JonTron, YouTube, & Bandwagons

I want to start this off my commending Jon Jafari for having the courage to express his opinions in an environment that is increasingly hostile to any amount of dissent. With universities throughout the country playing host to vicious riots and attacks against people who were invited to speak, and with DDoS attacks regularly taking place against any popular person who dares voice a criticism of something else, it has become difficult to openly say what you think. This is, in fact, why the media missed the mark so much on the 2016 Election. Criticism around the clock from every corner of the web and media attacked Trump supporters, washing them all as racist, homophobic, transphobic, and xenophobic, to the point that many people were reluctant to express their support for him. But then they were able to voice their opinion through the ballot, where there was no more judgment, no ostracizing, and no hostility.

I’ve had people criticize me for daring to criticize another transgender person. That’s how deep and pervasive the groupthink has become–the allegation was, seriously, that I was not allowed to express a negative statement about another transgender person, because I’m transgender, and that means my individuality, my thoughts, and my mind don’t belong to me–they belong to my tribe. I became a heretic simply for expressing my opinion.

The Internet is largely the domain of the same people who riot on college campuses. Partially due to observable biases that see right-wing figures blocked for hate speech while left-wing figures can rant all they want, social media increasingly leans to the left. This is exacerbated by the reality that anyone who expresses their opinion invites themselves to be ripped to shreds. Combined, we’ve ended up with a very loud leftist bent on the Internet and a meek, intimidated right that is only beginning to speak again.

Nowhere was this more apparent than with my since-deleted video criticizing the Liberal Redneck. One person after the next came and attacked me, simply because I dared criticized a leftist who was, purportedly, “speaking for me.” This hearkens back to the tribal mindset I mentioned earlier–I was being told to shut up and be silent, to let the tribe speak for me, and I was ostracized when I refused to allow my voice to be cut off and stolen by a group with whom I disagree. The attacks were so constant and so persistent that I did something I never thought I’d do: I deleted the video that caused the ruckus. The only things that remain of it are my follow-ups about tribalism and the Us and Them mentality that demands I sheepishly abide what the tribe says on my behalf, whether I agree with it or not.

For someone like me, even voicing an opinion at all can, much of the time, result in attacks. I once commented on a video of a woman overreacting that someone smacked her with a newspaper by saying, “This is how liberals acted every time Trump opened his mouth.” The first reply to that was from a Trump supporter who criticized me for being transgender. People on the right will relentlessly attack me for being transgender, regardless of how unrelated to the discussion it is. Meanwhile, people on the left will relentlessly attack me for not being a Democrat.

It’s easy to stand on video today and say, “I support gay rights.” It’s not only easy; it’s passe. It’s expected, especially in places notoriously dominated by millennials, like YouTube, Twitter, and Reddit. There’s no battle there, no controversy there. It’s little more than virtue signaling at this point. Remember the episode of South Park where Stan and Cartman drove a boat into the dam and broke it? At the end of the episode, Stan musters his courage and confesses that he broke the dam. Then the rest of the crowd decides that Stan means it in a metaphorical sense, and the assembled people begin stating one after the other, “I broke the dam.”

Finally, Cartman, laughing a bit, steps forward and confesses, “I broke the dam.”

That is what it is to be a modern progressive in a university, in a city, or on the Internet. It’s a safe, uncontested position, where on is bolstered on all sides by people who agree, because people who have the courage to disagree are either silenced and told to go along with the majority, or are condemned and, increasingly, outright attacked violently. It takes no courage to be a Mississippian high schooler standing up and saying that he believes in Jesus, either, because that’s the prevailing opinion.

Caitlyn Jenner made a huge stink last year about going to use the women’s restroom at Trump Tower, after Trump had stated that transgender people could use whatever restroom they wanted in his building. It took no courage to do that. She wanted to be like Rosa Parks, except Caitlyn would only ride the bus if she knew the bus driver would let her sit wherever she wanted. The courageous act would have been going to South Carolina or Mississippi and doing it there. It takes no courage or bravery to jump onto a bandwagon that everyone else has jumped on.

