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The Golden Era
For 15 years, I've been using this little known website called YouTube, and in that time, I've seen it implode from an amazing getaway from school and garbage television into a soulless, monotone assembly line of narcissists seeking money.
I've said it so many times by now, but some people still don't seem to get it at all. YouTube proved to be a complete waste of time in the long run, what with the constant cycle of putting so much time into something only for it to be forgotten in a week at most. This is a complaint that many people probably have, but it's only part of a larger problem.
When I first hopped on board there, the variety of videos one could find was insane. One one side, you've got some dumbass breaking the vending machine glass, another side has an extremely skilled acrobat, yet another does comedy skits for the hell of it, and down at the corner, there's someone who will answer tons of questions about using the command prompt. People posted these videos because they wanted to, because it was fun to share weird shit with the world.
Everyone had their own approach, even as many tried to copy the big dogs. I still remember when I first discovered Smosh. The idea that one could compel an entire generation of internet users to come look at some homemade no-budget skits was unreal. It seemed like it shouldn't be possible, but many people like myself were getting fed up with what cable TV had to offer. It wasn't even about channels like Nickelodeon going downhill; being on the cutting edge of the latest developments in the internet and watching Michael's latest ping pong cup shot was just natually more attractive.
YouTube was especially a godsend since school had been abnormally cruel to me. After being dragged through so much bullshit even so early on in my life and not really ever finding a place in any social groups there, YouTube provided the exact kind of escape I needed. Deep down, I never wanted some sanitized, presentable thing shoved in front of me, I wanted the raw deal of how real people do crazy shit. Being on YouTube helped fill in that void of being part of something, even when I was just watching videos.
I wasn't ready to become directly involved with the YouTube community in 2006. The reason should be obvious enough; I was quite young at that point, but something tells me I should have joined that much sooner, if only to relish more of the glory days. I was already making some weird videos about Windows 95 at that point. Like... they were mega weird.
When I finally joined YouTube in early 2007, I tried uploading a raw VMware AVI of me creating a new theme in Windows 98. Unfortunately, it didn't go through due to the extremely niche codec at play there, so my natural response was to go a completely different direction. I wasn't sure what exactly I wanted to make for the site at first, but kept creating and posting whatever came to mind regardless of what it was.
It did not go smoothly. A lot of people hated my videos for two simple reasons: one, I was a squealy fat kid, which is a recipe for shut the fuck up you annoying bitchass, and two, my videos were of low quality and often made no sense at all. Even then, some people still liked my videos anyway, and so I was quite happy to accumulate 10 subscribers around May 16th.
I forget what most of the videos were like, as the clunkiness of YouTube's uploader forced me to use Quick Capture a lot of the time. Or maybe I just thought it redundant to first encode a video in Windows Movie Maker and then upload it... relying on Quick Capture was a bad idea in the long run.
We've all seen how disastrous being raised by the internet can be, but sometimes, it can be legitimately beneficial to some degree. Within the pile of hate mail I got, I received some constructive feedback as well, which in turn helped me break out a bit from that sheltered lifestyle I was already having. Yeah, back then it wasn't uncommon to receive actually insightful comments. Now, all you get are shitty overdone memes. Who wants to hear "bruh" for the millionth time? Congratulation, you won!
Eventually, one kid referred me to a collaboration group that may very well have been the most wholesome of its kind - for the most part, many kids would just make their own videos independently and share them with each other, but every now and then, perhaps in time for a holiday, they'd gather around to deliver their seasons greetings or show their support for a green Planet Earth. According to some screenshots in a video, the group got featured twice, which had to mean YouTube's staff loved the idea... right?
At that time I was referred to the group, I began to see a much darker side of YouTube, a YouTube that would slowly drift further and further away from the people that have powered it from the very beginning. It turned out that after featuring two videos from this collab group in December 2006 and April 2007, they suspended it out of the blue, without giving ANY explanation. WHAT THE FUCK?!!
It felt like such a cruel prank. An absolute juggernaut of a young YouTuber was stopped in his tracks, and now I couldn't get to see what he had to offer. It's a tale that's been forgotten for an entire decade, but the outcry against this suspension was very real. Two videos making a case to reinstate the account were mirrored all over YouTube by countless channels. Given YouTube was as small and vulnerable as it was back then, they actually responded... but their answers made no sense.
The two accounts in question were opened when their star was 12 years old, so it would seem justified that they were suspended. BUT, one critical detail to note here is that the accounts were registered and maintained by his father, someone responsible enough to call the shots on what goes online. It's an ideal approach for allowing a kid to share his creations with the world, as most are not equipped to fully grapple with the implications of doing so on their own.
For an all-encompassing platform like YouTube that was meant to let you broadcast yourself, it sure had its way with inexplicably booting people off the platform. In the exchange of emails between YouTube and the father in question, YouTube kept making excuses as to why the accounts were suspended, and the whole thing got nowhere. It didn't help YouTube's case much that by the time the accounts were suspended, the kid was already 13.
