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Pondering the universe

Politics

YouTube – a creative wasteland

YouTube is very popular, but it seems to be filled with much dubious 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, Innuendo Studios, Shaun, Unlearning Economics, BadEmpanada, Zoe Bee 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.

Wasted content

There is such a push to get income or influence from YouTube that many create poor or dubious content.

Ignorance as 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 their 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.

I can do that!

People who have watched videos on topics they are interested in sometimes think they can they could be spending their time doing the same thing.

Video production requires a lot of skills, and when done well can make it seem effortless. That seems to give some people the idea that they could do the same. After all, how hard can it be? What we see when they begin is overlong videos full of poor scripting, many distractions and often a lack of focus by the presenter.

People have got to start somewhere, but a modicum of preparation and attention to the narrative would have led to vast improvements. The problem is that many don't seem to have the awareness or inclination to make any improvements. They may get a small following which may just make them think that they don't have to change anything, which means they don't bother to learn what may make them better communicators.

These are people who have turned an interest of theirs into a channel, but they are not really grounded in the nuances of their interest, and so don't evolve to learn more or improve their production and presentation skills to help their viewers get more out of their topics. They are personable, but not communicators, and so spend more time in chat-like meandering dialog rather than knowledge transfer.

These are not malicious people trying to subvert us, but they are bordering on incompetence, both in their subject matter and presentation. It is very easy to lose interest in them, but not until after having spent time indulging them, only to find they are a waste of time compared to those who want to do better. Fortunately, after having watched a couple of such people, it is easier to spot others like them soon after their videos start.

Shaggy-dog yarns

What seems like it might be an interesting story is a long drawn out video yarn with lots of stock footage.

While from different channels, the format of these videos is the same, with a voiceover narrating a story while accompanied by stock footage. The voice is trying to make us feel the story, but after enduring the 10 minutes or so of the yarn, the feeling is that it could have all been told in 30 seconds, at a stretch. The stories just aren't worth the wait, especially with multiple parts covering the same points.

Reaching the end of any of these feels like the time was wasted, just because the boring voiceovers, while trying to make the incidents they are describing sound interesting, have gone on for so long that the end always seems such an anticlimax. There are never any actual videos or pictures of the real incidents or people, just a parade of stock footage that doesn't even have any continuity with the story other than being suggestive of the emotions that the voices are trying to convey.

It only takes a couple of these to recognise the vocal droning and thus stop them to avoid feeling abused timewise. These seem like they are made up stories disguised to sound like they are about real situations, and nothing is ever presented that can be used to verify any of them. Fake stories with fake emotions.

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 the rest to avoid the spin and keep a sense of perspective.

PragerU

PragerU is a slick right-wing fossil-fuel-sponsored channel peddling lies and propaganda.

PragerU is a professionally-produced video channel featuring many prominent right-wing media personalities presenting their take on many issues in society. Their funding comes from fossil fuel interests and so would be expected to be biased towards such interests and conservatism in general. While certainly reflecting those views, it almost entirely lies about reality, or misrepresents alternate viewpoints. It is a propaganda channel that certainly shouldn't be taken seriously by anyone who prides themselves on their thinking ability.

Given its obvious dubiousness, the channel seems to have a small cottage industry of those who want to take the time to debunk its clearly bogus arguments. Perhaps it presents a challenge for those wanting to exercise their reasoning faculties, rather like budding atheists swarming over Christianity trying to debunk its many logical inconsistencies. However, unlike the latter, PragerU isn't a bunch of writers trying to put their own spin on a teaching, but a concerted effort by one person to mislead the already mislead even further.

Dennis Prager is not trying to enlighten anyone, but to drum up support for conservatism with all the counter-humanitarian sentiments they can muster, and using every dishonest and deceitful means available. It is pure propaganda without remorse. It seeks to suck in those who are feeling lost, but only to smother them in self-deluding platitudes. Other than being an example of the insidiousness of propaganda, the channel does not deserve to be given any attention. Let it subside into oblivion, away from the minds of those who want a better life for themselves and the earth.

