I think as long as there’s been instant messaging in any capacity, there’s been some jerk who thinks they can say whatever they want. I’m not kidding either, I suspect there were some real assholes with morse-code machines back in the day.
Today’s drama is non-GW related so you can put down your “But you said you were done with this!” pitchforks. However there is a common factor in the theme of my posts as of late and it is Social Media. In this case, YouTube and Reddit – please take the stand.
Lately, I’ve been on a bit of a William Osman YouTube kick. I’ve seen his YouTube channel off and on over the years but lately I’ve really dug deep into the archives and watched what some may say is an obsessive amount of William Osman (and William Osman-esque) videos. Disclaimer: I’m not obsessed with William himself, I just enjoy quirky science. (If you haven’t seen the Vin Diesel ham & cheese laser-cut bust, I highly recommend it) While I don’t always “get” the channel, I always laugh at least once at his antics; which is what I think he’s really going for. It’s certainly not a ‘let me teach you how to science’ channel, I think it’s more of a “science can be fun” channel. (It’s worth mentioning that actual science is being done here, it’s just more spontaneous than other science-based YouTube channels)
Anyway, if you are unfamiliar with any of this, let me catch you up to speed. William Osman built an x-ray machine in his garage out of spare parts, things purchased on eBay, and soup cans. YouTube didn’t like this (or more accurately, the trolls who hang out on YouTube) and they called him out on it. Hard. So much in fact that he had to release a follow-up video addressing the trolls. Yesterday, he released another follow-up video talking about how exhausted and frustrated he has been with YouTube lately, and how negative comments from 1% of his viewer base are taking a real toll on him. He also called out the /r/williamosman subreddit for the same.
And you know what – I agree with him wholeheartedly. I’m old enough and have been online long enough to have seen more than a few videos just like this one. It’s always the same, a content creator puts themselves out there and the internet just craps all over them. When I worked at a call center we used to call these anonymous trolls “telephone tough guys” and it’s true for people who hide behind the anonymity of their keyboard and do the same. And it’s frustrating to watch and be a part of. You want to do something but you can’t, because one of the first rules of the Internet is “don’t feed the trolls”.
One of the things that stuck with me about William’s video is during the wrap-up he discusses how relatability creates success, and success kills relatability. And he’s not wrong. It caused me to take a step back and really think about the way I personally feel about some content creators. I can think of one YouTube chef in particular who I’ve stopped watching because their channel got too big, they created a nice fancy professional studio, and released a book with celebrity endorsements. It didn’t have the same vibe as when I started watching so I simply stopped watching. I’ve stopped reading a certain webcomic because once it got big enough to start its own gaming expo, it just didn’t feel the same.
I’m not saying what either of these creators did was wrong – if you can release a celebrity endorsed book, or start a gaming expo – go for it! But as a content consumer I can also choose to not partake. The difference between me and the trolls is I don’t take to the comments section to call them out on their choices or changes. I just changed the channel.
And I think that’s really the only thing we can do here. If you don’t like the content, don’t participate. Plain and simple. Unless someone specifically polls the audience saying “what do you want me to do next?”, just sit back and enjoy the show. Or change the channel. And whatever you do, don’t feed the trolls.
Edit: This edit just validates the concern in William’s latest video. I don’t have an audience, but I’m still worried about people calling me out on my comments here. For the record: I’m not saying actual constructive criticism is bad. I’m not saying if someone’s channel or content “gets too big” to cancel them. What I AM saying is “if you have nothing nice to say don’t say anything”, which sounds like advice for a child but I think it can safely apply to everyone. In the wise words of Bill and Ted, “Be excellent to each other”.