Arguing on YouTube (Part 1)
I have a pseudonymous YouTube account for watching videos and leaving comments. For the past couple of years, I have been getting into occasional bouts of debates in video comments. Today, I'd like to explore why.
I remember being contentious with my family during high school. So whatever it is that prompts me into YouTube arguments is related to that.
The topics I argue about is usually related to the Bible. I was indoctrinated in Christianity until I was age 26. I studied the Bible in church, home school, Christian school, and college. During university I started looking into the Bible's origins. After graduating and moving to Japan, I continued by reading books by Biblical scholars. So I'm very knowledgeable in what it says. Ultimately, I stopped believing the Bible.
One reason I can think of is: now that I'm no longer Christian, it feels like all this accumulated knowledge is no longer useful. Wasted. But I can put it to use by arguing with Christians and pointing out the flaws in their beliefs. Why do this?
- residual evangelistic urges
- desire to show off how knowledgeable I am
- trying to prove why my current views on the Bible are superior
- triggered by religious trauma caused by Biblical teachings
- reaffirming that I have good reasons for my current stance
- improve my writing
- practice articulating my thoughts and research
- The same topics are brought up again and again. Each time, I try to make my arguments more concise and persuasive, like iterating on a draft, making adjustments based on how each idea was received in the past.
Doing this gives a thrill. When I was getting started with formulating my thoughts, it would get my adrenaline going. I would be nervous whenever I submitted a comment. I wasn't sure what kind of response I would get: name-calling? hate? an easy argument I could debunk? a hard argument I couldn't? I obsessively check the YouTube notification icon, dreading what I might face. Whenever I saw the red dot, my heart would start racing.
I've gotten enough practice now where I feel confident and courageous to face any kind of reply. I guess that's a positive outcome. (I'll explore more about the negatives of this "practice" tomorrow.)
This is a very time-consuming "pastime". It takes a lot of mental energy to articulate what I want to say. Interestingly, I can get into flow with this. When I get caught up in the mood, I often spend hours in a day, writing and rewriting hundreds of words per reply. Some of my comment threads have gone up to 100-200 comments.
When I started, many of my replies were incoherent blocks of text. Even I had trouble understanding what I was trying to say when I came back to read them later. Now my comments are formatted with italics, bold, line breaks, and simpler sentence structure. I quote the words that I am replying to. I try to go point-by-point, even sentence-by-sentence, trying to debunk as much of what they said as I can. I reference my second brain which has an archive of my previous comments and research to draw from. I can re-use arguments I wrote before, making the process a little quicker.
I wasted most of today responding to 3 different people.
Honestly, I hate this.
Continued in Part 2