PST is an essayist whose series is still young. The works are meticulously argued, and thorough enjoyable for their acerbic wit. Here’s one she did on the motivations of the “YouTube Pundit” genre of vlogging:
The exasperation of the debunker presents as a study in contrast to the giddy self-importance of the YouTube Guru (who may themselves have begun this theatre of the absurd as a pseudo-debunker); Incredulous of the absurdity of the situation they now find themselves in, they also, unfortunately, realize they are one of a precious few people who are adequately equipped to untangle the mess that was gleefully dumped onto YouTube. Again.
The increasing prevalence of this situation is linked to the increasing popularity of a specific attitude — derisive, dismissive, and disingenuous — that has come into fashion over the last decade. It may be funny to think of attitudes as being subject to fashion trends, but it’s pretty obvious this is the case if you spend any length of time watching the various YouTube authorities and Gurus, particularly the ones who prefer to have every position with which they align themselves prefixed by “anti-”.
It is fashionable to LARP intellectual authority, even when it is clearly absurd for the person in question to have a reasonable claim to the title (at least on the topic proposed).
The basic drama of the LARPing performance also includes a crowd participation element — a kind of Greek chorus LARPed by the audience in the comment section — and the formula for the whole production is as follows:
The YouTube Guru has a video published of them haranguing on some topic/person/entire discipline that is presently fashionable to harangue (aka “cool” aka delicious internet points). The video might be an upload from the Guru, or might be uploaded by a curating channel. In either case, they have been posted on YouTube with a trendy title, which, at the time of the writing of this essay, is: “_____________ DESTROYED!!!”
Through the video, the Guru passes their pre-digested bits of nonsense down to the baby birds in the comment section, who chirp with delight at their imagined relationship and resemblance to the hero of the hour (doomed to falling out of favor as fashion changes, but for now, the “thumbs up” button is being tapped more than an excellent yo mama joke I could make right here).
The comment section occasionally includes something nominally reminiscent of debate, where fledgling birdbrains try their hand at further regurgitation of nonsense, or perhaps even jumping off an intellectual cliff entirely. “Dumpster fire” is a popular descriptor of comment sections for this reason, but there is at least a sense of belonging in the circle jerk flight patterns, a sense of family; the excitement of attending the daily reunion of All The Very Clever People.
This flavor of YouTube content (though it is an acquired taste, as the uninitiated readily observe) is apparently a very seductive treat — although, I think, seductive only when someone has been starved so completely of intellectual nutrients that any nugget even resembling wisdom is not only palatable, but seems downright profound.
Read more about it here.
Yeah, I’ve been feeling like there’s a wave of strawmanning washing over the current ideolgical talks, people who chide fiminists/feminism are usually talking about “slut” walks and period marches and how “third wave” and “modern” feminism sucks which is why they’re against it. I always end up perplexed as to how any of those SJW1!1! things turn you away from an entire ideological study but it’s quite clear that they don’t want to challenge their preconceived notions and biases and are moreso into handwaving anything that requires introspection.
It goes hand in hand with the ridiculous apathy they have to to trump, they passively support the plunker as he voices and practices the same shallow behaviour they partake in.
I also barely follow anyone on utube for that “dumpster fire” culture of low moderation that permeates any kind of progressive discussion. Plus I’m tired of sensationalist titles.
Marcus Ranum says
I got a chuckle out of the “like button being tapped more than yo mama” reference. I must be part of an echo chamber because I also dislike youtube punditry.
The only reason critical responses actually get anywhere on this blog is because I’m moderating heavily. Imagine trying to discuss misgivings about the structure of a research paper while your conversation partner goes “lol gas chamber.” Srsly.