I’ve been a dedicated YouTube viewer since I was about 11 or 12. I’ve grown up with YouTube. I watched Bethany Mota before she had millions of followers and listened to Against the Current years before they were on Warped Tour. I started out watching the typical beauty guru videos, learning how to do eyeliner and trying to figure out what make-up to buy. Along the way, I watched all sorts of musicians grow into fruition, from Troye Sivan to Dodie Clark to Christina Grimmie (I miss you). I eventually discovered YouTubers from all parts of the world, and now my subscription box is filled with Casey Neistat vlogs, Zoella lifestyle videos, MillenialLifeCrisis episodes, and BangtanBombs. And in all of my years, I have posted maybe two comments in my life. Both of those were on videos that had less than 100 views and were for the YouTube videos of one of my friends. Apart from that, I never, EVER post comments.
I read them, though. And the more I read, the less I want to partake. For one, my youtube screen name is completely embarrassing, and I don’t need to reply to a comment from a stranger with a name that makes me cringe every time I see it. Not to mention, most of what I have to say will probably result in some kind of meaningless comment war that just gives you too many notifications and too big of a headache.
I’ve always been told to be very careful what I put on the internet. Growing up, I was also kind of taught to use the internet as a tool for education, not necessarily interaction.
I’ve seen people get destroyed for being liberals or conservatives. I’ve seen kids being cursed at for ignorance. I’ve seen bigotry, pettiness, callousness, and jealousy. I’ve seen YouTubers I love fall apart because of the negativity being directed towards them. I’ve seen fandoms tear themselves apart because of immaturity and narrow-mindedness. From hate comments on Zalfie vlogs for their lifestyles (which we honestly don’t have a right to comment about) to full-fledged arguments on KPOP videos for line distribution inequality (really? can’t you just support them?), everywhere I turn, the comments section is a mess.
[the KPOP stuff is particularly annoying because companies control line distributions and screen time (using marketing strategies and selling stats as guides), not the members themselves ]
Once in a while, I find a space filled with positivity, with genuine conversation and peaceful disagreement or discussion. And then, my fingers itch to comment. But that honestly happens so rarely that it may as well not happen at all. And sometimes, the conversations I want to be a part of are just those that perpetuate groupthink, making my answer nonconducive to the topic at hand. (And I’m not talking about videos where people sit there and teach people to do their hair or show their kids growing up; I’m talking about the videos that get a high amount of views and have controversial or popular content).
I don’t know why differing opinions lead to a bloodbath when it comes to the internet, but I think that the YouTube comment section is that one place where I live by the age-old adage, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”