Previous: Henry
Next: The Panera Phenomenon



View count:235,483
Last sync:2023-09-23 21:45
It's a messy place, and it has taken me a very long time to start to get good at this, and I think it's been easier for me than for a lot of people, but once I got better at it, things got way way way easier.

Subscribe to our newsletter!
And join the community at
Help transcribe videos -
Learn more about our project to help Partners in Health radically reduce maternal mortality in Sierra Leone:
If you're able to donate $2,000 or more to this effort, please join our matching fund:
If you're in Canada, you can donate here:
John's twitter -
Hank's twitter -
Hank's tumblr -
Good morning, John.

I have been on the internet for a long time now and I've also watched a lot of other people be on the internet for a long time, and it seems like, though I appreciate constant calls to "oh God, oh God, just please go touch some grass," we are going to all continue being on the internet—despite the fact that we are not particularly good at it. So, since we can't stop, the only choice we have is to get better at it. And thus, I would like to give you my absolute number one tip to people putting their thoughts on the internet, whether it's a tweet to your 200 followers or a YouTube video to 2 million.

A piece of understanding that absolutely every early creator, including myself, gets wrong and that I have seen result in the end of a bunch of careers before it was time for them to end. Listen carefully. Listen closely. If you make something that reaches a very large number of people, you will hear every single conceivable thought, reaction, and opinion that a human person in our culture could have. The axiom of virality: The larger the reach of your content the larger, the pool of takes.

This is just a statistical fact. Any piece of content has a potential pool of thousands of reactions people could have to it, but some of them are extremely uncommon. Now the most common ones are probably the ones that you will see first, though of course, there's always a chance that you'll get an uncommon one first which would be great if they were Pokémon cards, but they're not.

The uncommon ones often have two very bizarre attributes. First, they are more likely to be silly and wrong and thus they should be ignored. And second, they are more likely to shock you and others and so, they are harder to ignore. So, people reply to them and they engage with them, which many modern algorithms see as increasing engagement, increasing the time you're spending on the platform, and thus the less common worse opinions are often intentionally promoted. But the uncommon opinion does not deserve to be the center of attention because it is far outside of the center of opinion; If it weren't, it would not have been so shocking. The only reason it even exists is because the piece of content in question reached so many people that it is not only likely, but guaranteed to receive extremely weird takes.

In my opinion, and there are other opinions here, but in my opinion as a person who's been doing this for a long time, the only thing to do with those bizarre takes is to see them as fringe weirdness, and when we see them think, "Oh, that one's weird" like it were a particularly ugly frog. Some reactions are impossible not to harp on, not to be disturbed by even. And the pool of potential takes is different for different creators which makes this job harder for certain kinds of people.

If I had to deal with half of what I've seen some of my friends who are women or black people deal with, I would just have quit. I would not do this anymore. But I don't know how to stop the takes from coming, I only know that the takes will come. So if you can find a way to have them matter less or not at all, you should. Because if you have a piece of content that goes very viral and you find yourself astounded by some of the takes it receives, remember people are very weird. You know this. You've met them. If your Tweet reached 10 million people, you will see every possible confusion, every possible bad faith interpretation, every single possible reaction. And the fact that the reaction exists doesn't mean it should matter to you. We're not designed to be good at receiving reactions of a crowd of tens of millions of people, and figuring out how to classify some things as like, "Oh God, just go touch some grass. I'm not going to pay attention to you" takes and the ones that are legitimate useful criticism that I should be paying attention to is honestly possibly the hardest part of this job.

I've been doing it for a very long time and I'm still working at getting better at it. But one thing I can say to every creator out there, the mere fact that a take exists does not mean that it is worthy of even one neuron of your brain focusing on it.

John, I'll see you on Tuesday.