existing work of creative intellectual property.

Some of these content rip-off con artists even claim fair use in their total appropriation of someone else's work. Fair use is meant for the purposes of review, evaluation or even parody, but in all cases, it is meant to only allow the minimum portions of a work necessary and appropriate to illustrate the points being made by the appropriator. It necessarily needs to be a small part of a new work, and thus definitely not the total basis for adding spurious and spasmodic commentary.

This is extremely lazy and exploitative appropriation of another's work, with no significant value-added for a viewer other than a brief sense of emotional connection before realising the con taking place. These videos are total exploitation of both the original artists and the new viewers. Don't indulge these cheap con artists!

Now, there are many who do provide in-depth analysis of other's works, but some lament having to be wary of using too much for fear of being caught out by YouTube or the copyright holders of the original works. Perhaps they ought to focus upon making original works of their own instead of over-relying upon usurping others for one's livelihood.

All this highlights two problems with the current economic systems. One is that the economy is not really geared to supporting people creating their own content as they feel forced to scrounge existing content in order to timely make content that they can monetise. The other side is that copyrights are far too long, compared to patents, and so lock up the collective of human accomplishments purely for selfish exploitation well after the amount of time the original creators really needed to make a living out of their work.

That does not really excuse those lazy content creators, but like most widespread problems, they came about because of systemic exploitation by a few powerful and influential people to favour their own wealth and aggrandise their own importance. Until we deal with the corruption and manipulation at the core of exploitation and inequality, those at the bottom rungs of society will continue to have to eek out an existence from whatever they can, even if it aggravates us.

Political videos – a group pile-on

There are many channels devoted to putting a political spin on events reported by mainstream media.

In these videos, we have a main presenter who outlines the main point of a news item or article, and then proceeds to put their spin on it, often quoting from it. That is followed up by one or more people adding their own spin to it. This then generally results in a free-wheeling conversation laced with ridicule and other snide remarks.

This format follows the format of a lot of TV morning shows where the presenters basically drown a news item in irrelevancy and spurious comments until it loses relevance. In the end, these TV shows and YouTube channels serve to subordinate the news in favour of promoting their personalities, turning important events into a look at me competition.

Ironically, these YouTube channels denigrate their source mainstream channels for pushing their agenda and propaganda, yet ignore how much they rely upon showing that content verbatim while earnestly pushing their own agenda and propaganda. A hypocrisy-fest all round! .

Unfortunately, it is the combination of spin and personality indulgence that undermines any real value from these channels. In the end, they don't provide any lasting value, but become a source of dissatisfaction and resentment. Steer clear of them once having realised how little value they provide. Their only redeeming grace is that they do expose some interesting content from the mainstream media, but it is best to just watch those bits and skip through the rest to avoid the spin and keep one's sense of perspective.

Parasites on insecurity

It is natural for a visual medium to end up being focussed on physical appearance, but YouTube is over-endowed with all manner of parasites that prey on other's inscurities.

Between self-help gurus that only seem to be helping themselves, vacuous commentators on rich peoples' lives, and get-rich quick schemers, there are so many that are trying to pressure people into seeing their lives as a failure if they are not focussed on making lots of money and spending it on goods and services to make them look good.

This is a recipe for cultural suicide as it only sees people as either exploitable or exploiters as the only two valid identities. There are no grey levels or accommodation of people having other priorities in life. To the exploiters, the prize is to rise to the top of the heap to be an exploiter.

Of course, all this is sugar-coated as some alpha fantasy of natural order, which was based upon research done in 1947 by Rudolph Schenkel on wolves at a Swiss zoo. The so-called alpha males were those who dominated all others and so defined the effective hierarchy of the zoo pack. This research came to be translated into humans as a reason why males were naturally inclined to dominate, and any attempts at changing this was undermining the male psyche.

However, when Rudolph started studying wild wolves, he learned that there were no alpha wolves terrorising the rest, but caring males that looked after their families. This was such a revelation to him that he disowned his previous research as it was based in what wolves did when confined and under duress.

