Youtube, better than TV

I have made a few blogs arguing against the belief that traditional celebrities are inherently more talented than Youtubers. I mean, considering Youtubers started their careers by doing everything by themselves and they had to wait years for their efforts to pay off (assuming they will ever pay off), the belief is as preposterous as the so-called flat earth “theory”.

But, somehow, I didn’t think of one aspect of Youtube: how the content is presented to us, the consumers.

On TV, you cannot simply watch anything you want. The TV bosses are the ones who dictate on which shows to green-light, continue and cancel, which episodes to repeat or not repeat, which time the shows should air and which scenes to cut. Customers are not kings.

Admittedly, they are not kings on Youtube either. The trending pages are rigged and there are still content restrictions; in unfortunate circumstances, videos and even entire channels can be wrongfully taken down.

But, Youtube videos won’t be taken down simply for being unprofitable or niche. Considering literally everyone has the right to create content, almost every type of content imaginable is almost certainly present on the website. If you have niche interests or if you are a member of a marginalised community, you can definitely find videos which entertain or empower you.

Oh, and don’t forget you can actually pause, rewind and restart the videos and you don’t have to watch them immediately once they are up! Once they are there, you can watch them literally at any time you want… assuming they won’t be taken down, of course.

Even if you can attest to the inherent superiority of traditional celebrities, you have to acknowledge the temporal flexibility of digital platforms like Youtube; our pesky lists of obligations will never ruin our viewing experiences.

I know I am stating the obvious here. But, sadly, it is not obvious enough for everyone.

I still encounter (admittedly older) people who cannot comprehend that pausing and rewinding are a thing. They genuinely think TV and Youtube work the same way.

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Literacy increased, thanks to the internet

Media literacy, not literacy literacy. I cannot help but noticing how prevalent it is among Millennials and Gen Z, who are arguably the biggest internet consumers.

Okay, I am not saying that we are one hundred percent literate in the media. We are not. But, compared to the older generations -who consume the internet a lot less-, we are far less easily duped by internet content.

We are more reactive to clickbaits and we have great eyes for photoshopped images. We also can get belittling and even hostile towards ‘fakeness’.

Yes, my words are anecdotal. But, the generational disparity is hard to ignore and I had been noticing this for quite a while; I was even more convinced of its existence after watching a Danny Gonzalez video, in which he doctored his own photo to make himself look like someone else and his Instagram followers immediately knew it was photoshopped. He succeeded only after an impressively-meticulous planning.

(Note: I have to mention that the much younger internet consumers are also relatively gullible. But then, it has less about their internet experiences and more about having less developed brains.)

Personally I credit our relatively high media literacy to four factors:

1. The participatory nature of internet cultures

Unlike ‘traditional’ media, the digital one allows its consumers to be its content creators as well and many embrace the opportunity.

Inevitably, many internet consumers know the behind-the-scenes process of content creation; they have learned how to doctor images, edit videos, do sound design and write scripts and/or blogs.

2. The unintentionally educational nature of certain content

Some Youtubers I have watched love to make videos about having fun with photoshopping. Those who make commentaries constantly call out deceptiveness of online content creators; sometimes, even ‘traditional’ media is not free from their ‘wrath’.

Consequentially, many of their viewers will end up becoming more vigilant for doctored images and overtly-manipulative choices of words, video editing and sound design, even without any prior experiences in said activities.

If you are a Twosetviolin viewer (or one of a similar channel), you would probably be able to detect fake musical performances in films and TV shows, even without any prior experiences in musical performances.

3. The awareness about public personas

Youtube fans are becoming more cognisant about public personas.

They know how Youtubers behave on camera do not always represent their true selves and they have learned to differentiate the masks from the true faces. The fact that some Youtubers constantly switch personas in the same videos force viewers to be attentive of the behavioural changes.

Yes, idiots who easily fall for personas still exist. But, I notice their presence has waned for the past few years.

4. The embrace of irony and post-irony

I previously said that internet consumers can be hostile towards ‘fakeness’. Well, that is not entirely accurate.

