Sometimes, it seems that the chief purpose of the internet is to allow people to argue with each other: a recreation, at global scale, of the intellectual mosh pit previously found mostly in college dorms.

YouTube – where I’ve been wasting considerable time, of late – is suffused with earnest young people (and a few older ones), arguing the Important Issues. The videos they post are generally disappointing.

Their production values are often quite wretched. The audio is ratty, or too faint to hear. The lighting is either too bright, or too dark. The narration is under-rehearsed, and unedited (so all the um…er…uh… are still there, disrupting the flow).

But those are quibbles. The real disappointment is in what they say, not how they say it. For any online debate, each side has a limited number of points to raise in its defense, a limited number of criticisms to lob at the other side(s); these are rapidly exhausted, and everything that happens afterward is just pointless churn.

A truly new idea in any of these debates is extremely rare.

Chess rules allow either player to claim a draw if the same arrangement of pieces on the board occurs three times in a single game. YouTube desperately needs a similar recognition of futility.

One thought on “Churn

  1. Pat Post author

    Probably the worst example of pointless churn is the JFK assassination conspiracy theorists’ endless mastication of the Zapruder film and the Warren Report, looking for the One Clue that will unravel the conspiracy.

    There’s a vast collection on YouTube of JFK videos, which likely could be condensed to a three-minute summary without significant loss of information. The conspiracy theorists don’t seem to realize they’re running in circles, arguing about Badge Man, Black Dog Man, This-That-and-the-Other Man, etc., etc.

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