So something’s been eating at me quite a bit lately, and maybe it will be cathartic to write it down, because I haven’t really had the urge to bring it up at a dinner conversation or anything but there are some things that you have to get out somehow.
It’s about anti-SJWs and anti-anti-SJWs.
It’s about how certain social media has had an effect on my mental health. The common thing talked about is how everyone appears happier than they actually are, and that makes you depressed – but I’ve known about that for a long time so it doesn’t really affect me anymore. What has affected me very negatively is the crap that people spew out on certain “issues.” Maybe this is genetic because I frequently hear my dad ranting about climate change deniers on Facebook that he for some reason argues with, and stuff like that. Or more likely this is something that bothers a lot of people and I’m just another person who gets affected by it.
I, for some reason, go on YouTube a lot, even though if the past year has been any indication, it usually just makes me miserable. But this anger and misery, as it turns out, is addicting! I suddenly remembered who actually articulated this idea, and that was the guy who wrote “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck.” So credit to him where it’s due, because it’s absolutely true. I’ve always had this morbid curiosity whenever I see the thumbnail for a video which is obviously 100% garbage. Something possesses me to click it. Then I watch the video, get angry at how horrible their opinion is, then scroll down to comments, see that somehow everybody agrees with their horrible opinion, then get more angry! Then it happens again with another video. What I found due to this phenomenon was that eventually my YouTube recommendation algorithm became infested with primarily complete garbage because those are the videos that I tended to click on.
Besides the “anger is addicting” thing, another semi-subconscious justification I had for continuing to click on these videos was the idea that it’s important to see other points of view. Now, I’ll stand by that in theory, it is a pretty good idea to entertain schools of thought other than your own to get new perspectives. Nothing very outlandish there. But in retrospect, while I like to think that this experience as a whole has made me grow to some extent, the ideas that I chose to explore did not. They consisted of basically nothing but a bunch of sophistry (I was so glad to learn that there’s a word for that!). And I intuitively KNEW that yet still explored them. So I have to admit that, in isolation, my decision to explore these ideas was a mistake. I’ve found that there’s very little value to be gained from exploring a viewpoint full of sophistry, other than better understanding and recognizing sophistry itself.
In general these videos expressed conservative views, most of which I am opposed to. Disclaimer, obviously I don’t think all arguments for conservative views contain nothing but sophistry, just the majority of what I personally saw. I’m sure if I chose a medium other than fucking YouTube it wouldn’t have been nearly as prevalent.
More specifically, they commonly fell into the genre of “anti-sjw.” Some were commentary channels talking about other videos in a negative light, some were guys going to college campuses to debate college kids, etc. They basically all had the common theme of trying to making the left look as bad as possible. Every time I went down this rabbit hole of watching videos and reading comments, I would feel like I was in such a dark place. All of the thoughts expressed were so incredibly negative and nasty. I’ve always known that these circles of the internet exist, but it was so depressing to explore them first-hand. To witness how so many people think like that and are seemingly so devoid of compassion felt awful.
A big issue I struggled with was that I knew in my heart that so much of what these people were saying was dishonest in various ways, but I was often having trouble articulating why. If you know something your heart but not in your mind, well, it’s hard to trust yourself sometimes. This was doubly troubling for me because it is such a common assertion on the right that “facts and logic” are on their side, and that the left doesn’t actually know how to think.
At the same timeframe as I was watching cancerous anti-sjw videos and being miserable, I also happened to start going down another rabbit hole which was listening to debates on one or two largely non political topics. This made me less angry than the other thing, and was actually pretty informative. Usually at least one of the two debaters was quite intelligent, and was quick to call the other person out on various fallacies. I like to think that watching these debates started to get the ball rolling for me in terms of being able to recognize when and how people are being disingenuous when making arguments.
But still, up until this point I still felt largely alone in my sentiments; once you’ve fucked your YouTube algorithm with anti-sjw cancer, you will not really ever run into anything challenging those views unless you look for it. And I didn’t look for it for some reason.
But somehow, miraculously, I finally stumbled upon some stuff that I am so, so grateful for. There are a couple of channels that helped pull me out of this horrible and largely self-inflicted torment. The two main ones are ContraPoints and Destiny. ContraPoints’ channel’s primary purpose seems to be making video essays that counter the really shitty anti-feminist views that are so prevalent on YouTube, and Destiny does a similar thing except his thing is mainly debating, which he is really really good at!
These channels managed to take what I felt about these ideas in my heart and actually articulate beyond surface level obviousness exactly what is wrong with them. And that was such a relief to me. On both of these channels I would look at the comments, and I would see stuff like “so glad I found your channel because I used to be in a bitter anti-sjw phase and your videos helped pull me out of it.” When I saw stuff like that I thought to myself, holy shit thank god, I’m on planet earth again. Comments like those just go to show how important this genre of videos are.
What’s kind of sad is, to my knowledge, ContraPoints is the most popular channel like that, and she only has like 300k subscribers. Meanwhile there are dozens and dozens of edgelord anti-feminist channels with at least that many subscribers. It makes me really upset that the internet is so saturated with garbage.
Maybe it’s mainly the age demographics of YouTube – more people like to make “conservative” content because most people who watch YouTube are impressionable kids/teenagers who are likely to take your awful opinion at face value. And I think that in principle, progressive ideas are harder to take at face value, because they’re by definition against the status quo. So therefore.. kids are more likely to believe insufferable conservatives on the internet, and then they turn into insufferable conservatives themselves, making social progress all the more difficult. Seems like a really shitty situation. I have no idea if that’s why, just an idea, there’s probably multiple reasons. But regardless, I guess social progress is really difficult and really gradual if history tells us anything.
Anyway… In conclusion most of YouTube is garbage and it makes me upset, and for the sake of my mental health I probably should and will try to stop going on there. But I’m glad to learn that there exists a movement that is directly challenging the movement against social progress, instead of solely a movement advocating for social progress if that makes sense, because it seems to be really needed at this point.