Unfortunately, the myth continues to be used as a justification for selfish domination and wealth accumulation, with the constant exhortation to be greedy providing the stress to keep the myth going. Justifying dubious means with dubious ends does not end well for those involved. With so many millions caught up in the fantasy that most cannot achieve, the sick game will take a while to play out.

Of course, there are a whole lot of others who want to parasite on other peoples' insecurity and those are the right-wing political pundits that will spin lies, racism, rabid conspiracy theories and other white-supremacist, misanthropic rubbish to foment dissatisfaction into anger and other irrationalities. They try to sound intellectual, but it does not take much fact-checking to see through their ruse. Steer clear to keep sane, otherwise a deep rabbit-hole awaits!

The basic lesson here is that we should define our own identity, in our own time and pace, and not rely upon those who are caught up in myths for life advice.

Atheist fundamentalists

There are a lot of people on YouTube that are enjoying using their supposed intellect to discredit religious people, especially Christians.

Underpinning a lot of modern Western culture is Christianity, as it could be easily focussed on exploitation and subjugation of much of the rest of the world. That is mainly because it has a fairly simplistic narrative that lacks the introspection that its other contemporary religion Buddhism has, and so could be used to readily weaponise its adherents against others, in much the same way its sister religion of Islam has been.

Furthermore, Christianity inherited a far more simplistic doctrine in Judaism than Hinduism from which Buddhism was born. Much of the real science the west inherited was from the Hinduism of India, and certainly in cosmology and mathematics. The mechanics and timeline of the Hindu creation story align much more closely to the modern scientific understanding of the origins and life of the universe than the Judaeo-Christian-Islam one does.

So, into the vacuum of deep introspective thought that a lot of Christian dogma unfortunately relies upon, comes atheists, who, with much of the same self-righteousness and self-referentiality, daringly dismantle some rudimentary Christian low-hanging intellectual fruit, thereby showing off their intellectual prowess as if that is enough to justify their own bigotry.

Unfortunately, such atheists do not try to turn their so-called intellectual prowess onto examining the fundamentals of their own beliefs, which seem to be based upon the unproven contention that God doesn't exist because some people have some dubious ideas about what God is. It is a sort of I'm better than you because you're an idiot line.

The real issue to prove or disprove is whether there is an overriding will and consciousness that is driving the universe, and doing such things as crashing galaxies into each other on purpose, and if it is, what is that purpose. The level of cosmic understanding required to make a definitive ruling on such a question is probably well beyond the intellectial capacity of those who confidently proclaim such a consciousness doesn't exist because some people on earth believe it is focussed obsessively upon responding to their whims and token gestures.

In a way, such minor intellectual pursuits are a training ground for the development of mind, but to no avail if it results in those undertaking it thinking they have arrived at some enlightenment though it, and thus do not evolve their thinking beyond it into the realms of higher mind.

Experts in useless things

Fiction is entertainment, but there are many who feel a need to provide in-depth analyses of it.

Fictional writings and movies can affect many, and so discussing those effects can be beneficial in understanding how they create those effects and what that indicates about our psyches. But that is not what this section is about. Instead, it is about people trying to analyse the fictional characters and plots as if they are real, and what that might mean about their psyches.

Our educational systems are predicated upon teaching us about the real world and how to understand it, but also about how to manage it. In understanding systems, we can manipulate them to achieve our goals, and so hopefully improving our lives, though increasingly we are seeing the downside to over-exploitation of nature and people that is leading us to the brink of extinction.

However, applying such rigour to analysing what other people have made up as if they are real is a dubious waste of time, just because made-up stuff doesn't have to obey the laws of nature or even be coherent. Searching for causal relationships across the discontinuities inherent in fictional characters and plots is likely to produce false deductions.