At the same time this happened, a sizable troll group was running amok, many sporting South Park avatars, spamming channel comment boxes with repeated lines of text, and making Speakonia slideshows of screenshots of us with overlay titles telling us how gay we are. In retrospect, the wannabe gangsta attitude they exhibited is fucking hilarious to look back at, but we were not laughing back then. I sure as hell wanted nothing of them. Unfortunately, I was dumb enough to play their game and give them exactly what they wanted - so much so that I eventually became a prime target as more trolls sprung up. This is why you should never feed them, it's one of the biggest mistakes any internet user can make. Surprise, many people live pathetic lifestyles!
The spam they sent wasn't even the big issue, however. It was the abuse of the flagging function. These trolls mass flagged numerous innocent channels, including my own. And guess what... they were successful. On October 2nd, 2007 (to which I recall), my account was suspended, and I felt betrayed. Of course, unlike the other kid I mentioned, I operated my account myself, so there was clearly justification for it. Remember, though, apart from being too young, we were innocent, even if I did get really heated. YouTube suspended accounts like mine based on a bunch of false flags without performing sufficient investigation, and some of the flaggers got off scot-free.
With hesitation, I decided it wouldn't be worth publicly returning to YouTube, at least not until around a full two years later. I knew I would get suspended again if I joined full force. I stuck to posting videos on my website I hosted with .Mac (which became MobileMe, and then iCloud, where they then canned iWeb) before quietly dismantling that as well.
It seemed like just another devastating point in my life; little did any of us know that it was a foreshadowing of what was to come in YouTube's management...
That Journey Up To This Point
I recently looked back at some old family tapes that had me in them, dating all the way back to my birth and even earlier. As is the case with many parents, mine were so focused on getting us in the shot, not even acknowledging a computer screen, because who gives a fuck about technology, right? You have to always be resourceful with your Video8 camcorder, you have to make sure you get that embarassing diaper moment on camera, HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!! So, I found most of them pretty underwhelming... I guess during a trip to SeaWorld (a mundane chlorine storage facility) in 1997, my dad was trying out one of those Manx TT Super Bike arcade cabinets, and was quite impressed with the realism it presented with a motorcycle you have to tilt with your feet in order to steer. That's as close to the full extent of any technology coverage I could find on the tapes, though. Big surprise.
One thing that did stick out, though, was me apparently wanting to grab ahold of the camera in multiple instances. It's natural for babies to have that sort of amusing intrigue with such objects, but looking back at it now, it's unmistakable - I wanted to hold that camera before I was even walking upright, before I had any concept of a camcorder being able to record footage of anything such as myself. Going by that, there had to also be instances where I was trying to reach for the other 486 computer sitting in that basement. This was destiny.
Sure enough, I got my wish in 2002; I got to operate the camcorder my mom was using, and one VHS-C tape was assigned to me. Over the course of a couple years, I recorded pretty much whatever the fuck I wanted to record, all random everyday moments happening in the house. This starkly contrasted the initial uses of the two camcorders by my parents, where they were largely reserved for more important events, like holidays, trips, first times in shallow pools, and several other small moments documenting our growth. Now, I could record myself asking some kids a question in a squeaky voice like "Are you playing Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1???" and getting an irritated response like "No, it's 4." The magic of filmmaking!
These small things were signs I was growing faster than myself. When we jumped to broadband in 2003, it sure was nice to not have to get someone to help me log on to the internet anymore. I was running wild with downloading too many free trials of casual games, some of which I ended up getting my entire family so hooked on that we registered several of them. This was back when casual games were good, having none of the predatory techniques that are ubiquitous in today's telephone games.
The games that were out there in the early 2000's aren't what I'd call spectacular, but for a few of them, the music was beyond so. I hadn't thought that much of music back then, save for those techno tracks from The Next Tetris. Music seemed more like a cheap supplement to life, commanding you to dance or do your chores and your laundry... but when I fired up Diamond Mine for the first time, Data Jack blew my fucking mind. I had never heard anything like it before, it felt like I had ascended beyond all matter right as it kicked in. What kind of energy was it? I couldn't describe it, but I found out that is what I wanted. After my trial expired, I did everything to make sure that track was left intact in my brain.
By 2005, I got a much spicier camcorder that used MiniDV tapes, but I had never really edited a proper video. Nonetheless, the Panasonic PV-GS120 would eventually turn out to be one of the most important tools I'd come to use in the years that followed. It had superb quality for a consumer-grade video camera, which is partly why it outlived some other cheapo tapeless "HD" cameras I used later. Still, at this point I was once again recording only whatever I wanted to record without much of an end game, and playing them back as is. It was certainly much easier to do with the large fold-out LCD as opposed to a tiny viewfinder.