‘Enjoying things ironically’ is a thing and online, it is very widespread. It is socially acceptable to enjoy things because they are aesthetically-bad and, consequentially, some content creators love making content that is meant to be enjoyed ironically.

Scripted vlogs are one of those ironically enjoyable things.

Vlogs are meant to be unscripted accounts of the Youtubers’ lives and any scripted moments easily stand out, thanks to their glaringly plastic quality. But, as long as the creators do not claim their works to be factual, the viewers will be able to enjoy the artificiality.

Post-ironic content is as popular as the ironic one, if not more. While it still involves irony, it also thrives to blur the lines between it and sincerity, forcing the viewers to work harder to separate the two.

I was introduced to the concept of post-irony by Youtuber Nerd City, who asserted that post-ironic aesthetic on Youtube was meant to defy the saccharine and overtly-manufactured one approved by the Youtube establishment. While I was never a fan of creators like Filthy Frank due to the borderline transgressive nature of their works, I cannot help myself from holding their rebellious intent in high esteem.

So…?

Obviously, you don’t have to turn future generations into internet addicts. Schools can simply start teaching basic communication and media skills.

The problem is I don’t know which specific skills that should be taught and how they can be integrated into existing curricula. I am also unsure about the necessity of theoretical media studies in this case.

Oh, and I doubt many will acknowledge the importance of media literacy. Persuasion is also an issue.

Two steps to recognise ‘fake news’

*puts on a mask*

Step 1: You have to be a member of a cult.

This step will be easy to overcome if one is either a deeply-bigoted individual who is desperate to find a leader to worship OR a deeply-impressionable individual who will easily fall for the rhetorics of dishonest and manipulative public figures. If you are both, it would be even easier for you!

If you are neither extremely prejudiced nor excessively impressionable, you will never be a cult member and you will never be enlightened enough to go to the next step.

Step 2: Just simply find, read and watch the news.

Once you have become a cult member, your mind will do the work for you.

Any news reports that intertwine with your and your cult leader’s beliefs will elicit strong emotions. If they bring you joy, the stories are real. If they bring you anger, they are false!

Yes, I believe the only way to determine a story’s accuracy is how positive or negative our emotions are!

Facts aren’t real because you cannot feel them. But, do you what is real? Emotions! Why? Because you can feel them! Determining what is real and what isn’t through the act feeling is common sense!

Don’t let those intellectuals poison your innocent minds with facts! Only privileged, ivory tower retards think facts are the truths! Humans who live in the real world know damn well emotions are the truths! They know emotions are their Gods!

Okay, I did say that you have to finish step one if you want to go to step two. Well, it is not entirely true.

Being bigoted and/or impressionable is enough to make you worship emotions. Obviously, you don’t need to be a cult member to accomplish step two. But, being one sure helps.

*takes off the mask*

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Your Name (and the true human bonding)

Just another of my very late film ‘review’.

Warning: while I won’t give details about the plot, this essay may still be a spoiler for you.

I don’t know how I ended up watching one of Makoto Shinkai’s works. I am not an avid fan of Japanese animation; most of the ones I have watched, like Doraemon and Ninja Hattori, were unavoidable in the first place as they were staples of Indonesia’s Sunday morning broadcast.

In fact, I don’t remember how I first heard about Your Name. Maybe it was the film poster in a cinema near my house and I was intrigued by its simplistic title and visually-conveyed ethereality. Maybe I was introduced to it by The Anime Man, whom I watch solely for his sarcasm and his ways of breaking down storytelling. Either way, it lingered in my mind for some time before I decided to watch it… and I am glad I did!

Visually, it is a very pretty animation! The animators made sure that even the backdrops are being held to a high aesthetic standard. But then, this is my first Makoto Shinkai’s work; I don’t know if this is a trademark of his. The beauty, while deeply appreciated, is not unforeseeable. The poster easily gave it away.

The story’s complexity, on the other hand, was surprising to me. The fairly intricate metaphysicas is not something one expects from one of the most highest-grossing traditionally-animated films, Japanese animated films and non-Anglophone films of all time. Maybe it’s like Life of Pi all over again, where the audience was too fixated on the visuals and ignoring the subject matters altogether.

