Tuesday, 1 December 2015

5madheathens and The New Breakfast Club

Hi guys, welcome to Orygyn!

Before you do anything else, I would really appreciate it if you check out this YouTube channel. No, I'm not in any way involved with it. It's just a new channel that I've come to subscribe to. It's a collab channel in which 7 YouTubers upload videos talking about something. Most are remnants of, or channels springing from the ashes of, what used to be the YouTube atheist community, if you believe there ever was such a thing. This is the 2nd incarnation of a collab channel of this name, the 1st one being shut down due to drama that occurred on the channel. I don't know what happened, as I was never subscribed to that version of it. Paul (YouTube user "gothatfunk"), a member of the first incarnation, created the 2nd around the same idea but emphasized his unwillingness to let the new version succumb to drama. This is what I want to focus on in this post. I'm writing this from the perspective of someone who was in a collab channel.

Back in "ought-nine", I was in a collab channel called 5madheathens. This was a similar idea, except sticking to weekdays and focusing on mainly philosophical topics. Now, before I go any further, the channel did not succumb to drama. No-one, to my knowledge at least, fell out over anything to do with the channel. None of the others have uploaded videos recently, but, in my last interactions with everyone involved, we were all on good terms. I did learn lessons though, which I hope can benefit the new Breakfast Club, and anyone else who is likely to participate in a collab channel in the future.

5madheathens had a number of lineup changes during its existence. I came in on episode 32. The way our channel worked was that we would take it in turns to pose a question to the rest of the members, and we would then answer it on our set day. After it got back to the person posing the question, he or she would then give their own take on the subject and, usually, say something about the others' responses. When I joined the channel, the subject was "What Do You Fear". Now, due to the format of the channel, confronting each others viewpoints was pretty much essential. People would commonly express their own opinions by comparing them with others, focusing on how theirs differed from the others. This is where my greatest lesson will come from.

The standard of discussion was very high. The majority of times someone mentioned others, it was to praise the things they'd said. With the exception of the person who referred me (and I'm not watching all 100+ videos to see if there was a time) I'm struggling to think of a single instance in which my views were praised. They were mostly criticized. I must emphasize here that I don't feel like I was singled out, and I don't have any resentment towards any of the members for any reason. My intelligence, however great or small it is, is something that matters to me greatly. I think I was just the idiot of the group.

I had a look at some of my videos on the channel and the ones I saw were cringe-worthy. I was just shy of 20. I was still relatively new to YouTube, and I was very much in my "badly rip-off the dynamic and manic style of the most famous YouTubers" phase. It did quite well in terms of viewership but, as pop stars repeatedly teach us by example, highest numbers don't mean best. A lot of the discussions involved debating the meaning of certain words like "love", "lie", "life" etc. and I've never been that great at, or even interested in, semantic discussions. In fact, my question "how reliable is language" can be interpreted as a veiled challenge to this. Still, I didn't do that much better on the other questions either.

Because of all this, and I don't think I've mentioned this to anyone before, the later episodes of the channel were almost like torture. Because my intelligence mattered so much to me, as it still does, I became consumed with constructing responses that were more insightful. Mostly, however, this just led me to making really stupid comments: one of the worst was when we were talking about how often we lie. At the time, I was at university, I had very few friends there, and I wasn't that talkative in general, so even with my family, I didn't say very much. What I did was to be absurdly literal and take comments like "there's nothing on" (my brother was asking what was on TV) as examples, and, of course, I was called out. I got more and more disenchanted with the channel, but I don't think I ever said anything. The channel fizzled out before I did say anything, as most people were not in a position to commit to weekly videos.

So what's the lesson? On a collab channel based on sharing ideas, criteria that both 5madheathens and The Breakfast Club meet, there will be disagreements. All of the Breakfast Club members understand this premise. They will also have insecurities that could lead to them being too competitive about the level of insight of their views, too emotionally invested in a particular view that can be challenged, or they may even have triggers. The Breakfast Club, by its very nature, consists of diverse members (other than their loose affiliation with the atheist community), and so maximizes the extent to which these insecurities can generate drama. Depending on the personalities of the participants, they could get expressed very vocally, or in a more passive-aggressive way (you could argue my 5madheathens video "how reliable is language" is an example of this), or through silent seething until it all comes out at once.

I am excited about the future of the Breakfast Club and I want it to succeed. I hope nothing I've said here gives anyone the opposite impression. I'm writing this post to make the point that it may not be the ideas themselves that generate drama and so it's not enough to just agree to be civil. That's a good step of course. What's better still is to take The Oracle's advice: know thyself. Know what pisses you off. Know what you deeply care about. Know what traits you value and despise in yourself and others. And when it comes to your ideas, know your shit (my mistake with 5madheathens was a grammatical misunderstanding of this maxim: "know you're shit"), but not to the point that it becomes a competition.

Remember, none of you have simple minds.


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