At this time, we replaced the Asus K7M build with a new machine powered by a Pentium 4 running Windows XP with Service Pack 2. The service pack is important, because while Windows Movie Maker 2 had been out since 2002, it wasn't installed by default until that service pack released in late 2004. As I said in Hardcore Windows XP, Microsoft has to rely on default settings to push their products. Most of them are unwarranted, but even for as all bloated as SP2 is, the inclusion of the updated multimedia programs may have been the most important update ever pushed to computers - right on time for the emergence of YouTube, too.
I didn't understand how to import video clips to Windows Movie Maker at first; it seemed cryptic as to how I was supposed to put my camcorder into a certain mode that would allow footage to be captured through USB, but even then, I had another ultra cheap digital camera one of my relatives thrifted for me, an Aiptek DV 3100+. Somehow, I couldn't figure out how to get my recordings from the camera into a collection; clicking the sidebar link "Capture from video device" did nothing. It's so strange to think that the concept of drag and drop eluded me at that moment, but it did, and I renamed the program link to "Impossible Movie Maker" in frustration.
But then, during a stay of a couple of weeks at someone's house, I saw my brother doing something with that program on another computer... making a cheap "animation" of sorts. I knew I had to try this myself. June 27th, 2005 would mark my first real jump into the world of video editing. So, what did I make? None other than "The Real Jump"... and that's pretty much what it was, an anatomically incorrect stick figure jumping onto a platform, leaving two others in shock.
To experiment with the features in Windows Movie Maker, I repeatedly appended to this video with more cheesy titles and transitions, most of which basically talked about how great and #1 of a video producer I am through some elongated credits sequence. Several other videos like this would follow later that year, all which are as bland as this one must seem.
When I got a new computer built for me at the end of that year, a ton of new possibilities were being opened up. Now, I could take a lot more time to make plenty more strange videos within the comforts of my own bedroom, not having to wait for the one in the living room to become available. From that point forward, the concept of a shared family computer would grow more foreign with time. Something was missing, though... something I once had, but forfeited out of an impulse.
I did not have Windows 9x anymore. However, I did have one new skill on hand that would prove useful for helping me move towards that artifact once more. If I could tell a story about some stickman jumping, surely I could also tell the kind of story I'd want to see, a story about somone using Windows 98. Not for its crashes, but for its glory.
You see, at one point in 2005, I had two old computers on my hands already - a Sharp laptop of some kind running Windows 95, and that Compaq Presario desktop running Windows 98. It was beautiful, finally having what I longed for once again after being stuck with that abomination of an operating system called Windows XP for most of a couple years.
Yet I was dumb enough to give it all up seemingly out of nowhere; the two computers became unusable in their own ways - the laptop's keyboard, and eventually the trackpad, were rendered unusable after I spilled milk and cereal on it multiple times... WHOOPS! The fact that the motherboard wasn't fried is a testament to the build quality of that laptop, at least. As for the Compaq Presario, I found I couldn't save anything on it anymore, not even some Control Panel settings. In retrospect, my deduction was that the hard drive became too full, but it's not like I could figure that out back then! Did you expect me to? I only wish I had just asked my uncle what was wrong with it instead of forfeiting the computer. He certainly could've given me a clear answer and some advice, and that would've been all I needed to keep going with what I had.
Nonetheless, one other very important thing I had now was wireless internet connectivity, so I could just conduct an internet search on Windows 95 and retrieve a bountiful of resources related to it - screenshots, videos, and even some prank programs from RJL and ComputerPranks. Since 2006 was long past the days of Windows 95 in its prime, I ended up making many, many videos trying to create a new experience surrounding it, using GUIdebook Gallery's screenshots to aid in putting together my story of a family selling their old copy of Windows 95 at a garage sale to get Windows 98.
Yeah, what else? There are no rules, remember? It's now safe to turn off your computer. If you shut the closet door in your bedroom, it will automatically turn off the computer, because that's funny. Oh, there's a picture of a dog stepping on a laptop keyboard. Let's abruptly cut to that picture after installing Mac OS 9 on a Windows 98 computer, and put a title there saying "Error: Dog still using computer." HAHAHAHAHAHHAESHHAHAHAU4HIAH45TYA94T93498H9A895HRW9A3HR8429WQAAWQQ
I did eventually get some of that classic Windows back when I got a laptop for Easter 2006 that dual booted Windows XP and 2000. Windows 2000 worked very well there, especially with streaming videos from multiple websites like StupidVideos, Metacafe, Newgrounds, and of course, YouTube. Later, VMware was installed on the Windows XP side, and so I got to run a Windows 98 virtual machine. Finally, I was back to where I was before once again! Though, virtualization was quite slow back then, especially on laptops.