Bandwagons of misunderstanding

The Dunning-Kruger Effect has many videos devoted to it, but many don't seem to understand the research behind it, so becoming examples of it.

In 1999, David Dunning and Justin Kruger released some research they did on how university students rated how well they performed on some tests compared to how well they actually did. Except for the very top performers, most overrated how well they performed, and more so the worse they performed. What many presenters imply when discussing this effect is that the poor performers are largely deluded about themselves.

What is clear from the original graph is that while lower performers were more confident of their abilities, all participants never thought they were better than those who did do better. In other words, while most had an exaggerated idea about their performance, they were not deluded into thinking they were better than those who performed better. They were still aware of the reality of their performance in relation to others. This is shown by how the perceived verses actual performance graph had a positive fairly-linear slope, with no negative slopes or abrupt discontinuities that would indicate a reality disconnect.

Unfortunately, some who thought they have understood the research results have become living examples of the effect themselves. For them, discussing the effect is relevant to discussing people believing in non-fact-based conspiracy theories, even though the research does not indicate that the effect is in any way relevant to the cognitive disconnect required for believing in such theories. They are overestimating their ability to interpret the research, though some are deluded over how relevant it is to their arguments.

The original research measured those in a learning environment, which tends to be more eclectic and fact-based than the insular information environments that many conspiracy theorists inhabit. This means that there is likely to be significant factors in the latter group's environments that make it difficult to simply extrapolate the Dunning-Kruger research into an explanation for their beliefs. Extrapolation relies upon a quantitative continuity between the two states under consideration, but delusion may well involve a psychological or rationalisation discontinuity that precludes its use.

Genuine researchers will generally enumerate the limitations of their research and what areas might need further research. This is why it is better to go back to the original research and its conclusions and limitations before being drawn into diatribes about the applicability of it to some current societal problem. Many try to misrepresent selective data from legitimate research as some sort of authority for creating cultural schisms, hoping that people don't check what the research actually states. Don't buy into such dubious click-bait by those desperate for some content to boost their social media popularity.

See The Irony of the Dunning-Kruger Effect for a discussion of the effect, its misinterpretations, and what is wrong with the exaggerated graph commonly used to illustrate it. It contains changes in slope that don't exist in the graph in the original research, meaning somebody made it up, and unfortunately too many have used it to push their own dubious ideas of what it indicates. Perhaps that says more about them than those they are saying it applies to.

Tit-bait

As the name implies, these are videos whose thumbnail includes a gratuitous buxom woman.

Just like the car ads of old that had a skimpily-dressed woman fawning over the vehicle as if the car automatically attracted them, these videos have an image in the thumbnail that has nothing to do with its content, as in does not appear in it. These are designed to attract immature males desperate for a chance to voyeur some female skin, hoping the video will at last provide some relief. Fat chance! Just pass on by, because the content is usually pretty poor, often having poor quality visuals or script.

What not to do

Many are incorporating aspects into their videos that are of dubious help to their audience.

There are some good hints about what habits to let go of, but some obvious ones that should just be forgotten about are discussed in these subsections.

Be a sheep

It may seem that doing what others are doing should be alright, but blindly following them is not likely to bring success.

Yes, we need to do the necessary things to give our channels a chance, like improving our presentation skills or upgrading to better equipment. But following gimmicky trends is just going to make us appear like we really don't know what we're doing. The latest trend is holding microphones, which seems to be some vain attempt at seeming amateur in an increasingly polished professional presentation world, except that seeing it suddenly proliferate makes it seem like a fad followed by desperate sheep without really understanding why. It is being an amateur, but not in a good way.

What really makes people look amateur is that they are showing some measure of incompetence, because they are doing things that a professional would be expected to avoid. Typically that would be in their own idiosyncratic way. Copying someone else look amateur smacks of desperate opportunism, and is definitely not endearing. The real question to ask is about why are people bothering to look amateur?

Being amateur is supposedly associated with being in it for the love of it. The real issue here is that too many are more concerned with making a living out of their channels, and so willing to give up a measure of their independence and time to advertisers to get the money. That usually means they can afford to upgrade their equipment and production values. It is the subversion of their ideals that has sabotaged YouTube, and not loss of their hokey remnants of their incompetence. Being compromised cannot be hidden by the latest fad in fake amateurism.

