Youtube’s cancel culture drama

What I learnt from watching these subcount wars

These past few weeks on youtube we saw a lot of drama, with some youtubers getting cancelled. Starting with the drama between Tati & James Charles. Jake Paul tried to grow his subscribers by jumping on the bandwagon, calling out Cody Ko for supposed cyberbullying. Deji called out his brother KSI. Tfue fell-out with FaZe Clan. And now this week with the #voxadpocalypse, where Vox journalist Carlos Maza began a feud with Stephen Crowder.  As the saying goes, ‘There is no such thing as bad publicity’.

Thousands, millions, of followers wanted to vent their dismay. So they unsubscribed from the villain of the moment, and subscribed to the victim. Then, the villain reveals another side of the story and they become the new misunderstood hero. There’s been so much dirty laundry aired in the past few weeks that it seems like it’s a new niche or genre. It pushed Youtube to announce that they’re making massive changes to the subscriber counts to try stop these subscriber wars.

It’s scary that we enjoy seeing someone getting destroyed so much. I fell for it too, watching subcount livestreams. Which made me ask what was really going on here. There’s something which exists in all of us. It sometimes causes the news to be so sensational.

You might not have heard of it before, but this cancel culture is a fanatical example of virtue signalling. When we see something which is wrong or socially unacceptable, we call it out. We want to show others which side of the fence we stand on. It’s easy to call out bad stuff when that bad stuff is obvious. It makes us feel good to call out the bad stuff. It makes us feel like the good guys. As though just standing on the right side of the fence unquestionably gives you the virtue that the bad guy lacks.

But there is a big difference between virtue signalling and actual virtue. Simply put, virtue is being a good person, which of course isn’t a small feat. Virtue is forming your character so that you’ll do the right thing at the right time, in the right way. And forming our character costs us. Sometimes it costs us small daily tasks, sometimes it costs us life changes. With virtue signalling on the other hand there’s barely any personal cost. Posting something on social media against abuse, discrimination, climate change or any number of the social justice causes doesn’t cost us much.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Get informed about the situation. Look at it from both sides of the story. Know the pros and cons, the good stuff and the bad stuff of each side.
  2. Find a role model or mentor. Someone who has more experience, who can guide you and keep you accountable as you grow and form your character.
  3. Actually get your hands dirty. Like Pope Francis said, let’s have the smell of the sheep. Everyone would agree, it’s sad to see sheep get lost. But you get the smell of the sheep by going out to find the sheep, and once you’ve found them carrying them on your shoulders back home.
  4. Be a genuine leader. Be motivated to share what you’ve learnt, what you’ve done, and how you’ve grown with others, so that others become leaders too.

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