Who knows, maybe if I had been posting my weird Windows 9x videos to YouTube that year, things could've gone a whole lot differently. Maybe I could've focused more on my everlasting passion for old technology instead of trying so hard to be like Smosh, and you would've seen something reminiscent of what my current channel is like much sooner. I know that after I cut my losses with that one account I talked about earlier, I did, in fact, return to YouTube at the tail end of 2007, but completely anonymously. There, I engaged in a completely different community that shared my enthusiasm for vintage Macintosh computers, which I really wanted to start collecting. One guy there was very nice and helpful, got me a complete working installation of Mac OS 7.5 set up in Mini vMac with some games. I got really big into Crystal Quest.
I still made videos, but in 2008, I only made videos for myself. Rather than squarely trying to be like Smosh, I just messed around with all sorts of ideas on my own. With no one to please but my family and a few IRL friends I met later on, I started learning how to use a more advanced video editor known as Final Cut Express 4, and gradually improved my production technique. I experimented with various ideas, many of which I forgot because a lot of these videos are completely gone now. I do remember trying some things other cool kids were doing like cloning myself, making an iPod commercial with a green screen (that is, a long sheet of fabric from Jo-Ann hung at the window curtain), and even one of those real life first person shooter things.
When I got a new Kirby plush in 2009, that drove me to make plenty more videos of such things like him going on a car trip, working as a cashier, or making first contact with an alien robot that descended from a UFO repurposed from a birthday balloon. As I mentioned in my article about two DarkBASIC projects, Kirby was a major source of inspiration for a lot of my creations from 2009. I find those videos to be rather hard to watch now, but as with the 3D CGI/live action hybrid series "Kirby: The Other World Story" which me and one of my friends brainstormed later that year, I'm sure some people would have adored them if I ever published them. Too bad. Only one other person has copies of them, and you'll never find them. Heheh...
I edged closer to going back to YouTube in full swing a few months later when I opened another account, first to privately test the cool new annotation feature. At this time, I was getting really big into collecting cash registers of all things... unfortunately, I do not have any of them anymore. I wonder if I should have kept them around longer, considering that these relics have been completely replaced by point of sale systems powered by Windows or iPads. There's a significant charm to cash registers, even the later digital ones. They have a certain professional look to them, and plenty of real keys for ensuring good tactile feedback - quite important when you're ringing up a lot of sales. Plus, 7 segment and low-res alphanumeric displays are much more pleasing to the eyes.
One of my tutorials explaining how to program tax rates on a Sharp XE-A203 (US model with 7 segment display) ended up holding the record for my most viewed video I ever published for seven years, until, well, you know. Maybe I should've worked in retail for a bit, given I had a knack for configuring cash registers. Ah well.
Despite the new troubles I was facing that year, it seemed like things were going swimmingly. Not only was I slowly immersing myself back into the motions of doing YouTube stuff, but I was also starting to do so much more - I learned how to use the Linux terminal, set up a LAMP server and create a website for it, and even learned a tiny bit of programming. It seemed I was well on pace to make many more rapid advancements in my life... and then junior high school came crashing towards me like a bullet train.
As if I didn't already suffer enough in elementary, suddenly there were so many staff members screaming all these orders at us to do this and do that, MAKE SURE YOU KEEP THIS FUCKING BOOK WITH YOU AT ALL TIMES, YOU WORTHLESS FUCKWAD! MARK THAT SHIT DOWN IN THERE! DON'T PUT THE HOOD ON BECAUSE IT MAKES YOU LOOK LIKE YOU'RE ASSOCIATED WITH A GANG! It was as if I had done something so horrible and was being punished for it, but I just got there, for fuck's sake! They're not training recruits into marines, it's supposed to be a simple step into a considerably different environment - more advanced, but still familiar, right???
I don't know if junior high teachers were trained to presume we were all a bunch of unattentive douchebags who kept listening to rap music so rebelliously, but in those first few hours, I immediately knew this was going to be a fucking ugly ride. Even so, it seemed I was coming back together a month later when I met someone there whom I'd regularly call to arrange some new filmings with. He basically got me to throw myself back into making full-fledged videos for YouTube, and at that point, I had come a long way.
Finally, with his help, I devised decently engaging plots for these new videos, and our talents combined to create a new dynamic that would be used to drive these videos. For the first time, I was making headway into being like Smosh, but in my own little way. The videos weren't great, hell, one of them was actually super boring, but we had a number of neat ideas on hand.
The most defining of these ideas was a particular structure we stuck to whenever we made a video. We'd film our main feature that took most of the time we had together on any sleepover night, and after that, we'd film extra shorts to be compiled in another video. Thinking about it now, this HAD to be a pretty damn innovative workflow. Come for the dramatic conflict with the evil gingerbread man, stay for the random shit like Captain Falcon beating up Kirby, someone getting punched for pressing a button market "DO NOT PRESS", and cheating in a pizza eating race.
By this point, I had also ascended far past the Windows Movie Maker peasants with my superior high-precision non-linear editing tools in Final Cut Express. To gloat about this, we made an ironic Windows Movie Maker video with the garbage Aiptek camera for an extras compilation - years before the idea was cool! Maybe at some point in the far future, I should consider releasing it, because it's probably the funniest thing that came out of all of this.