Or maybe, they are smitten by how the film conveys emotions to the point where they become personally affected themselves. At least, that’s the case with me.

Because of it, I became an emotional wreck for days; one of the other times I fell into such bad shape was the first time I watched Jacksepticeye’s A Beginner’s Guide playthrough. I have had my share of emotional arts and entertainment works and yet not even the masterly creations of the likes of Bergman and Tarkovsky trigger a surge of neurochemicals in me.

One may go to a conclusion that Makoto Shinkai is an EQ genius who experience feelings like no other! Bergman, Tarkovsky and the rest of mankind should learn from him if they want to become more emotionally-intelligent human beings!

Obviously, what I just said was stupid. He may possess a high EQ. But, I doubt his is the highest ever. One thing I am certain about is his masterfully immersive storytelling, seamlessly taking us the characters’ extramundane world. But still, that explanation feels unsatisfactory for me.

For me (and presumably some people), the answer is a lot simpler. While immersiveness is indeed a factor for the sense of intimacy, it is not the be-all and end-all. Ultimately, the characters must be relatable to you.

Your Name chronicles the lives of two teenagers living in two different places and time who switch bodies. While the relationship was initially hostile, they end up seeing each other as their other halves whom they cannot imagine live without. Their bond is so strong, they still possess a sense of inexplicable longing after losing any pertinent memories. Years later, when they finally meet face-to-face, they quickly form a bond without remembering each other’s names. That facet of the characters’ life is very relatable to me.

Unless you – a nasty person that only exist in my head – are dumb enough to take the story literally and are accusing me of living a fantasy life or you are unaware of the age we are living in, there is a (small) chance you will understand why the film is personal to me: the internet.

Since I became active on Facebook, I started to have lots deep interactions with my fellow human beings. In fact, I met my first real best friends on the site! I can interact with them for hours and hours and I will never get bored by the wonderfully genuine human connections!

To make it even more delightful, almost all of my interactions involve internet users whose homelands are distinct from mine. I can form bonds with human beings in spite of their distinct environments, in spite of the terrestrially great distances, in spite of them living in very different time zones!

Of course, the reactionaries will fiercely disagree with me. They believe social interactions inherently require corporeal presence. For them, the lack of corporeal presence instantly invalidates every single reciprocity that has occured, no matter how genuine they are. Any person who possesses an open-mind will easily recognise how retarded such mentality is.

Let’s dissect the term ‘social interaction’. ‘Social’ means anything related to ‘society’, it is derived from the Latin word ‘socius’ which means ‘allied’ (I think). ‘Interaction’ is derived from ‘inter’ and ‘action’; basically, it is an action that directly influences every party involved.

If one lives in a mostly analogue world, one could be forgiven for still retaining such mentality. Of course, that world has become the past! Our lives have been heavily influenced by digitalisation. The gravity of social media today is comparable to the gravity of sexual repression in Indonesia.

Surely, after witnessing one of the great alteration of human foundations, the long-established meanings of ‘social’, society’, ‘interaction’ and ‘friends’ have inevitably become obsolete. So, sooner or later, we have to rethink the way we decipher them. For me, it sounds more reasonable than acting like grumpy, soon-to-die dinosaurs who hate how prejudice is no longer cool.

No, I am not dismissing the importance of offline relationships. Humans (still) live in an earthly realm. I (grudgingly) acknowledge that humanity cannot exist without physical contacts. Even if we don’t care about having friends and partners, we still need to buy groceries, to study, to work. Internet hermits like me need to go offline from time to time if we want to sustain ourselves.

But, traditionalists also have to acknowledge the strengths of online interaction. The cyber space gives us the freedom to be free from intrusiveness and toxicity, eases our efforts to search for like-minded individuals and, in spite of our current circumstances, still provides us the platform to meet anyone, no matter what their upbringings are and no matter where they live! Like it or not, ‘traditional’ interactions lack any of those advantages!

