I don’t remember exactly when it was, or who exactly said it, but I once heard someone say that the problem with this generation is that we think our opinions matter. I heard this in passing a while ago, but for some reason, it still stuck with me. Apparently though, that person was not the only one to think this is true. After taking a dive on Google, I stumbled upon this subreddit thread where the creator expressed that social media makes people think their opinion matter too much. And there were some people who also agreed with him in the comments.
We live in a new age where everything that we do and say and think is documented and, most of the time, shared with other people on social media platforms. Sharing our opinions online has gotten to a point where people could make a career off of it. I mean, look at what’s popular on YouTube. There are hundreds of creators who make commentary videos about social issues. User @ObviousQuality in the reddit post above used racism as an example. When people notice that their opinions are getting a lot of likes or a lot of people in their comments agree with them, they start to think that their opinions are absolute truths, or at least other people start to think their opinion are absolute truths. I started to wonder if that also applies to those commentary creators on YouTube.
I am myself an avid watcher of commentary videos and I’m also subscribed to a couple of commentary channels, so I’m not trying to say that I’m opposed to commentary entertainment. What I started to notice recently though, is that the bigger a creator’s audience is, the more their audience start to subconsciously put them on a pedestal. For example, there is one YouTuber called D’Angelo Wallace who gained a massive following after making a commentary videos on the drama that happened between beauty guru’s Tati Westbrook and James Charles. There were tons of people who liked the video, and D’Angelo gained a pretty big following of people who supported his commentaries. Mind you, this is someone who was not very well-known before and is not an expert in anything as far as I know, but was able to attract a lot of people just by expressing his opinions. After several of his videos were positively received, he started to gain a reputation as a “cancellation catalyst, pouring gasoline on outrage directed at internet stars” (Insider, 2020). And there are a lot of other creators on YouTube who do the exact same thing. While there is a positive side to these kind of videos, there also exists the risk of (miss)guiding your audience into sharing your opinions, and presenting it as absolute facts. D’Angelo Wallace has been very clear that his videos are solely his own opinions, and that he wants people to realize that he is not the beacon of absolute objectivity. However, I do feel that because of his growing audience, he is sort of put on a pedestal when it comes to critiquing other YouTubers or talking about other social issues.
In my opinion (haha), I don’t think there is anything fundamentally wrong with our generation expressing our opinions more often. It think it’s actually about time that we do; we should especially be more critical and vocal about injustices that exists in our societies. However, I do realize that there is a risk of putting big commentators on YouTube or other platforms on a pedestal for their opinions. Most of the time when someone is always so well-received by the public, we forget that they could and should also be subjected to critique if necessary.
Subreddit thread “Social media makes people think their opinion matter too much”. 2018:
Insider article The era of A-list YouTube celebrities is over. Now, the people cancelling them are on top. 2020: https://www.insider.com/dangelo-wallace-interview-youtube-shane-jeffree-tati-drama-channels-2020-9