It seemed like I finally had it made, but a number of things caused the run to come crumbling down. For one, the extreme pressure of junior high led me to become more and more edgy over time as a defense mechanism, eventually losing sight of the person I once was. After some undesirable encounter drove me to delete the new channel I made for those skits, I found myself at a lack of ease. Then, I reopened some other channel I previously closed to try my hand at the whole thing again, but, for whatever reason, I got myself locked in another encounter with some other weird people that made a habit out of trolling. Again?
But at the dawn of 2010, I found myself turning more sadistic, and decided to form an unholy alliance with those who were attacking me just days before. This is not a time I like to talk about much, but I must tell you... if you think the content on my site is questionable at best, you haven't seen shit from me. That year, I turned evil. I sacrificed what I loved to become a monster in the hopes of being honored by something greater. That meant no more Kirby stuff because that's weeaboo bullshit (somehow), and I had to prove my strength through bullying others and evading their blocks with up to 40 different sock puppets by the time my charade peaked in 2011.
There, I also lost my will to make stuff that was simply cool, instead turning to making stuff that was assholish. I eventually sold my entire Kirby plush collection in one box with the intent of finally no longer being a manchild. What a fucking waste that turned out to be. I still wasn't happy even when I was extracting lulz. What I really needed was liberation from the source of all my problems.
Eventually I broke out of the bulk of that severe trolling phase I was doing after receiving some heavy discipline, but it would take years for me to return to being a normal person, and yet more to pick up from where I left off in 2009. Just as my mind was unbinding itself from the horrific past me and my environment created, my YouTube popularity spike constantly detracted me from advancing towards my true desires. I don't think I'll ever be that same half-innocent kid again with all my harsh experiences, but I understand everything now. Shame that other people have taken the place of my 14 year old self, unwitting of the greater hell they're in for.
I grew stronger, I pushed myself further, but much of what surrounds me has crumbled. The YouTube I once knew is nowhere to be found anymore. I see so many people on YouTube claiming they know the old YouTube, but time and time again, they prove to be completely clueless of the bigger picture.
YouTube's crumbling did not start with Susan, nor Google+, far from it. The curse was set the moment Google bought YouTube, and worked as a slow-acting poison. The site grew into more and more of a mess as arbitrary layout changes were implemented and useful features were killed off.
One of the earliest noteworthy forced changes that set the community on fire was the first channel redesign known as YouTube Channels 2.0. After first being revealed in late 2008 or so, the switch to the new layout did not become mandatory until a year later, but the whole time it was being gloated about, tons of people were mirroring a video in protest of the change. They really, really wanted to make sure this did not happen, or at the very least, give users a choice on which layout to use.
In a twist of irony, two worse layouts came to take its place - first Cosmic Panda, then YouTube One. Those same people are coming back to the YouTube Channels 2.0 video and saying "wow, I hated this back then, but now I would kill for it!" Even for how heavy 2.0 was compared to the original layout we knew, it still had a ton of things we took for granted - backgrounds, color customization, and a plentiful of diverse boxes all on the same page. The current channel layout is far less intuitive, as it hides away the channel description and other useful things to a completely separate page. Same goes with channel comments, which it seems YouTube has now purged outright.
Of course those false flags I mentioned happening in 2007 would only go on for yet longer. YouTube is a minefield, you can never tell if your video is going to get age restricted or deleted with a community guidelines infraction. I can't tell if it's gotten better or worse; copyright-hoarding companies are somewhat more lenient now, but when a primitive robot is in charge of striking offending content, it's bad news for all humans.
It's been unbelievably painful seeing YouTube erode so much at all these different points. I would have called it the best website of all time if not for the direction it's been taking. What have we lost? Annotations, community captions, channel comments, video responses, groups, actual channel customization, and a sense of dignity in being here. I could've made a gorgeous design for my YouTube channel if they just let me, you know.
Changes like this are the reason why sites like ZippCast and VidLii existed to begin with, as much as they turned out to be trainwrecks. People want choice, but YouTube is so out of touch with the community that they seem more interested in molding it to the shape only they want, and will drag everyone else down with them... especially their partners.
That's really the biggest problem with YouTube, as much as it is basically a necessity for some - monetization, ad revenue sharing. When the YouTube Partner Program first launched, it had a simple purpose: to help some of the biggest YouTubers producing original videos sustain their work. It performed remarkably well; the iconic Smosh duo didn't have to get a "real" job, they could just take their time making roughly one skit every month and make an alright living from it. In a local interview, they said they'd stop making videos and move on whenever people get tired of it. It seemed to be a pretty simple plan, but few of us could see how things would really turn out.
As YouTube loosened its regulations for partnership eligibility, more users naturally hopped on board, and it got to a point where you could just make money off of playing video games. Yeah... it sounded like a joke at first, but this is part of the reality we're in now. At the same time, some people revealed that most YouTube partnerships paid pathetically low revenue to creators, in spite of the NDA forbidding them from sharing such revelations.
