Social Experiment: YouTube Comments
There’s a reason Twitter feeds like @AvoidComments exist. Comments can range from encouraging or crushing, and no where is that most true than on YouTube. YouTube comments bring in all walks of life, and those walks can be pretty nasty.
But thanks to an unplanned social experiment, I learned there’s hope!
I found out that if you respond to snarky comments with kindness, the original commentor takes back their words and apologizes. It worked 9 times out of 10, so far, and that’s not including the individual messages I’ve received on Twitter and through e-mail further lamenting their original post. It’s satisfying to know when confronted with genuine honesty, people revert to good manners.
When I’m tasked to review games, it’s often just for the written version to be posted on a website. We live in a digital world where people consume video content more these days, which has bumped up my responsibilities to capturing footage and tracking time codes for video reviews. I cover every step of the process except for the voice over, because although I’ve podcasted for a few years, VO is a field I’m not familiar with.
I’ve always wanted to voice over my own reviews; they’re my words, but often the individual reading them in the video gets the credit instead. Which is why when Polaris asked me to review Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare, I agreed I’d cover the VO portion too. Not realizing what I was getting myself into…
The quality of the audio was bad thanks to the openness of my studio and the mic itself. No amount of takes and edits could remedy the sheer nervousness and blandness of my actual performance. It was just… awful, and I knew it the more I played it back to myself. But I had agreed to do the VO, so I recorded it and sent it to Polaris, making sure to note that I completely understand (and actually encourage) not using my VO. They decided to use it anyway, and Polaris’ community let me know how bad of an idea that was.
I wasn’t ready for what would be said about me. A few of the terms used were soulless, robot, emotionless vegetable, etc. Some thought I needed to be put on antidepressants. Others were afraid I sounded like I was going to hang myself. A number of commentors tried to be positive and said if reviewing games doesn’t work out I can always do relaxation videos and sad documentaries!
All in all, it was crushing.
Thankfully, however, the community at Polaris is different than, say, Machinima. While a majority of the comments did mention they disliked my VO work, others made sure to state that it’s okay for my first time. Those people were the ones that encouraged me to leave some comments of my own.
I decided I should poke fun at myself instead of taking it all too personally, so I left a long comment explaining what happened. The result wasn’t grand: it didn’t change the dislike ratio of the video or stop newcomers from letting me have it, but the few that did notice my comment were very supportive and sweet. In fact, one YouTuber reposted my comment to make sure everyone saw it, stating that it’s nice when someone like me actually interacts with the community.
As you can see, people can be nice! At least when they’re confronted by the person they’re directing their mean comments to. There was one exception, but he lost steam after I kept replying to him as well.
Despite the odd experience, I’m happy that out of it all I learned people are nice on the internet, it’s just hard to see past the knee-jerk reaction comments.