Gongol.com Archives: May 2023

Brian Gongol

May 13, 2023

Computers and the Internet Crash for clicks

The path to YouTube stardom has been taken by some people through some ridiculous journeys. One used corpses as props. Another leaned on antisemitism and sexism in his rise to the top of the charts. ■ And now, one dope has been convicted of obstructing a Federal investigation by destroying the evidence that he intentionally crashed an airplane for clicks. He didn't just crash the plane, he filmed himself parachuting out -- and then covered up the evidence of the hoax. ■ The Internet almost certainly hasn't increased the total number of bad people among us. But it has increased the number of opportunities and incentives for bad people to do things that probably ought to get them launched straight into the Sun. ■ Internet stardom has made some people very rich: One top revenue-generator brought in $54 million in 2021. Others have brought in tens of millions of dollars annually, too. For a line of work someone can enter with nothing more than a smartphone, those numbers are alluring. ■ But there's also generally no "coming up the ranks" -- it's not like the typical path to success in other lines of work, where one pays their dues in the early phase of a career, learns harder skills from their seniors along the way, and rises to the top after years of grinding. No, this is a field in which lots of people are shamelessly willing to offer YouTuber camps for kids at rates of $1,000 a week or more. A breakout success can mean almost instant riches, but breaking out often requires doing things well outside the mainstream. ■ And it's the counter-mainstream quality that can unintentionally reward the bad people far more often than it should. By raising the incentives to engage in extreme or shocking behavior, YouTube (and lots of other platforms similar to it) decidedly increases the exposure for those who are willing to "go there" in ways others wouldn't. There's no intuitive solution to the problem, but it's one we shouldn't ignore.

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