After taking the time to look back at all my older posts and reflect on the site itself, I think the topic of this post is probably more relevant than I thought. Recently I temporarily lost the ability to comment on YouTube because several “enemies” of mine decided to flag all my comments as spam. While I cannot claim to know how Google’s algorithms handle this process, I suspect the disappearance of most of my comments as well as new ones I write is due to the following:
- I have been a prolific debater; in my most recent ongoing debate I once left fifty comments in less than an hour, which in turn took my opposition over three hours to reply to the next day. Typing at 65+ words per minute has it’s benefits I suppose.
- This kind of tenacity has made me the enemy of so many other users, to the point where some have left YouTube altogether. I suspect that several of them began an unannounced campaign to flag my comments. More on that in a later post.
I have spent a lot of time in quasi-flame wars with people on YouTube over various political issues – some important, others trivial. They range from things like the possibility of a private highway system to the state of Somalia versus pre-1991 conditions. Usually the topics are either really obscure, or they are subjects involving arguments that have been repeated for decades – if not centuries.
My first intention of establishing a presence on YouTube was to attract attention for my site. That would appear to be a pretty ironic justification at this point given that it led me to neglect this site. In fact, many of the previous posts on this blog were about my endless YouTube encounters. Spending that time relentlessly arguing has turned out to be a sunk cost that has cut into the quality of this site. I never even bothered to update the homepage for a year or so and make any attempt at improving it.
The second reason was probably more practical: I wanted to seek a diversity of opinion that I did not get when I attending college, and I wanted to seek out critical dialogue from any willing participants. Well, there is no doubt I have gotten plenty of both and I do think I have benefited. In particular, the most recent debate I had was probably one of the most thought-provoking debates I have ever had in my entire life. That is, until other users began marking my comments as spam.
But now even that justification seems to have lost merit. With one notable exception, all the debates I have read or engaged in have been repeats of the same bland arguments that are exhausted of any originality. Appeals to Somalia from both sides of the state/no state debate, short rants about how the US spends more than any other country on healthcare or that there are millions of uninsured people, claims that Blackwater in the war between the US and Iraqi governments should be blamed on the free market, accusations of selfishness from liberals because I object to them spending other people’s money as they see fit, etc.
Aside from the general lack of originality in the debates I have had there, I have found an even better way of achieving the same intended goal. Rather than seek the short rants of an average YouTuber, my time is better spent reading policy papers and opinion pieces from opposing camps. A while back I mentioned two articles that appeared in Slate that I was unimpressed with (and still have not given my critiques towards). To be honest those were of much greater quality than the average comments I tend to find on YouTube. Of course I disagreed with the content, but they sure did do a better job of presenting something coherent from an opposing perspective. Couple this with books from a wide variety of ideologies – many of which my YouTube opponents get their talking points from – and the case for using YouTube to see what the other side has to say gets vaporized.
Which brings me to my final reason for why I am breaking off from YouTube. My goal was to learn through debate, and that was supposed to serve the purpose of improving the content of both my future books, as well as the content of this blog. Instead, what has mostly come about from my endeavors is total neglect of the very things I promised myself I would work on.
The most striking example of this is the fact that State Exempt – the book I have been gathering notes for during the past few years – has been delayed in it’s completion. Last time I made a time estimate of how long it would take before the final draft’s completion I came to the conclusion that the book would not be done until 2015. That is a far stray from what I intended, but now that I have settled into new time constraints the outlook appears a bit more positive. Combine this with using the hour or so that I would normally spend commenting on various videos to instead work on the book itself.
With these two factors in play, I still estimate the release date for the book to be early 2015. But one key difference is that now I will have the chance to release drafts of the book itself in PDF form in order to receive feedback. The book will still come out much later than I originally planned, but the chance to perfect it more before it actually becomes available in physical form makes it all worthwhile.
So on this fourth of July, I wish to declare my independence from YouTube. The only use I have for it at this point is to watch and favorite videos, as well as network with like-minded people I have encountered on there so far. Other than that, all the tenacity I placed towards Youtube debates will now go towards this site – and more importantly – the book itself.
Only time will tell how big of an impact this change in time spent will have, but I can say that it will be a drastic improvement over what I have been doing so far…