Category Archives: Comments

# Views, % Integrity

2015_10_PeopleReached

The “# impressions” or “# views” meters next to tweets or Facebook posts can be a little intoxicating. It’s easy to get caught up in chasing that value, making it rise. It’s always right there, if you manage a Facebook page or use tools like Hootsuite. As if it’s all that matters in our digital world based on eyeball glances.

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“Well At Least They Allow Comments”

For a while now I’ve found the trite complaint of a closed YouTube comment section to be vapid. (Equally so the stale honor or praise of leaving it open.) But just today I took another step in my understanding of the issue.

When a comment section is closed, to a YouTube user, it feels like their only method of communication (or complaining, harassing, etc.) with the YouTuber has gone. That’s in part why it’s perceived as valuable. It’s the habitat they’re used to; it’s what they see as the clearest, most direct form of feedback.

And to a certain extent it certainly is. My Pavlovian response to a YouTube video ending is to scroll down. This is something I fight, because in the vast majority of comment sections, there is nothing of value below. It’s still the most immediate place to see responses, though.

YouTube comments for a long time have been treated as this “standard discussion forum” across the Internet, available around most videos online, when in fact its evidentiary purpose is for hurling shit and making jokes so lazy they’d make Reddit cringe. The comment box is ubiquitous on the Internet Locus For Viewing Moving Pictures, so it makes sense that it became the collective dumping ground. To see a space carved out to not be made messy (by closing comments) seems counter to the entirety of YouTube culture. PewDiePie crossed that line and quickly went back.

This YouTube culture is the same one that would bring the phrase “free speech” into the equation, even though YouTube is a company that can do whatever it wants with your comments, and comments are on another person’s channel who has full right to delete them or ban people for any reason. Comment spaces are only as free as its owner allows them to be, and they don’t Hate Freedom if they choose to curate more closely or close them altogether.

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One More Path to Atheism

About a year ago, some folks from CNN were interviewing and asking around atheist groups for stories and perspectives on life as nonbelievers and our experience. With the airing of “Atheists: Inside the World of Non-Believers”, which looks to be the end product of this work, and my response to the special after it aired last night, I thought I’d finally post my lengthy email response to their questions.

I had never written this part of my life down to its completion before, so it was really long for a relatively short series of questions. I kept going, though, for my own sake, so I could process through it all and have a recording of that. Now I’m thankful I’m able to share it with others. There are a lot of conversion and deconversion stories out there, some filled with much more pain, suffering, triumph, loss, and acceptance, but mine is quiet, without great strife, and this type of experience should be known, as well. If any part of this story provides someone comfort on their journey to self-discovery, it was worth taking up this space on the internet.

There’ll be some edits to make it fit better in public blog post form.

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How far the Thunderf00t has fallen

Thunderf00t, or Phil Mason, is a YouTube personality and former (?) member of the atheist/skeptical community. Years ago he made great science videos and responded to creationists with hard facts and copious snark. He took a hard right turn around 2012 when feminism and progressive ideas began being incorporated into the atheist/skeptical movement. Now that snark is aimed at causes I hold dear, so I see it for what it is.

I don’t know how I drop in on one of Thunderf00t’s videos so often. I argue with people a lot, so links to his content and channel are on my periphery occasionally. Maybe he shows up in recommended videos while I watch other YouTube videos. I know I sometimes venture on to his page to remember what disappointment and anger feel like.

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