Franchesca Ramsey Reminds The Internet That “You Don’t Always Need An Audience” For Your Arguments
In her VidCon keynote, YouTube personality and Decoded host Franchesca Ramsey made a curious appeal to her audience of internet-video stars: “When it comes to issues that matter in making a real, measurable difference, you don’t always need an audience.”
While acknowledging that she “fucking love[s] receipts” and has “probably spilt more tea than a Starbucks barista during an earthquake,” Ramsey pointed out that some confrontations will produce better results if they take place one-on-one.
“Disagreements are bound to happen, and some people need to get called out,” she said. “But too often when these conversations happen online, a simple misunderstanding or even the most thoughtful critique turns into a performance. It’s no longer about the issue, or even the other person for that matter. It’s all of a sudden about retweets, and likes, and views, and shares – and things get really messy, really quickly. And this has sadly become the new normal, especially on YouTube.”
“Clickbait will build an audience,” she continued, “but it doesn’t necessarily build change. And I cannot tell you how many times I’ve wished I could go back and call someone, or send them an email, or slide up in their DMs in order to squash an issue rather than dragging it out on my timeline. Sure, it takes more work, and you probably won’t get any subscribers out of it, but if that relationship means anything to you, if that issue means something to you, I think it’s actually worth it.”
Ramsey then shared a story about an issue of Decoded, in which she used an ill-advised comparison between public discourse around the Holocaust and public discourse around American slavery. She explained how, while the on-Twitter dragging helped her realize she was wrong, a Skype conversation with one of her critics was ultimately far more illuminating.
I often feel like criticisms of call-out culture can serve as window dressing for the idea that “marginalized people should just shut up,” but I really appreciated Ramsey’s point here. When the relationship with a person is important, or when the issue is one where you really believe the person can come around, it can definitely be worth it to approach them personally, rather than solely on your Twitter feed.
Shaming definitely has its place, especially when it comes to corporations and elected representatives. You don’t owe these powerful entities your compassion and emotional labor. But it’s also true that changing people’s minds and hearts will often require a more personalized, offline effort. And as long as we save that effort for the people and the issues who are worth it, those Skype and DM conversations can be a great tool for change.
(Via Twitter; image via screengrab)
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