The trolls of sailing YouTube video creators (or creators in general)

You can’t get more niche than being a critic and troll of the YouTube sailing community and they are legion. When you consider according to the USCG/NMMA that 95% of the boats in use are under 26 feet and tailorable power boats. And, that sailboats are just shy of one percent at 0.9% or registered vessels you get an idea of just how small the group dynamic of YouTube Sailing Channels creators is going to likely represent. There is a lot of big fish little pond thinking around the actual demographics. We’re not talking huge audiences in the first place and it is literally possible to know almost everybody in the space.

Like other expensive, generally niche lifestyles, and cultish activities, sailing itself draws a horde of people with strong opinions, inflated egos, and sometimes nasty dispositions. Attend a race protest meeting of a small club to see just how bad this can get. Cruisers have the “bitch wings” stance to show dissatisfaction of others in an anchorage. The forms of community anger are kind of amazing.

Then enter the trolls. You must think about the nature of trolls and what they are doing. They are commenting on a product they had no hand in making, they have not spent money to view, that is opt in to view, and often they don’t watch. That makes the average troll a moron for even offering an opinion. The response to this is “freedom of speech” which of course is not universal, does not apply to social media posts, and is generally harmful. Nor is the refrain of moderators or administrators genuine in that they will tamp down on trolls.

You see views, clicks, subscribers and such are the ego boost and represent mind share to both the owners of social media boards and the trolls. Behind the scenes on unrelated messaging platforms trolls will coordinate, collaborate and communicate about how they are going to “take down” some entity. This kind of Internet bullying has been going on since the early days of the Internet. Swatting (calling in high risk crimes at somebody’s house getting them shot by police) and doxing (dumping personal information about a person or entity) and slander or libel are the last bastions and where many of these troll situations end up.

The statements of trolls are ritualized in that they are touchstones to cultural sensitivities that have nothing to do with the actual content of sailing YouTube channels. Here is a short list you will find almost like blocks of code represented in commenters behavior on Facebook and other social media platforms.

  1. “I don’t watch that channel because it has too much T and A” where T and A represents tits and ass and now we have somebody commenting that has actually said I don’t watch that content and I know they have too much content of something I don’t watch. The illogic of the statement is proof of the moron behind the keyboard. It is generally said by a male and show a certain level of self-repression.
  2. “That channel is a bikini channel” where the word bikini stands in for objectification of the female form. Creators of sailing channels have a skew to sail in tropical environments, warm water, shallow water, blue azure waters, and film during the day. There are a few other channels but if your environment is the tropics, you’re not going to be buried in foulies. The statement by a troll is one of supreme ignorance of the activity and shows a misogynistic viewpoint that has little to do with the actual content of a video.
  3. “All of those sailors are having babies” or “I don’t like boats with kids” This is usually followed by some subtle slur against the legitimacy of the sailing couple. Once again and likely forever the troll may not even be watching any sailing videos. The joy derived by the troll is from being negative and getting responses. It also misses the point you have 20 somethings in their prime childbearing years, in generally tropical locations, where clothing is optional or minimal, for long periods of time in proximity, and romantically entangled long before they arrived. I am aghast at the statement of humans doing human things as wrong. I mean what would the average moronic troll expect. Puppies? I then realized that young couples having babies was an in your face to the incel community man of the trolls who likely don’t even have girlfriends. A baby is actual representation of people having sex and in the repressed culture of trolls that is bad. Children in general are to be mocked, derided, and objectified as errant objects showing the trolls own inadequacies in relationship building.
  4. “I could be a great sailor if I had that much money” or “Credit card sailors are ….” Here we have a standard behavior of trolls using social justice cues while being moronic. The criticism is somebody is just paying for their way of life and not struggling through some artificial set of boundaries. The troll is trying to use the cues of self-sufficiency while mixing in a bit of evil establishment cues. The reality is that the troll is leaking information of about their insolvency or lack. In general, anybody talking about boating is talking expensive. Those who are trying to maintain especially cheap lifestyles on the water are admirable, but few are going to live penniless unless they must.
  5. “They’re not actual sailors.” Or “They have a production crew”, Or “They never get off the dock” These are all threads of thinking that lead to the same place. First, you have to think by word choice used by trolls do they actually have any skin in the game. Why would you comment in this way about something you likely haven’t even watched, is free, must opt in, and has zero chance of effecting you until you make a comment? The demographics of the sailing YouTube channel creators is fascinating (for another post) but here you see buckets trolls (and people in general) use to ritualize criticism.