It is better to be genuine and avoid unnecessary compromises, even if that means that the journey to so-called success is slower. It feels cleaner and less fraudulent that way.

Forget the content, just subscribe

A sign of desperation is a presenter spruiking for subscriptions before showing any content.

Ever gone to a website and before getting any chance to read anything, a popup box requests registration. Unless having previously visited the site and been very happy with what it offered, there is absolutely no reason to provide personal details before getting a chance to actually determine whether the site is trustworthy and useful enough to bother registering with. This is exactly the sort of lack of consideration that turns people away from a site.

The YouTube equivalent is the prompting for subscribing and receiving notifications before ever having a chance to see if the content is actually worth doing that for. Pretty well any YouTube user knows how to subscribe and get notifications because they have already done it at some stage, so it is not like they don't know what to do. This is just superfluous and gratuitous self-promotion with absolutely no benefit to watchers. Hopefully more people will just immediately stop watching so that these channel owners learn that worth must be proven in order to get viewers to trust them enough to want to subscribe.

This behaviour may be a result of seeing that subscribers only form a small part of the viewership, and thinking that the solution is ramping up promotion. The reality is that the great majority don't want to commit to any channel, perhaps because they just use YouTube for entertainment. Any salesperson who expects to be able to turn the majority of leads into sales is unrealistic, whereas 10% is considered good. Most people window-shop, and no amount of promotion will change that, but too much may alienate them instead. Statistics need to be understood in context to be useful.

The aggressiveness of the algorithms may be significantly affecting peoples' behaviour, as just watching a video of something not normally watched will lead to almost half subsequent feeds being filled with similar topics. They may be reticent to subscribe as that will likely make that swamping continue.

I'm feeling…

Personal feelings or reasons for doing things take up valuable content time.

The opportunity window for getting people to stay engaged is in the first 10 seconds. Don't waste it on irrelevancies or ads that are just a distraction for the viewer and more likely to turn them off. Personal reasons for having a channel can be put in the introductory video, or in an about-type video, but loading them at the front of every video is making out that you are more important than the content. Try taking that to the extreme and see how long the channel maintains its audience.

For those who like to listen to talking heads waffling on about how they feel about something happening in the world, but not really adding any real insight to it, perhaps find your own voice by starting up your own channel or website. There are some successful channels like Shaun that don't have much in the way of visuals unless it is some images relevant to the topic. People like to think they are important, but is it reasonable to expect anyone to listen if what is being said is not relevant to them? We have to find our own voice and motivations, and relying upon others for that weakens us.

Stop shouting!

Many internet behaviours can be attributed to the dominance that US culture has in setting internet trends. One of these is shouting to create interest and attention.

It doesn't seem to be enough to just speak, but the habit of speaking loudly and fast seems to have spilled over from US comedy into US internet presentations, as if such modes of talking will make the topic more interesting. It seems as if they are assuming their audience is on valium and needs a pep up to pay attention. Unfortunately, some commentators from other countries have started using these annoying speech modes that only detract from being able to listen to what they have to say without feeling bombarded.

Serious topics do not need US comedy techniques to spur interest. Using them will only undermine any rational thinking about the topic, but then rational thinking may not be the aim. Such techniques are more conducive to creating an emotional response, which would indicate a need to push an agenda by overtaking and blowing up their viewers' rational response ability to weaken their resistance to the agenda. Of course, anyone who does not like shouting will turn off pretty quickly, leaving those more susceptible to making decisions by such wow-factor antics.

There are plenty of quieter and more rational presenters with presentations that help the understanding of their topics. Steer clear of the shouters!

We are beginning to see a lot more videos from people who do not speak English well enough to narrate their videos, so they just show what they are doing. It is such a relief to not have any banter but just to see them do their stuff. This has so much less distraction. The only problem is if they have loud music which then becomes distracting.