During the 2016 Election, I unfollowed a number of YouTube personalities for proclaiming quite inexplicably things like “I’m interested in politics, and I’m going to discuss it! If you don’t like it, unfollow me!” I unfollowed them because it was bullshit. There was nothing courageous about being yet another YouTube personality jumping on the Sanders bandwagon without being able to give a single, cogent reason that Sanders made a good candidate, and neither was there anything courageous about proclaiming “I’m with her!” once Hillary stole the nomination. And now that the election is over, all those people who were “interested in politics” have gone back to cosplaying or whatever they do, having fully confused their eagerness to jump on a bandwagon with genuine interest and awareness of a complex subject.

I like Jon Jafari’s videos. That’s why I’m aware of his existence in the first place. The only video of his that I don’t like is the one about the Dungeons & Dragons movie, and that’s only because it hits so near to home for me, because my grandmother did think that shit, and was convinced of that shit by our pastor. Jon’s a hilarious guy, and he’s the only person I’ve ever watched who made me genuinely ask, “How does he come up with this shit?!” while laughing hysterically. I don’t particularly care about his politics, because he’s just a guy who makes stuff that I like. That doesn’t place his opinions in any place higher than my own opinions, just as I disagree with David Gilmour of Pink Floyd on several things, and even with John McAfee on a few.

I like Mark Dice’s videos–most of them, at least. There’s almost nothing that I agree with Mark Dice about.

I like Jim Sterling’s videos, and he is commonly called a SJW. I don’t think he’s one, because he is perfectly reasonable, and the mark of the SJW is that they are completely unreasonable. I disagree with him on a number of things, but that doesn’t stop me from liking him and enjoying his videos. Considering Jim intentionally encourages a Cult of Personality type of thing, that’s particularly humorous, but The Jimquisition is all in good fun. Even though he says “Thank god for me,” I think he’d probably be a little concerned and probably a lot disturbed to learn if there is a little kid out there who says each night before going to bed, “And thank you, God, for Jim Sterling” with sincerity.

What I’m saying is that we should all break this cult of personality thing, but it looks like it’s actually going to take off and become worse, with Oprah announcing her intention to run for office in 2020. All of his knowledge of physics in the world wouldn’t make Neil deGrasse Tyson a good administrator, and neither would it make him any more likely to hold sound policies. Being funny as hell shouldn’t give Jon’s opinions any more validity in anyone’s eyes–he’s still just some guy expressing an opinion.

But it does, and now condemnation pours in from all over the Internet on this funny guy who dared express his opinion because that opinion wasn’t the bandwagon, trendy opinion of the day.

I happen to think Jon is wrong. There’s no such thing as immigrant. There’s just an animal exercising their natural right to move from a place with fewer resources to a place with greater abundance. Just as the birds have the natural, innate, and unalienable right to fly south during the winter, so does a human have the natural, innate, and unalienable right to go any-damn-where they want, as long as they don’t trespass on another person’s property. But while people can own property and claim resources–a claim that stands prima facie and can be disputed formally, but, if not overturned formally and with civility, cannot be undermined without the initiation of force, violence, or coercion–a nation isn’t a real thing, either, and so a nation can’t claim resources.

Jon said that a nation is either sovereign or it isn’t. That’s an incorrect way of viewing the world, as it places tremendous value and weight in imaginary, artificial human constructs. Nations aren’t sovereign because nations aren’t real. They’re categorical constructs meant to simplify classification, and the tribal nature of our species had made them far more trouble then they’re worth, because instead of being just handy labels to convey characteristics quickly and easily, they become delineations that we’re willing to fight, torture, kill, and maim over. “How dare you hail from a different tribe? You are wicked!” becomes the norm, instead of, “Oh, you hail from Europe? So you’re more likely to have this, that, and the other characteristic. Neat.”

But I do commend Jon, even though I don’t agree with him, for having the courage to go against the grain. A lot of people would adamantly deny that the Internet, particularly, has a strong bias to the left, but that’s to be expected. People in the south insist that there’s no social pressure to be a Christian, too, but there most certainly is. I’ll leave once more with this video by TheraminTrees on conformity, and how the social pressure to conform and jump on the bandwagon compels us more than we think. At the very least, people should have the proper context for viewing Jon’s statements–he’s just another person–and should neither take him as a gift to the alt-right or an enemy of the left, and he definitely shouldn’t become Public Enemy Number One just because he dared speak his opinion.

 

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