Activism and Internet Monetization, or Why The Internet Was a Mistake

Ok, maybe not a complete mistake. But you still shouldn't listen to social justice writers who are crowd-funded or make money through ads. And here's why.

How Internet Monetization Works These Days

Oftentimes I see older people confused about how people can make money on the internet, considering all content online tends to be free. If you are like these older people, or need a refresher, read on. Otherwise, feel free to skip this section, as nothing in it will be particularly useful to you.

When people want to make money on the internet, they tend to try a combination of the following 3 methods:

  • Crowd Funding- Most commonly associated with kickstarter, nowadays most content creators instead use a site called Patreon which allows users to donate a set amount every month to said creator. This gives that creator a stable income to live off of as opposed to needing to ask for more money for every project. 
    • Patreon is also a form of funding for more niche or otherwise unmonetizable content. As a result, the platform is incredibly diverse. In the top ten creators on the site, there are educators, podcasters, video game developers, musicians, and professors.
  • Ads- This is what most people think of when they think about monetizing online content. CGP Grey(a creator of educational videos funded through patreon who makes 20k per video. No lie) has a great video about the subject here.
  • Sponsorships- Similar to ads, these are embedded advertisements in content that the content creator negotiates directly with the advertiser. For instance, on a podcast there may be a brief interlude to talk about how great audible is. The main difference between these and ads are that ads are chosen by the platform the content creator is on, while sponsorships are chosen by the creator themselves.
Alright, cool, everyone on the same page? Good. Now let's move on to why the internet is trash.

YouTube is an Awful Platform Because of Monetization

Argumentation requires two things
  • The ability to represent your own side cogently and accurately
  • Openness to your opponent's views and a willingness to change yours
I will not disupte that YouTube is a great platform for the former. The availability and usability of video technology has led to a renaissance of online media creation. But I will argue that YouTube and crowdfunding of activists/online social justice video makers disincentivizes being open to an extreme degree.

At its core, viewer or crowd funding relies on having one of two things: lots of viewers, or highly engaged viewers. As such, anyone who wants to make money online has to have a lot of viewers, or have highly engaged viewers(duh). For social justice video creators, oftentimes this means creating a group of like minded followers who will donate, watch every video you make, etc... 

These followers will most likely agree with what you say, or at least the ones who donate/make you money will. After all, I doubt most people would donate to someone they vehemently disagree with.

Thus, when discussing anything social justice related, there is a dilemma. Do I risk changing my mind, and thus alienating those who make me money? Or do I stick my fingers in my ears, continue preaching to my choir, and keep making money?

YouTubers have a direct incentive to never change their minds about anything(or at least say openly that they've changed their mind). If you had to literally lose money every time you changed your political opinion, would you ever change your mind? I probably wouldn't. I actually am reasonably sure that content creators who have been on YouTube for years have changed their minds about politics, and just haven't said so to avoid any backlash and monetary loss.

I have no real constructive way to fix this. The closest thing to a solution I have is to ignore all crowdfunded political content creators, but that will become less and less feasible as old media dies and new media rises. Remain skeptical friends, and remember. The internet was a mistake.


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