Remaining silent when the shit is flying

There are times when there are no excuses to sit by and remain silent.

With the carpet bombing by Israel of Gaza from October 2023, there are a few of the breadtube channels that, despite substantial video essays about many issues affecting the wellbeing of many peoples, seem to have absolutely nothing to say at this time. There is no excuse for that, unless they are ok with it and the other Israeli attempts at genocide. Silence implies acquiescence when a channel's raison d'être is to speak up.

They may be used to only making long-form content or may feel that they don't know enough about it to really provide such in-depth comment, but there is no rule that says that they cannot make a short video stating their position and perhaps providing links to other sites that do provide more detail. It is not a time to remain silent when their channels are supposedly about how we're being treated badly by governments and vested interests. What is worse than a government genociding a substantial part of their population, let along their decades of maltreatment of those same people?

So for all the presenters I mentioned in the introduction to the article, except for BadEmpanada who has much to say about it, what say you when psychopaths are running rampage? Your viewers may want to know if you stand with psychopaths, and silence is not an option. Now is the time to actually stand up and be counted.

Shaun finally released a rather long video about the conflict, though they expected it to be out months ago and much shorter. This is good, but a short word much earlier would have said a lot more. They did feel inadequate to really say something worthwhile when so much had already been said. But standing to be counted does have an effect as it indicates being part of a group and not just an individual, something they commented about at the end of their video. However, timing is important in declaring solidarity, and their voice early on would have said a lot more than an hour plus video.

This is not to take away from their non-publicised work for Palestine in the past, but a few words to 600,000 subscribers would have meant many, who may have been less exposed to what is going on in Gaza because of their living their own lives, would have been exposed to those words from someone they had chosen to listen to. It could have been the call to action that they needed, but now delayed by months. We never know what resources people have access to, and our words might just tip the balance in favour of activating those resources.

Sneaky segues

Ever been watching a video and then been caught out when realising that it is now an ad? Sneaky!

It is deceptive to not clearly delineate advertising from editorial content, and are illegal in some jurisdictions. So segues that seamlessly join them together may be something to brag about (looking at you Amy!), but actually do nothing for the reputation of a channel. While some cultures celebrate such hustling, many from others are put off by it. It is unfortunate that channel operators cannot get enough funding to not have to rely upon such advertising. Advertising detracts from the purpose of a site, especially if it is not related to the content.

Some More News uses a thick red border during the ad segments together with chapter markers around them. These devices are very helpful to easily skip such segments, though they could do the same with another colour to delineate their stupid attempts at humour. Annoying humour can be just as distracting from the purpose of a site, if not more so, than advertising.

Demolition derby

The word demolished, often in all uppercase, is used to imply that the video will completely undermine the validity of its target. Wishful thinking!

The premise underlying this is that debunking the rational basis of the target idea or person's point of view is somehow enough to bring them down in the eyes of their viewers, and by implication, the wider public. This harks back to the expression the pen is mightier than the sword, as if mere words are enough to effect great changes. This ignores that those words, even though they may have changed peoples' minds and beliefs, will not have tangible effects until those people back them up with their own actions en masse, often with the threat of coordinated violence.

Words are merely the expression of an idea, but that idea needs a whole lot of subsequent actions to implement it, and each of those will have their own challenges, and resistance from those who disagree. Without successful implementation outcomes of all those follow-up actions, the idea has no lasting effect. Touting the words does not do anything other than inflate the utterer's sense of importance. Believing that the words have had any effect on their own is delusion. Great ideas do not become that until uttered repeatedly by a great many people over a long period.

To make words have an effect, they have to inspire others to change their beliefs, so much so that they will find ways to make sustained changes in their habits that will change their lives and those of the people around them. Living an idea is hard work because it involves a myriad ongoing decisions to stick with the idea over competing interests and stresses. That involves sacrifice, and that challenges resolve.

The mere suggestion of some sort of victory in the title to a video doesn't cut it. Victory can only be uttered when an idea has been fully implemented and has popular support as such. Without that, it is fantasy. Of course, using the word demolished is just click-bait to create inflated view numbers. If the talking head in the video actually knows what they are talking about, the use of the word in the title sells them short because it belittles their message, which can never fulfil what the title claims. Better that they sack their title writer if they want to have credibility.