Storytellers are fallible and not all-knowing. They will have only covered what is sufficient to produce an illusion in the minds of their audience. In movies, it is the production designers who flesh out the visuals with the on-camera details that makes the audience willing to suspend disbelief in the illusion. The illusion is broken when we see what really went into producing those details.

Studying the real world is not trivial, and can involve a lot of time and money, especially if it requires specialised instrumentation and skills in designing experiments and analysis of the resulting data. Conversely, studying things that don't really exist doesn't require any of the expense and probably few of the deeper analysis skills, as applying the latter will too quickly discover the myriad of discontinuities, misalignments and mismatches to reality.

But all this is of no concern to those who have so immersed themselves into the illusions, and have a similarly inclined audience, that they carry on as if what they are doing is somehow a worthy endeavour, and will lead to some state of enlightenment for their audience. Or they could be of the exploitative cynical type that sees an opportunity to draw people into their sphere of influence.

Now all this would be just a bunch of people pursuing a distraction from the difficulties of their own lives if were not for the rising belief in bat-shit crazy conspiracy theories that are obviously not real, yet have adherents that are willing to commit physical violence upon those that don't believe them. A lot of the conspiracy theories rely upon supposed causal relationships that just don't stand up to any sort of rational analysis, yet so many are willing to accept them as true, despite contrary evidence.

Indulgence in the fantasies of a fiction writer of entertainment is one thing, but losing the ability to recognise that it is fiction is what leads many to being drawn into the lies that are supposedly reality, which, in the midst of a pandemic, has resulted in massive losses of lives as those people refuse to see the threat to themselves but also the threat they are to those around them.

This is another YouTube rabbit-hole that is best left alone. Read the books or watch the movies, but don't get caught up in useless discussions about them. They really don't have any meaning too far beyond the sentiments that they might tap into. If going to spend any time discussing them, it is better to study why they affect you, rather than the details of their content.

Everybody has an agenda

People don't produce videos without wanting viewers to do something, even if it is to watch more of their videos.

There used to be a magazine called Ramparts which had long articles that would provide a lot of history, facts and background about a topic, only to be finished by what seemed to be another writer adding several paragraphs that pushed a strong political agenda. Does that ending mean that all the pages before it were tainted or worthless and so should be discarded? No, but perhaps just the ending propaganda. Such articles can be the basis of making one's own decisions, but only if the factual content can be readily separated from the ideological.

There are many video journalists, as mentioned at the top of this article, that provide a lot of food for thought, but we can see that they have an agenda, or at least a political undercurrent. However, while noting the agenda, their material still has merit of itself, and is thus worthy of indulgence. We come away richer in our understanding without having to take on all that they say.

Then there are the slickly produced, big-budget propaganda videos, mostly with right-wing think tank backing, that are heavy on agenda yet almost devoid of facts. These are fairly blatant attempts to subvert our thinking into accepting beliefs that actually work against our wellbeing. What they present can sort of sound reasonable, but only if any deeper thinking about them is avoided. These are to be avoided because they are often just filled with lies or misinformation purely to reduce resistance to their backers' exploitation of society, its institutions and people.

In the knowledge realm, a video's worth seems to be in inverse proportion to the amount of money spent producing it. As people become popular on YouTube, they become the target for companies and organisations that have products, services or ideologies to peddle. Once they have taken the money, their production values often improve substantially, but they start avoiding certain topics or any criticism of their sponsors, making their videos far less useful as sources of factual information and more like infotainment.

YouTube has become the platform of choice for visual presentations, but we must use discrimination in what we take to heart, as there are many who are not wanting the best for us, despite what they say. Fortunately, there are many presenters that can enrich our lives with thought-stimulating presentations, and they can make the sifting through the video trolls worth it.


External sites open in a new tab or window. Visit them at your own risk.
This site doesn't store cookies or other files on your device, but external sites might.
Manage         Help   Powered by: Smallsite Design©Patanjali Sokaris         art-a  3  0  2021-11-16-23-57-42