Now, about the quality of relationships: how does one determine it? Well, I believe emotional mutualism (I don’t know if it’s a real term) and sincerity are crucial determinants (people-pleasers will disapprove of the latter). While they are obviously my personal touchstones, I am confident some will agree with mine. And yes, I can say my Facebook friendships fulfill the requirements!

My interaction with fellow homo sapiens is frequently laced with deceit, vanity and unyielding distaste of liberty. But, thanks to the benefits I mentioned two paragraphs ago, they occur significantly far less in my internet social circle. Based on my anecdotes (as that’s the only thing I can provide), not only online relationships can be as good as the offline ones, they have the prospect to be even better!

I believe that’s the reason why I find Your Name very personal. No, I don’t think the story is a deliberate allegory of our digitalised world. But, the tale of a human bonding that transcends space and time will surely have an impact on someone whose personal relationships are almost entirely established in the cyber world.

I can’t say anything about other people who have watched it. How many of them were emotionally affected by the watching experience? For those who were, why? If the reason had nothing to do with human bonding, I genuinely would like to know what that reason is.

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How to report Youtube culture as a ‘journalist’?

*puts on a mask*

The first thing you do is to embrace a reactionary mindset. Youtube culture is very young and new; therefore, anything that possess at least one of those adjectives must be dealt with utmost disrespect and dishonesty. Obviously, those two sentences should be enough to be your starting points. But, I need to be more detailed with this.

If you are being entirely truthful, you would make Youtubers in a very good light. Why? Because, unlike most traditional media people, they have to work harder. When they started doing Youtube, their careers didn’t immediately take off; on average, it takes five years for them to finally make a living out of the website. Not to mention they also had to learn how to be the host, director, cinematographer, editor, scriptwriter and graphic designer all at the same time and they can delegate those roles only after they can afford to do so!

So, you have to ignore all of those aspects and focus entirely on their supposedly ‘incomprehensible’ and ‘nonsensical’ popularity. That way, those Youtubers will appear like kids who achieve easy fame and fortune by simply making pointless videos from their bedrooms.

When talking about their videos, emphasise on the ones that showcase nothing but simple and escapist fun. Never mention the more heartfelt videos that even many mainstream Youtubers have made. Never mention that some Youtubers solely make educational videos! In the end, ‘traditional’ entertainment will look like the one with high quality when everyone knows it is far from the truth.

Oh, and don’t forget to take everything out of context. You have to portray every joke, including the dark ones (especially the dark ones) as expressions of seriousness. When they make serious statements that are laced with reason and morality, you should chop some of their words to make them sound like the villains and their actually villainous opponents look like the victims!

But, you are a journalist. In the end, you should be objective. What should you do if you don’t want to appear entirely antagonistic? Well, you have to remember what your parents told you: money is everything!

Focus on how much money they make. Even if you don’t know the exact number as Youtubers aren’t allowed to disclose their earnings, act like you know the exact number! Every time you don’t have anything good to say about them, just be obsessive about their wealth to the point where you act like you deserve the money more than those Youtubers do!

Oh, and never ever talk about the amount of money they have raised for charity. Your audience is mostly a bunch of selfish, money-obsessed individuals. They will never be interested in wealthy and charitable public figures. They are only interested in the ones who wear greed and selfishness as their badges of pride!

I hope you understand the basics of Youtube culture journalism. If you want to see great examples of it, you can watch and read media outlets’ reportage of Pewdiepie.

I know people have said this before: I believe Wall Street Journal is the best when it comes to reporting the biggest name on Youtube.

*takes off the mask*

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Flatulent musing: does the information in data storage operate its own metaphysical anatomy?

(LOL at the title! As if I have never done such thing before…)

Going straight to the point, the answer is: yes, it does.

When I say data storage, I am alluding to any entities that store information. Paper, wood, stone, magnetic tapes, optic discs, flash memories, anything! When I say ‘information’, I am alluding to not only numerical data and objective facts, but also hypotheses, lies, emotions and even fictional worldbuilding!