Previews

Some are now showing some of the content as a lead into their video. Why?

Previews or trailers are good for getting the gist and feel of a movie to help make a decision about whether to watch it. Of course, for some not so good movies, the trailer has all the best bits, leading to being let down by the movie itself. In general though, no one puts the trailer immediately before the movie, just because it is redundant because people are going to be seeing the movie anyway.

However, when it comes to videos, abandonment is a big issue, so many have taken to placing excerpts from their video at the start, perhaps to get what they see as important before the viewer clicks away.

The issues with this are:

  1. a.The preview is not clear that it is a preview, so it flows directly into the main content, leading to confusion about the sequence of events until the main part of the video gets to what was shown in the preview, at which point the viewer gets distracted when they realise what they had initially seem was a preview, breaking their appreciation of the points made.
  2. b.The main content is often not that long, while the preview is a large chunk, making the video substantially longer with repeated content to boot.

Perhaps some better editing would have bypassed all this, but delineating the preview would help. However, if the original video is not that long, cut out the parts that do not add to the point of the video, so it is shorter overall, and bypasses the supposed need for a preview. Also, manage expectations by not overhyping the importance of the video in the title. Simple principle: what people don't expect won't piss them off if they don't get it! And people getting pissed off will kill the channel for them.

Impeding communication?

There are some production improvements that can improve communication, or at least not impede it.

Overcapitalisation

While song and book titles have traditionally had most words with initial caps, the trend is towards normal sentence capitalisation, except among techos.

Excessive capitalisation in headings can make them harder to take in. We are used to reading and comprehending sentences, so for languages that use capitalisation, we are used to sentences starting with capital letters and the only other capitals being for proper nouns, though German uses it for all. However, the formal way for titles of books and songs has been to capitalise every word except common connectives. As long as they are short that may work, but become more difficult to easily take in when longer.

Many national style guides recommend this sentence capitalisation, and almost all news channels now follow it. However, many channel owners still seem to think that their video headings should be capitalised as if they are short book titles rather than headlines, even when they are like paragraphs in length, but still expect people to easily read them. For a bunch of people who generally seem to think they are on top of current trends, they are hopelessly out of date when it comes to actually noticing that the word capitalisation writing on the wall has been and passed on, except for them.

Make headings easy to read by using sentence capitalisation, which people are used to reading and comprehending quickly.

Loud music

Many seem to be unaware how annoying music is when its levels are not set correctly.

Many may not be used to mixing audio and seem to be relying on the meters when working out what levels to have music. Because music used for backgrounds or non-speech portions is often compressed compared to speech, and thus has high average levels, it can sound much louder than talking which is mostly spikes of sound with quiet in between. This has the effect of overpowering the voice, or music in non-voice sections sounding too loud. Watch the meters to make sure there is no overloading, but listen to the mix to make sure voices can be heard clearly over the music. Often, lower is better!

Exploiters

Many are using at risk people for their own ends.

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 uber-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.

Rat-race entrepreneurs

A lot of people are promoting how to bypass the rat race by ..... running faster in the rat race!

These videos will start with all the valid criticisms of what is bad about living and working in today's societies, with their emphasis on conformity and consumerism. Yes, it is all true, but then their solutions are to set up our own business and be a boss rat. Having the same expansionist goals as all the rest caught up in the rat race is not escaping the race but feeding the same delusion of freedom through gaining plenty of money.

The premise of the videos is that all it takes is obeying a few simple rules and success is assured. The main competition in the arena is those who are ruthlessly exploitative and have amassed plenty of money. Very few people are actually suited to such a predatory role, so most of those who try to put any of the prescribed rules into practice will likely fall short of the drive that is required to be successful in such a competitive environment.

The whole idea does not scale, as then there would be less people to exploit on the way up, both in being the workers in building up the enterprise and being consumers of what it produces. We don't escape the rat-race if we rely on its methods, rules and mechanisms. This is the delusion. We, and everyone coopted into what we are doing, is subject to the same stresses that everyone else is. The real cause of the rat-race stress is having the goal of domination and success. If we have the same goals, we are fully-fledged runners in the race.