Nonetheless, YouTube grew into a monolith with more years, so people didn't really have a choice. Furthermore, when YouTube changed the basis of monetization to watch time over views in a cheap effort to combat reply girls, some of the most top-notch creators, particularly animators, suffered bigtime. The rule change paved the way for more quantitative video producers, which, love them or hate them, are partly responsible for eroding YouTube as it once was.
While some insanely creative lower budget creators did enjoy wild success on YouTube for a time, some of them were crippled by YouTube's emerging policies created in a weak response to panicking advertisers over some dumb edgy fucks. No more swearing, no more scary violent stuff (except 3AM bullshit), you've gotta be family friendly. So, what, does cable TV now offer more creative freedom than YPP?
YouTube is now a site for iPad babies. Those of us who came to the old YouTube when we were too young to do so were elite in mind and will, accepting the risks and hardships we would face even if we were not actually prepared for them. We had to take falls like real people, or crash and burn. Now, anyone as old as I was when I first got on there don't even know what the fuck they're doing, they probably just took their mother's phones and found their way into some application called "YouTube" and started posting completely incoherent gibberish, possibly with emojis sprinkled in. They may insult others for no real reason, probably trying to be cool but inevitably making asses out of themselves for all eternity.
With much of that creative freedom stripped from partners, it appears everyone is now settling on a single generic format - the video essay. Some will put their own twists on it or spice it up however they can, but at the end of the day, the concept is always the same: there is some great or noteworthy things that exists or happened, let's talk about it for like twenty fucking minutes or something. The format isn't even inherently bad, the problem is that ABSOLUTELY EVERYONE is clickbaiting viewers into this kind of shit, and they are choking the lion's share of whatever is easy to find on YouTube these days.
I've written about this multiple times, yet hardly anyone seems to get it. We went from actively creating new cool shit that was designed to define the future to passively reminiscing of all these things we didn't do. Does nobody want to be anything anymore? I know there's plenty of gems that refuse to follow this rule; hell, for the past few years I've been trying to violate every single expectation of what a YouTube channel or video is like. Yet it seems that whenever I decide to fuck around and make some batshit insane video, some people start to become so concerned for my health. That's just fucking sad. If I write an incoherent subtitle that looks like I rolled my head on the keyboard, it's supposed to be funny, not a god damn indicator that I contracted some disease that requires intensive medical care.
YouTube videos are so pacifying these days that it makes my skin crawl. I was looking to feel real energy, like I did when I first heard Data Jack. It's truly pathetic how broken the spirit of video creation is now. Nobody wants to take any chances. If anything, the constant accumulation of trivial video essays is the equivalent of Marvel churning out 10,000 superhero movies with the same plot in an assembly line. YouTube can try making old unlisted videos inaccessible, they can purge good functions for no reason, and they can even decide to retroactively delete all age restricted videos to make their platform "safer", but as more narcissistic 4K-encoded essays stockpile from YouTube's most essential creator base for maintaining the "You" in its identity, the entire platform will eventually implode. It cannot keep up with those who pretend they can get by with the same old stale format.
Yeah, like, so when Half-Life 2 came out, it revolutionized the entire game industry again. And...? WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?
The Overproduction of Everything
There's something about the way videos are made now that's really fucking irritating, going beyond those dragged out essays. Everything seems to conform to most bits of a specific style. Annoying uploader gets in your face all the time, thumbnail has big arrows, big faces, big emojis, and Google Fonts text, there's stupid overused background music, and everyone is told to like and subscribe.
I think there's something in particular that may be the cause of so, so many videos all trying to grab everyone's attention but turning out exactly the same as each other: YouTube Creator Academy. I honestly can't be bothered to take a look at it myself, but hey, default settings, or maybe big boxes on your control panel you can't dismiss which YouTube pushes out are critical to putting everyone into some uniform production line.
Furthermore, it seems as if every single video has to have a label now. No longer can one stand on its own merits, everyone has to brand it as vaporwave, ASMR, or something like a dumb modern meme. Why does everyone have a compulsion to call a video with no dialogue ASMR? That's incredibly dense... I don't make ASMR shit, I'm trying to make something that cuts out all the bullshit from the majority of today's videos conforming to such overdone styles! Remember when people used to have to actively find this by chance, hiding in normal CamStudio and Flip Video tutorials? Now it's all so forced, like someone's trying to get you to lower your guard in some sketchy dungeon so that you can be taken to be tortured...
To really give you an idea of how insanely far this uniform has reached, let's bring up two subjects of interest that very likely would not come to your mind first thing on YouTube: Instant Pot and cash registers. The Instant Pot is a pretty neat little cooking utility, essentially a high pressure electric pot. I had some chicken noodle soup out of that recently while I was at some place, and that seemed to give it a stronger flavor. So, I thought, hey, why not look up some videos of other people using this thing?