If the ‘info’ does not confine itself to a definite time, space or mindset, then I think its actuality is solely corporeal; its size is strictly limited by the tangible containment. But, if given its own temporal, spatial and contexts, the ‘info’ may also belong to an entirely metaphysical realm; its size is unaffected by the size of the containment.

What counts as temporally, spatially and mentally unspecific ‘info’? For me, it includes mathematical formulas, empirical facts, trivial opinions and theories. ‘Clear sky is blue’ irrefutably counts as an empirical fact. ‘Blue cheese is disgusting’ irrefutably counts a trivial opinion. What about theories? Aren’t they just theories?

Contrary to popular belief, a theory is not a speculation. In natural sciences, it is an elucidation of natural phenomena which has gone through a multitude of rigorous scientific scrutinies. In social sciences and humanities, it is a mindfully-constructed paradigm that bequeaths us a frame of reference about human phenomena which intangibility hinder us from definitively deciphering them. Just like mathematical formulas, they are the foundations of human knowledge. Timeless and unbounded by fixed settings.

Now, what counts as temporally, spatially and mentally specific ‘info’? For me, it includes conjectures, hypotheses, histories, memories and fictional worldbuilding.

Even though they look indistinguishable on the surface, hypotheses and conjectures are actually distinct from one another. The former are well-thought-out, based on some evidences, used to commence further enquiries and, ideally, free from biases. The latter, on the other hand, are entirely affected by personal biases and often senselessly treated as absolute closures.

Both, however, are similar in that they take aim at natural and human phenomena which are always time and space specific. But, considering how hypotheses are integral aspects of knowledge exploration, they have a place in the physical and metaphysical worlds. As conjectures are not concerned about amplifying our horizons, they only belong in the metaphysical world.

I put histories in this category because not only they are bound by time and space, they are also influenced by how historians and so-called historians interpret the evidences. Whether the interpretations are sound or shamelessly one-sided, they are inherently influenced by our ways of thinking.

I am not sure how I should categorise numerical data, falsehood and emotions. Numerical data, despite being mathematical, is also bound to specific time and places. Falsehood and emotions, despite being intangible, are directly affected by how we perceive reality.

Okay, I know I sound inconsistent this whole time. I keep claiming how ‘infos’ that are not restricted by space cannot be metaphysical. Basically, I sound like I am making an antithesis to my own (so-called) hypothesis. I may as well claim cheese is not dairy because its main ingredient is milk.

Of course, I have to remind you, dear non-existing readers, and myself, a forgetful pseudo-intellectual, that my absurd postulation is comprehensible in the context of data storage. That is the main source of pretentiousness here and I keep stalling from talking about it. Now, I will discuss it by using examples:

Example 1

Let’s imagine you have one thick book and one small flash drive. The book is the complete issue of War and Peace while the drive has the digital copy of the entire novel. Obviously, one is physically bigger than the other. But, metaphysically, they are of similar dimension.

The novel itself contains a world of its own. It portrays the 1812 French invasion of Russia through the author’s own perspective (who interacted with the people who actually lived through it), it is loaded with philosophical discussions and it has hundreds of characters, each has the ability to his/her unique individual sub-story. It is one gigantic metaphysical world to offer.

A physical book needs over a thousand pages to chronicle the story. A digital copy can be saved inside a digital storage slightly bigger than a medicinal capsule. It shows no matter how big it is, if the technology is adequate, it can fit into even the smallest storage.

Example 2

Now, imagine we have two sheets of A4 paper. Obviously, it is impossible to determine which is physically bigger. But, we can determine which one is metaphysically so.

If one sheet contains nothing but mathematical formulas and the other contains a statistical study, the latter is obviously bigger. Mathematical formulas’ universality do not make them solely attached to certain worldly occurences and therefore, they do not bring any metaphysicality with them.

Every statistical study is inevitably attached to the specific occurrences each of them is established from. Everywhere they go, those studies bear incorporeality that represents those occurrences. If each statistical study covers one million lives, then one sheet paper that contains the study has bigger metaphysicality than a million sheets of C1 papers that offer nothing but formulas. Oh, and don’t forget the possible biases of the researchers who probably skew their samples.