Of course, the goal of all these videos is to feed the delusion of success that allows those who buy in to the hype to be exploited. This is just more pyramid belief schemes that rely upon the gullible to fund them. The only real way out of the rat-race is to let go of the goals and focus upon what actually brings a measure of happiness and contentment. These are not actually dependent upon money per se, but just require putting our thoughts to them and allowing them to permeate our consciousness. Then we only need to work enough to do that, and experience the resultant freedom from stress.

Right-wing racist misogynists

There are several white males who extol the virtues of white males and decry the so-called debilitating effect of feminism.

It is clear that these influencers are trying to attract disaffected emotionally and intellectually immature males because their content:

  1. a.Contains multiple misogynist and racist terms.
  2. b.Invites emotional agreement with the above statements.
  3. c.Contains faulty reasoning.
  4. d.Cites references that supposedly support their arguments but don't.
  5. e.Makes statements that are supposedly factual but are lies or misrepresentations.
  6. f.Draws invalid conclusions from what they and their references state.

The clear agenda for these influencers is to emotionally entrap males who feel let down by life and try to direct their frustration and anger at immigrants, women and so-called social justice warriors who they claim are out to rob them of their freedom. They never point the finger at those of wealth who are actually creating the conditions that diminish the ability of those men and the detracted groups to control their own lives. The likes of Stefan Molyneux, Sargon of Akkad/Carl Benjamin or Black Pigeon Speaks/Felix Lace are just pretty well making up rubbish and trying to pass it all off as intelligent arguments.

These racist misogynists are misanthropes trying to use pseudo-intellectualism to distract men from being able to properly perceive the reality around them. They are pied-pipers of delusion sabotaging a generation of men to create the opposite of the freedom they are feigning to promote.

There are some other YouTubers like Ian Danskin/Innuendo Studios, Shaun or Hbomberguy/Harris Michael Brewis, that valiantly try to debunk the dubious facts and arguments of these false intellectuals, and may succeed in deterring a few from falling prey to these predators. Unfortunately, I suspect that the great majority of those who are going to listen to any of the obvious rubbish of the misogynists all the way to their dubious conclusions will be too far down their own rabbit-hole to respond to the properly reasoned arguments of the debunkers.

The latter two YouTubers now seem to be directing their efforts elsewhere. Danskin's videos deal more with the general methods used in right-wing propaganda rather than the inane uttering of individuals. A lot of the racist and anti-feminist ranters are gamers who came to prominence with Gamergate. Similarly, their antagonists are also gamers, but they chose to undertake the debunking of the rants. The latter are still gaming so a lot of their output is non-political game commenting and so will need to be sifted through if their topics are not of interest.

Gamergate was the hate campaign directed towards some female gamers who pointed out the sexual stereotypes – both female and male – almost universally used in games. Games forums became especially toxic to women and any men who sided with them. It attracted many white male supremacists and is credited with being the precursor and training ground for the modern social media assaults by white supremacists now backed by conservative action groups.

Rigid thinking

With so many opportunities to learn about the world and its people, some want us to curtail our thinking.

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 Judeo-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 through it, and thus do not evolve their thinking beyond it into the realms of higher mind.

True believers

Many people are dedicated to a cause, and like to proselytise their beliefs as is they are the answer to the world's problems.

There is nothing wrong with promoting what we believe in, but carrying on as if they are perfect is delusion. For most, beliefs evolve as we gather experience. When circumstances challenge our beliefs we can choose to find a way to incorporate the reality presented to us by modifying our beliefs, or we can double-down on them and reject the challenge as invalid. This is what has happened with a lot of conspiracy theories. Ignoring reality in favour of our delusions.

When presenters really believe in what they are saying, whether it be politics, religion or some other ideology, they will present it as if it has no downsides, and that strictly following the precepts expounded will overcome any difficulties encountered. In their worldview, there is no compromise or recognition of any realities that may contradict the beliefs, despite some big elephants in the room that beg to differ!

