Back in the old days, the internet was full of kooks: there was the timecube guy, and Archimedes Plutonium, and Robert McElwaine (
UN-altered REPRODUCTION and DISSEMINATION of this IMPORTANT information is ENCOURAGED), and the Velikovskiites, and a host of other strange folk, and that was fine. The weirdos spiced things up, and besides, their followings consisted mostly of people laughing at them. The most troubling thing now is not that there are oddballs, but that there are huge mobs of people following and agreeing with them, and amplifying their message to an absurd degree. Alex Jones would have been a classic Usenet crank, for instance, ridiculed and mocked, but now? He’s raking in the dough and is advising the president.
A Buzzfeed article pins much of the blame for that on one outlet, YouTube.
The entire contemporary conspiracy-industrial complex of internet investigation and social media promulgation, which has become a defining feature of media and politics in the Trump era, would be a very small fraction of itself without YouTube. Yes, the site most people associate with “Gangnam Style,” pirated music, and compilations of dachshunds sneezing is also the central content engine of the unruliest segments of the ascendant right-wing internet, and sometimes its enabler.
To wit, the conspiracy-news internet’s biggest stars, some of whom now enjoy New Yorker profiles and presidential influence, largely live on YouTube — some of them on the site’s news channel. Infowars — whose founder and host, Alex Jones, claims Sandy Hook didn’t happen, Michelle Obama is a man, and 9/11 was an inside job — broadcasts to 2 million subscribers on YouTube. So does Michael “Gorilla Mindset” Cernovich. So too do a whole genre of lesser-known but still wildly popular YouTubers, people like Seaman and Stefan Molyneux (an Irishman closely associated with the popular “Truth About” format). As do a related breed of prolific political-correctness watchdogs like Paul Joseph Watson and Sargon of Akkad (real name: Carl Benjamin), whose videos focus on the supposed hypocrisies of modern liberal culture and the ways they leave Western democracy open to a hostile Islamic takeover. As do a related group of conspiratorial white-identity vloggers like Red Ice TV, which regularly hosts neo-Nazis in its videos.
We’ve long known how awful YouTube commenters are — in general, comment threads there are a nightmare of alt-right freaks, indignant misogynists, racists, and fanatical consumers of niche media. There is virtually no accountability in YouTube comments, and it has become another outpost of the 4chan mentality. And further, as mentioned above, flaming lunatics thrive as media personalities on it, because they gladly affirm prejudice and bigotry and often, bizarre Libertarian views. I’d heard of several of the people mentioned, but had never encountered one, Davd Seaman, who is featured in the article, so I had to look him up.
I watched one video by Seaman.
I could take no more. Here it is:
Seaman is a prominent #pizzagate conspiracy theorist — you know, the unbelievable, batshit stupid idea that there is a secret child molestation conspiracy ring run by major Democratic figures out of a basement lair in a specific pizza parlor that has no basement. These are the kinds of guys who wax wroth at the outrage of innocent, imaginary (they can never name any of the victims) children being sexually abused, while simultaneously insisting that the Sandy Hook murders were a false flag operation, and all the innocent, named children were actors.
In the above video, Seaman also goes on and on about Bitcoin and gold-based currencies. None of what he says is backed up by reason or evidence, but only by his stridently held opinions. He has a following, though: take a look at the comments on the Buzzfeed article. They are eye-opening. There are lots of angry people who are convinced that Alex Jones and David Seaman are telling the Truth.
In a world full of clowns, Bozo is king, and it looks like YouTube is the media of choice for gullible fools.
Oh, I forgot! One thing he claimed, bizarrely, was that the recent announcement about possible habitable planets was a distraction to keep people from hammering John Podesta about his imaginary pedophilia. It wasn’t just NASA conspiring to snow us all, he said there was also the recent discovery of an alien artifact in Antarctica.
Say what? Did you hear anything about an alien artifact. I hadn’t. The only thing I could find was an unbelievable crackpot story about Visit to Antarctica Confirms Discovery of Flash Frozen Alien Civilization. No, this wasn’t news. No, it isn’t distracting anyone. Apparently, we’re at the stage where cranks are complaining about other cranks stealing their thunder.