Friday, June 28, 2019

YouTube Politics and Free Speech



Welcome to Moral Libertarian View, a podcast style program where we discuss big ideas to see if they can contribute to more individual liberty and equal opportunity, values that are at the heart of the Moral Libertarian idea. Unlike many popular channels out there, this show is a dedicated non echo-chamber, where views from the left, right and center are all going to be considered without discrimination. I hope you subscribe if you are interested.

Today, I need to vent. I'm sorry, but this is an important message that I think more people need to hear. Let's start here. Andrew Yang is my favorite 2020 Democratic candidate, and Dave Rubin is a talk show host I regularly follow. About two weeks ago, Dave Rubin interviewed Andrew Yang on the Rubin Report, and they discussed some interesting and controversial issues, including identity politics, immigration and abortion. Yang's position on abortion was particularly poorly received by many of Rubin's viewers, which was what made me do a response video, where I outlined reasons why pro-life people can still justifiably support Andrew Yang, in the hope that pro-life people can at least give his ideas a chance despite their differences on this particular issue. The Freedom Dividend is a great idea, and I want to help it along. Basically, I wanted to help Andrew out, and I also wanted to show it's OK in terms of conscience for pro-life people to support Andrew if they want to. Less than twenty hours later, I had lost four subscribers. Yes, a loss of four in a single day, in a channel with only six hundred something, that's nearly 1%. By proportion, it would be like if Dave Rubin lost eight thousand or so in a day. I don't even know if it's people from the left or the right who got upset, honestly. I mean, I didn't even say anything particularly controversial, I merely said that there could be a pro-life case for supporting a particular candidate who is pro-choice. Obviously, I had to refer to my own views to make the argument, but those were just personal views, not even political views. I know that abortion is a controversial issue for both sides of US politics right now, but this is still, well, very disappointing.

I know I shouldn't take it personally, but this feels like a slap in the face of what I'm trying to do. It's so hard somedays. You know, my purpose of doing this, talking about politics here, is to offer a real alternative to the echo chambers, true to the classical liberal tradition of the free market of ideas. Unlike many other creators, I don't get a single cent out of it, but I feel like I'm making a difference, because I'm smashing the echo chambers, giving a different take on the issues, and encouraging people to look across the divide. I want to tackle the echo chamber problem because, in a landscape of echo chambers, there's no effective free speech, and there's no effective free market of ideas, and I am worried about that.

If you want your echo chambers, there's always a lot of popular places to go to. If you want regular conservative stuff there's always The Blaze and The Ben Shapiro Show, if you want regular left-wing stuff there's always David Pakman and The Young Turks, and if you want far-left stuff there's always BreadTube. Don't get me wrong, I'm subscribed to all of these myself. But sometimes they feel just like three big blobs of echo chamber talk, where everyone shares the same view on everything. Most of the time, I don't even need to watch a single video to know what they will say, and I'm sick and tired of it. The point is, YouTube and perhaps the rest of social media is already a landscape of echo chambers everywhere, with audience capture causing creators to have to say the same things and stick to the same worldview all the time. For example, several weeks ago a left-wing channel I follow had a listener dial in and ask how she could convince her single-issue pro-life friend to vote for a Democratic candidate. The answer was generally along the lines of, no, you simply cannot, almost as if they are aliens from another world who cannot be reasoned with. I guess that's the answer that is expected in the echo chamber that is left-world, as evident by the positive reaction. I guess the alternative answer I gave the other day would be too much heresy. Similarly, in right-world, there would probably be another standard answer for the reverse of this question.

The point is, I don't want to turn into one of those echo chamber people, and I don't think I can ever become like them either. I don't know how they do it, but for me, it would kill me inside to be that conforming. I guess that, if someone doesn't appreciate my honesty, so be it. But to be true to yourself is difficult, especially on social media, where all the tribal conformers get to have lucrative careers, and where all the true contrarians get regularly punished for their honesty. I believe this online echo chamber culture is what is making our politics so toxic right now. In a way, rational and open-minded thinking has been swallowed up by identity politics everywhere, and it kills me to see that. Sometimes, it feels like I'm the only one fighting for diversity and real rational thinking out here, when everyone else is more interested in being a true conservative, a true progressive, or a true whatever. Guess what. I'm not a conventional progressive, I'm not a conventional conservative either, I'm not a conventional libertarian either. I am who I am. I believe in the Moral Libertarian doctrine of Equal Moral Agency, and I'm not going to cede any of that agency to peer pressure coming from anyone else. And if someone doesn't like what I have to say, that's fine. But mark my words: encouraging tribalism will only lead to the end of civilization as we know it.