What happens is that all their videos are peddling the same dogma. There is no evolution or adaption to changing circumstances. Each video is another exercise in using the dogma to explain some other facet of life or the world. In their view, all problems come down to us not following the dogma. That is a one-size-fits-all type of thinking, and the world is full of 8 billion ways of thinking, many of which will be better tools for life for us than what these true believers are peddling.

With these videos, there can be a lot of learning, but eventually the fixed format and dogmatic presentation grate enough to give them a miss.

Done well

Everybody has a preference for how they want to make presentations on YouTube, but here are some examples of restraint.

A civilised discussion

Roudy or sarcastic discussions are fairly ubiquitous these days, so it is refreshing to find a civilised discussion.

Such a discussion is Hijacking Memory: The Holocaust and the Siege of Gaza where several Jewish academics discuss the weoponisation of the Holocaust for political manipulation, not just for justification of the Israeli genocide of Palestinians in 2023, but ever since World War II by European countries to justify their support of Israel, while also obfuscating their own histories of colonial genocide. In any other setting, such a discussion would generate lots of emotion and interruptions by each participant eager to get out their own opinion.

However, here the discussion was well-moderated, with each person being given adequate time to fully make their points. Even when another disagreed with some of their own points, everyone waited until their turn again before addressing those points. It was all very respectful and restrained, even though each was clearly passionate about that what Israel was doing was terrible. No one had to be kept in line or prevented from interrupting others. In fact, when an open question was asked, there was a pause while all waited to see if anyone else was rushing to respond. That is exceedingly rare.

In a way, for those used to lively discussion, it was all so restrained that many would probably consider it boring. However, there was a lot of very interesting points and perspectives made that will need to be part of any follow-on discussions and negotiations if there is to be any chance of peace in the Middle East, or anywhere else in the world. It was a very comprehensive examination of a complex political situation and the historical traumas and propaganda feeding into it. An excellent example of how we can have sensible public discussions about important issues.

Of course, that they all basically agreed made for less confrontation, but the topic did not need such emotionalism, but more thought and consideration as to how to change what is going on. When a solution is needed, arguments over whether the reality actually exists is distraction. Serious topics need serious discussions, not sensationalism.

Peaceful review

It is refreshing to find a reviewer who lets the viewer see the product and what it does before any talking, and without bombarding them.

Imagine going into a shop to see and play a guitar that is being considered as a possible purchase. Perhaps you would like to bypass any sales people and just go and look at it and play it without interruption. Well the channel with the tongue-in-cheek title to do that is Jon is just TOO LouD!!, with an example being Takamine GY11ME NS. With that introduction, please look at the review video before reading more here.

This video is refreshing because other than the brief introduction, they go straight to panning around the guitar so we can see what it looks like, then playing it in their standard miked acoustic setup before demonstrating it plugged in. Only after all that do they offer their fairly brief opinion of it. No distracting banter along the way nor filling our heads with any ideas about the product before we've had a chance to appreciate it for what it is.

Also refreshing is the total absence of any of the normal promotional fluff until the very end. To all reviewers, take note of the format of this as there are many who do not appreciate unnecessarily overbearing presenters making the videos more about them than what their viewers are actually there for, especially in the critical first few seconds when viewers decide whether to continue watching or not. The channel introductory video is the appropriate place for the channel owner to let people know about them and the channel without having it preamble every video.

Hey, YouTube!

Some suggestions to YouTube to help people manage their usage and experience.

Algorithm hell

YouTube's algorithm is very aggressive in feeding much more of whatever has been looked at.

YouTube, how about giving us a control to determine what level of manic we want in our feeds. Your algorithm is triggered into avalanche mode by the watching of one video, which actually detracts from wanting to incidentally watch something that might be a distraction, just because the feed will suddenly be filled with a myriad clones of it, as if our lives depended upon it.

