watching contrapoints brought me back to a dark place
A friend of mine has been telling me about BreadTube recently. Briefly, it's a catch-all term for YouTubers making videos where they discuss social, moral, cultural, and political topics with a very strong leftist point of view.
One of the best-known creators in this space is Natalie Wynn, who posts video essays on a channel called ContraPoints. This is not where I started learning about her, however; instead, I clicked through to HealthyGamerGG because I remembered seeing her name pop up in one of Dr. K's interviews. I like to start on familiar ground; knowing the style of Dr. K's interviews, I could get a sense for who Natalie is before watching her content proper. This was a good call, as I really enjoyed the two-hour-long exchange between them. It actually got me really excited to watch Natalie's videos.
What she posts to YouTube are not quick 5 minute surface-level clickbait traps riddled with ads, on the contrary. I specifically called them video essays earlier because they are quite often longer than an hour, very well-researched and presented (she used to be a PhD student in philosophy, after all), and tackle difficult or complicated topics.
When ContraPoints came up in the conversation with my friend, we were actually discussing cancel culture, so naturally he told me to watch her video aptly titled Canceling, which I did today. It starts of with a retelling of the canceling of James Charles that was prompted by a Tati WestBrook call out in one of her videos. I couldn't tell you what comes next, because that's where I stopped watching.
This video made me realize something about myself, and not because of its subject matter. While Wynn was explaining what happened to James Charles, she kept bringing up the online brigading that ensued, because of course that happened. This is the Internet we're talking about. And that's when I had to stop watching. Hearing about the social media discourse that followed Tati's accusations was enough to bring me back to where I was mentally when I deleted my social media accounts a couple of years ago. It made me realize how much calmer and devoid of drama my life has been ever since then, and how obviously problematic the online hivemind is when you take a step back to look at it. I would equate this sensation to watching Sunday Night Football when you haven't had a television cable subscription for a few years: it feels like an assault. In the latter case, you are violently assaulted by ad breaks, and in the former, by social media comments. In both cases, it can rapidly fill you with rage. I cannot put into words how much I do not miss the off the cuff armchair analysis of society on social media. Being brought back to that dark place angered me so much, I couldn't keep watching. I guess the wound is fresher than I thought it was. This is the entire reason I decided to remove myself from social media in the first place, so I guess it makes sense.
I'm glad I watched what little I did of that video, because I learned about myself and it strengthened my belief that quitting social media was a good decision for me. I am positive that is not what Natalie Wynn set out to do by releasing this particular video, but that's ok. I took from it what I could, and especially when hearing her discuss the kinds of topics she does, I think it's natural for my internal monologue to go to unexpected places. I'm happy I let it go there, but I think it's important I finish watching the video at some point. The fact that hearing about online brigading still makes me on edge probably means I have not taken the time to sit with this emotion long enough to see it through. There is still something there to work on.
Anyway, thanks Natalie.