Even when two ‘info’s have comparable physical weights, the density of their content makes their metaphysical weights drastically differ from one another.

Example 3

It is similar to the previous one. Yes, there are more. Just grin and bear it.

You are holding one of your school year books (just pretend I know the typical content of year books). It includes one class photo that features you, your classmates and one of your teachers and thirty of individual photos of each student. The class photo has more metaphysical weight than all of those individual student photos combined.

Those thirty photos represent thirty stories, one for each student. That one class photo represents more than thirty one. Besides the ones from individual students and the teacher, we should account stories of interpersonal relationships of its occupants.

By himself/herself, the teacher adds thirty interpersonal stories; I mean, he/she is the teacher. Then, assuming each student interacts with at least one classmate, they add thirty more. So far, the photo already has ninety-one possible stories.

Even some loners such as myself were able to interact with at least three classmates in each class. Obviously, most students in the photo would interact with more than three. It is conceivable the number of interpersonal stories may surpasses nine hundreds.

Oh, and I am grossly incompetent in mathematics. In all likelihood, your own calculation is more precise than mine.

Example 4

Just imagine there are one relief, one painting and one photograph in front of you. Each depicts a city’s bustling daily life. Which one has the biggest metaphysics? The answer is it can be all three. Each represents the creator’s personal bias about the city.

But, sculptures and paintings depict their subjects decoratively, unlike photographs which depict theirs in a true to life manner. Shouldn’t that mean photographs don’t have strong metaphysics? Well, they do have it if they are shot artistically.

Just like sculptors and painters, art photographers also have methodical, creative processes and clear visions about what their works should be about. They determine the camera angles, the lighting and the colour palettes. In the end, artistic photographs are also deliberately created to suit their creators’ biases. If the photographers are not artistic, then it is a different story.

Considering how casual photographers’ sole agenda is to capture the moments, the resulting photos only exhibit real life stories. They are devoid of any deliberately-placed slants. They don’t have biases to strengthen the metaphysics.

Example 5

Let’s just say I have two flash drives. One is filled with two of my best college papers: one is for an Indonesian studies class and the other is for a philosophy one. The other drive is filled with personal, pontificating writings AKA most my blogs which there are over a hundred of them. Which drive possesses the bigger metaphysicality? It is the one with my college papers in it.

My college papers obviously discuss about real life issues. But, both are also studied through contemplative lenses. The thing about academic philosophical analyses is not only I have to propose well-reasoned, consistent and concise thoughts, I also have to take other individuals’ thinking in consideration, especially ones published in academic journals; if I know what I am doing, they can prove my thoughts’ intellectual validity.

A large chunk of my Indonesian studies paper, which discusses the collective mentality of Indonesian Muslims, is a critique of a published scholarly article which conclusions I fervently disagree with. While I commend his denouncement of extremism, I also condemn the author (such a harsh word, I know) for his black-and-white taxonomy of Indonesian Muslims and his anti-liberalism apologetics. This paper of mine contains the thoughts of not one but two individuals.

My philosophy paper has even a bigger metaphysicality. It discusses the pros and cons of refugees acceptance. Again, besides containing my thoughts, the paper also includes the thoughts of other individuals, seven to be exact; they consist of two media scholars, one sociologist, one moral philosopher and three ethicists who have interest ‘global ethics’. Their sound contributions to the discussions have the potentials to be the solutions for said crisis.

In total, those two papers alone represent the minds of nine different individuals. My tirading essays, on the other hand, only represent the mind of one single person. They are only concerned about manifesting my thoughts and feelings, unconcerned about others’ in fear theirs will be deviant against mine.

In the end, my college papers have wider metaphysical horizons than all of my personal essays combined.

Conclusion?

Well, not only I am far from ready to be a scholar, I am certain I have made every person who read this article in its entirety ends up hating certain words like ‘metaphysics’, ‘metaphysical’, ‘info’ and ‘thoughts’.

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