These are just a few examples of troll behavior. It’s simple to parse this out and take any week on a social media forum, Facebook, or What’s App group and you will see these ritualized attacks prosecuted against channels. Take a broad enough sample set and you could write the commenters post for them when a creator posts or somebody posts a link to a creator’s work. It’s ritual. Not thinking or criticism.

Because the behaviors of trolls in general are ritual and part of a pseudo religious experience you can’t change them, mold them, or get them to act right, due to the fact you are talking about a tiny niche of a tiny segment of a tiny community. Social media platforms cannot expect to sustain as abandonment rate increases and troll behavior becomes more brazen. You can see this by looking at historical trends in troll versus non-troll comments month to month over the life of a forum. People may not “leave” (you can’t delete your account from many social media platforms) but the engagement level of non-trolls rapidly drops off and there is worse the creators leave. In social media you can be a delivery platform, aggregator platform, commenting platform, or hybrid of these.

Creators need audience engagement. Every creator goes through cycles of content delivery interruptions and social issues. 2020 has been especially bad for creators. In the YouTube sailing video creator space you add in the horrific nature of the sea to destroy, the time and finances, and a litany of technology issues. I’m surprised anybody wants to create in this space.

Administrators of the various commenting platforms have a few choices. They can accept the wild west format and have little criticism from the commentariat. They will see creator abandonment increase while seeing trollishness increase. The administrators and moderators of commenting platforms can take a heavy hand and “insta-ban” anybody who engages in “uninformed” (read Troll) criticism of a creator. This goes against several cultural cues but may in fact become the law in the future if not done in some meaningful way now.

Communities that want to engage creators must set internal norms and should not rely on administrator or moderator activities to protect them. Participants should simply ban trolls, feel free to tell the world you are blocking a troll, it will bring awareness to the behavior of a troll and landslide. Blocking/banning a troll removes their one ego feeding boost of an audience.

Simple list for administrators, creators, and moderators to check comments

  1. I never watch that channel. If true all other commentary is baseless and skews heavy troll.
  2. Never/Always/Forever language of superlatives is fine but is a significant indicator towards troll behavior when focused on negatives.
  3. Any objectification of women is an instant red flag. We’re not talking about referring to a woman as beautiful, sexy, stunning or such. We’re talking about body part statements “tits, ass, butt” assigned to a verb “flashing, showing” It’s about harming the social status of a woman it is not critique of content.

 

None of the troll identifiers exist in a vacuum. We as a species trend towards a certitude in our opinion. As such I reflect on the hysterical rush to be offended by most people and the relationship of that behavior regarding trolls.

For the creators of content of any type and some general viewpoints I have on life. I suggest the book “The subtle art of not giving a F*ck: A counterintuitive approach to living a good life” by Mark Manson. The giving, creating, soul enrichening activity of creation of content and art of any type should not be stymied. As a creator you will go through some level of growth only attained by putting idea out into the real world. The growth may or may not mean you can pay your way through life. It, however, may make the world a better place. Brining joy, happiness, introspection, or even fear to others can subtly shift the worlds viewpoint.

You can look at the creator/troll paradigm a few ways. One simplistic and socially challenging way to look at it is simple. There is nothing godlier than the act of creation of ideas, concepts, and art. There is nothing eviler than the destruction of ideas, concepts and art. It is extremely hard to create and woefully easy to destroy. Though this metaphorical device is rife with dangerous social and cultural cues there is a final element to it. Administrators and moderators only need take no action in preservation of creator communities than take no taction at all. In the end that may be the evilest thing of all.