Oh fuck... the entire search results are plagued with clickbait thumbnails!!! What's the fucking deal, why does everyone have to make their videos look like TV shows or some shit? It's not the most extreme example of the commercialization of video creation on YouTube, but that's my point. I don't want to weave through so much branding bullshit, eyecatcher intro gags, and talking about how I'm brand new to some nobody's channel, I just want to see a high pressure cooker in action! I just gave up because the videos I got were that repulsive.
Meanwhile, if you load up some tutorial from 2009 on how to program tax rates on a cash register, it's so much better in every way. Sure, the resolution is low, as is expected for videos of this era, but the instructions are direct enough that you won't waste too much time trying to get your cash register all set up. There is no unnecessary padding, editing, or demands to subscribe, just "okay here's the cash register, we're gonna set up this thing on here". It's simple, and it works. It's also more likable, kinda resembles something that could've easily been a spontaneous internal training video made by an employee for a crafts shop as it was a publicly available YouTube video.
I suppose a lot of cash register videos are unbastardized because they fell out of style lately. Yeah, I guess selling all my cash registers was a big mistake, wasn't it? Just a little over a decade ago, these things were quite prevalent. They're simple enough to program and operate, even if the limited display capabilities are cumbersome - but that's what gives these registers their charm. They were adapting to modern technology at a nice pace, equipping themselves with USB or RS-232 connectivity to a computer to aid in programming items and dumping reports. But they stopped manufacturing these things completely some years ago, because iPad. Now they're scalped on eBay all the time, often going for at least 50% above their original price.
Vicious eBay Warfare
This leads me to my next point. If you've been trying to wait around for a good deal on a GPU in 2021, you know exactly what I'm talking about. Scalping is out of control, and it's sickening. It seems everyone is trying to turn a profit out of whatever junk they've got. Whether it be computer hardware or cash registers, you basically can't escape price gouging these days.
I've had to rely on eBay to get some of the best components for these old computers of mine. I have scored some really good thrifts from time to time, but the frequency in which I did seemed to wither over the years. One of the most difficult things to acquire is a Slot 2 motherboard of any kind, especially with the retention brackets. I took a big chance trying to get one, really; after losing an auction for one, I had to turn to importing a different one from Germany, though at least I ended up getting it for free simply because it was taking so long to arrive, possibly around four months. I was shocked that it even came with the retention brackets and some cables to boot, as they were not pictured. So, with those, I was able to justify keeping the thing, but then I was thinking... where do I go from here?
Several more months passed, I acquired a few more things like some Asus P2B-B motherboards, and... suddenly, I quit buying on eBay. Turns out the scalping problem got that bad, now everyone is so narcissistic with their listings, they can't go a foot without plastering "Great for retro gaming" on their fucking CRT monitors! Everything is all just vintage gaming bullshit, not once does the thought of other old software like Photoshop or 3ds MAX come to mind. Gotta get mah GENUINE OPL!!! OH YEAH!!! I LOVE GIANT LONG VLB VIDEO CARD THAT HAS SO MUCH TROUBLE STAYING CONNECTED!!!
A certain auction for an Ad Lib Gold sound card being listed with a starting bid of $2,500 is what put the last nail in the coffin for me. It's especially disgusting because this card was featured in a video that was guaranteed to earn a ton of traffic. Given it was an auction, why didn't it start with a much lower opening bid? The viewers could be directed to the auction, and from there, at least only they could be blamed from driving the cost of a card like that up.
Back when I first got into old computers starting with my grandpa's 486, upgrading the living shit out of old computers was a thrilling journey in witnessing what they could really accomplish. Getting a PCI 486 motherboard and an S3 Trio64 video card for it was like "whoooaaa, look at how far this thing has come!" Then a couple years later, I started experimenting with networking these computers, eventually setting up a domain controller powered by Windows NT Server 4.0. It was far better than dealing with CD-ROMs and floppy disks, even USB flash drives couldn't match the level of convenience networking offered.
I wanted to show everyone what these old computers could really do through Hardcore Windows, but I guess most anyone else who had these old computers had different plans in mind... gaming, more gaming, yet more gaming, my MIDI boxes are better than yours. The retro tech scene stopped being about the joy and educational value of bringing old machines to life and started being more about money and materialism. What's a chipset? I don't know, I'm going to spend $800 on a computer to play Monkey Island and SimCity!!! HOLY SHIT WOW AN AMAZING NOSTALGIC START UP SOUND !!!!!!!
That's not to say I'm giving up on these computers I have, as I want to write programs for them myself. It's just fucking painful to see that there's so much more to old computers than video games, yet nobody cares. It's all about being dragged around by some giant YouTuber to the next obscure thing to price gouge. Shit like this is why I've completely avoided large YouTubers in recent years. I don't pay attention to them, I prefer videos from smaller channels that don't throw dumb bullshit into their videos.