Having a control for how many similar items, or a percentage, will appear in the feed would go a long way to control this excessive disruption. Some people may like manic overload, but many will appreciate not having their feed hijacked by a topic which was of only incidental interest. For people who want to use YouTube for more than just a lunchtime distraction, such a scattergun approach is rather immature. In Premium, we expect a better experience than this, and having such a facility may persuade more people to take it up.

Skip to markers

Videos can have markers that appear in the timeline as thin gaps.

These can be useful to know where a not-so-interesting subtopic ends. However, there appears to be no shortcut keys to skip forward or back between these markers, which would have been the obvious facility to provide in concert with them. We have such shortcut keys for skipping between videos in a mix, but none for what can be in every video. So YouTube, where's the shortcut keys for the markers?

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.

Why YouTube?

Why would people want to plant their face in front of others in the vain hope of being successful?

This section was prompted by the Break Bread video by F.D Signifier, where they discuss the difficulty of black people getting traction on YouTube, especially in relation to the group of white content creators known as breadtube, a potpourri of leftist long-form video-essay talking heads. It was well done, and so I do not have anything meaningful to add about it per se, but it did make me think about the deeper motivations people might have for creating content on YouTube.

YouTube is a Google property and for other than short-form video fluff, it is the only real game in town. For those who just like to publicise what they are doing with their hobby, it is the platform of choice. However, for many it represents an opportunity to break out of the hum-drum or stress-treadmill of working for someone else, and that ramps up their expectations of what they want out of their efforts considerably. While many who started earlier usually didn't start out with that intention, but with the gathering of subscribers, the money-source possibility seemed more real.

More recent creators have seen how lucrative it can be, and so started up with the expectation of it being their main source of income, even if the majority might actually come from their Patreon subscribers. Unfortunately, most will fail, not only because there is a lot of competition, but their talents will likely not be up to the task, as getting video presentations right requires a lot of skills. For many, the slow rate of gaining subscribers will not keep up with their expectations, and they will give up.

This sort of failure rate has its parallels with small businesses, where all those same reasons apply. However, YouTube is worse, because while normal small businesses can often limp along for a while because the commercial environment is usually regulated and supported by governments, YouTube is a law unto itself, and channels can be demonetised at a moment's notice or a change in the algorithms may rank a channel down. This is the downside of relying upon a single source of income. Any Patreon income is usually going to be tied to success on YouTube.

YouTube is generally best suited for extroverts, as there is a requirement of being willing to be the centre of attention. After all, it is basically an entertainment medium where most are skimming for interesting stuff to kill time with, so if not into being a performer, success is very unlikely. While writing might be more suited to introverts, there are limited opportunities for making a sufficient living out of it, even if it requires a much lower level of multi-skilling compared to video.

To be really successful on YouTube, the rate of content creation has to be fairly breakneck, which is why many are choosing content that is more ad-hoc, like reaction videos or live chat-streaming, rather than long-form video-essays that require a lot of time-consuming preparation. The chat format also promotes a higher degree of para-social dependency which increases subscription rates but often become fairly toxic.

If maintaining integrity is important, then consider not taking any form of sponsorship, as it will require compromising integrity. Sponsorships are subject to contract and those will generally have provisions about what can be said about the sponsor, whether they have a right to approve types of content, how often they have to be mentioned, and how long the arrangement will last. Such provisions will definitely affect the content, what topics are off-limits, and give the perception, if not actual, of partiality, all of which may negatively impact integrity. Ultimately, integrity can only be maintained if supported by a source of income that doesn't care about what content is created.

In all, YouTube may lead to worse mental outcomes than working a normal job. It is wise to have eyes wide open before starting a video career with high expectations. Perhaps treat it as a hobby from the start, taking the pressure off to be successful, taking time to hone skills doing content that provides a measure of satisfaction in itself, rather than a means to an end. Look at success as a bonus. That may mean working for someone else, but life might have a better and more fulfilling balance.

The question is really about how rich do we really have to be? Compared to many hobbies, making videos is not very expensive, so a high income may not be required, allowing working less and enjoying life more, by indulging in being creative for its own sake. We don't have to put ourselves on a stress-treadmill just to avoid another. Choose the balance that feeds both the body and mind.

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