I have no further use for YouTube as a creative platform. I've created all the videos I ever wanted to make, and I've mastered the art of creating a story about using Windows 95 in only 16 years. Do not ask me to make more videos; you're not getting anything from there anymore. For the last decade, this platform has been a source of constant misery, and more and more I was only going on there out of a bad habit rather than a desire. If you are throwing yourself into a panic over me exiting the video creation field, you have not been paying attention for the last two years.
This is something that I have been longing to do. I know I can make a much more powerful creation in a more advanced format. Viewers have decided to treat videos as disposable rather than everlasting, but they will come back to a game decades later if it's good enough. In YouTube's hostile landscape, making videos isn't worth the effort. The main reason why I struggled to leave before was because I wasn't quite satisfied with the state I left my channel in. With Project Sunfish topping everything off now, that is no longer a problem; I can finally allow myself to move on for real.
Quite ironic, though, that of the few who did come to understand my videos, some of them helped me grow yet more. Because of just one guy who took notice of my bizarre 240p Politics segments, we got together to do some collaborations, and I was compelled to finally stop being fat and start doing workouts. I used to be called fat all the time when I put myself out there in 2007 YouTube; now my body has an ideal form. His videos have a certain style unlike anything else I had ever seen, a style which Project Sunfish adapted. There was nobody else but him who could truly compel me to slim down, work out, and care about it. But none of this may have happened without these fucking YouTube videos I made, as hard as it is to admit.
Part of what drove me to eventually create Razorback were the ones following my works most closely, all which came from my videos. When I first teased the creation of this website, I wasn't sure if anyone would be interested in it, yet suddenly it seems to have become the Doom of websites, as its deliberately backwards compatible design has compelled numerous people to share screenshots of Razorback being rendered in all sorts of browsers and devices - an HP Jornada, a 3DS, and even browsers embedded into Counter-Strike and Team Fortress 2!
But if I can make a website that everyone wants to run on everything, well, why do I need YouTube anymore? I can go even further than this! Ditching YouTube is something to be embraced, as it means I will have much more time free for more productive things, with programming being a top priority. Other things I'd also like to do on the side are sewing and music creation, but we'll just have to see where those go.
Whenever I accumulate all the required knowledge for it, I think my next project will be an MS-DOS program, more specifically a stealth-ish real time combat game that's not quite an RPG, but has elements of such purely for those who are stuck. I really never cared for RPGs, only enjoyed playing Chrono Trigger, the Mother trilogy, and Undertale (unless you count Link's Awakening into the mix of RPGs; it does call itself one). But hey, maybe that's what's needed to create a kind of RPG for everyone. One should not have to grind so much if they know how to play the game!
For the story of this game, I intend to expand further on the concept of a water-based life simulation which was first pitched by Sunfish. Apart from that, this game will have no connection to any such figures of my channel's lore, in part because the lore is a fucking mess. All the ideas I put to action with my videos were extremely spontaneous, and used as a tesing ground for my writing. When I go to write the story for the next project, I want it to be fully polished.
I'd like to target turbo XT, AT, and 386SX systems with this game, essentially trying to go by 1989 Sierra On-Line standards. As I continue to improve my C programming skills, compiling the game with IA16-GCC would be my first choice, though I do have some concerns about it; the last few times I tried to use it, it didn't work. More than likely I just didn't set things up correctly and I ought to try again soon, but the last thing I want to do is resort to programming the whole thing in x86 assembly. Please. Even though I want to program it with DOS in mind, I also want to make it easily portable.
It's a giant, uncertain pitch to make, so I expect I'll have to work on much smaller DOS programming projects before then, but I've waited around far long enough. I may still find myself initially taking an extensive break after working on two giant videos for around six months together, but the future matters now more than ever. Those who have read this from start to finish and subscribed to the RSS feed should understand, but I imagine most of those still stubbornly sticking around in the YouTube wasteland will not.
For the most part, I do not miss my childhood at all, but every now and then I look back at the golden era of 2006-2009 and see all the crazy stuff I was inspired to do back then. I tell myself a lot that I want it back, but in order for it to come back, I'd have to get out there and grab it myself, and I will, no matter how long it takes.
Maybe at one point YouTube was a suitable cradle for us, but we all have grown, and so it has abandoned us in cold blood. We must fend for ourselves, hence we must make websites to surive, not accounts.
There is a slight chance you may see me pop up in other projects elsewhere in the distant future, but none of those will show up in my channel. Once again, I am completely done. I am liberated. I have no reason to make videos anymore. You can either get on board with this new route, or you can stay at the same desolate landscape where nobody ever acknowledges you or any of us.
It's so strange to think I'm gonna be turning away from YouTube after being stuck on it for so long, though. The first few months are going to be the most painful, but I will not succumb to digital withdrawl. Not this time. I will learn to program better, and already am. The best from me has yet to come, and once it does, you will know you never needed YouTube, or any video platform for that matter.
See you at the Lizard Republic.