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In this episode, Chelsea has a candid conversation with YouTuber and author Lindsay Ellis about being canceled online, the negative impact of platforms like Twitter, and how we can all have better interactions online.

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Hello, everyone.

Welcome to the channel. It's me Chelsea Fagan, your intrepid host, founder, and CEO of The Financial Diet.

I thought a lot about how I would want to have this conversation with our guest today, because she is someone that those of you who have followed the channel for a while know we have worked with on several occasions, our guest YouTuber, film critic, author, video essayist, Lindsay Ellis is someone who made among other things, a four video series back in January of 2020 for TFD called Prop Culture Portfolio, where she explores the intersection of money and pop culture, how money is represented in media, et cetera. It's a series that we're all very proud of and that has gotten a great reception from you guys. But she is also someone who this year has been on the receiving end of what we will call an imperfect parlance of cancellation sparked from a few tweets, which I think you'll see as the conversation unfolds we're probably not taken in the best of faith.

She was at one point the number one worldwide trending topic, as people from both her personal, professional, and totally anonymous internet lives sort of all came down on her at once, in again what we can only really describe in our imperfect parlance as a cancellation. People were digging up all kinds of old tweets of hers, coming out with sort of I knew it type language about her, and generally giving her a very, let's just say, uncharitable interpretation of her intentions, both with the initial tweet and with the subsequent sort of digging on her. When this was happening obviously as someone who's known Lindsay for a while, who's worked with her, who admires her work, who's a consumer of her work myself, I was extremely uncomfortable.

I felt, obviously on a human level very badly for her. But I also more generally felt very bad for good creators on this platform. As you guys probably know if you're consumers of YouTube, there's a lot of really bad and noxious shit on this website.

There's a lot of stuff on here that genuinely radicalizes people towards all kinds of nefarious ends. There's tons of misinformation. There's tons of polarized demonization of oppositions along political and social lines.

There's content that also is just a huge waste of time that's not very thoughtful, that's not very well made, that doesn't inspire the best of us. And so a creator like Lindsay who has spent years making really thoughtful, intelligent criticism about film and television, who's entertained us, who's educated us, whose work has been featured in literal college curriculums, especially for female creators, there's just not a ton of them out there. And creating an online environment where there are more people creating content like Lindsay's is one of my primary goals with the limited platform that I have on the internet.

My domain happens to be money. I want people to talk about it and think about it more thoughtfully. And I want more voices, who have a thoughtful, nuanced, and humane take on personal finance to emerge.

So when I saw what was happening to Lindsay, the thing that worried me on a more existential level was what is this experience going to teach to other young creators, especially women creators, about the risks and rewards of putting yourself out there in the way that Lindsay had. This situation has obviously been taking a huge mental and emotional toll on Lindsay. And quite frankly I'm very honored that she was willing to sit down and talk with us about it and to be so candid about the financial realities of that experience.

Overall, our conversation, to be totally honest, left me a little disheartened, only because seeing the visible toll that kind of experience can take on a creator with a body of work as long and positively impactful as Lindsay's can, doesn't inspire a huge amount of confidence for the future of our discourse or these platforms. But if nothing else, I hope that in watching this conversation and hearing from Lindsay, we can all be a little bit more thoughtful and maybe honestly a little bit more hesitant and conscientious about how we interact online with people and ideas that we might not like. We don't necessarily have to only ever be positive.

I think toxic positivity is bad too. But I think that there are ways to interact with these ideas and people that not only treat them as human beings, but also take a much wider lens to the totality of their work, what they're putting out in the world, how they're changing their little corner of the internet for the better or the worse. I hope you guys will enjoy this conversation with Lindsay and find it as eye-opening as I did.

And in the meantime, of course, don't forget to check out all of the wonderful work that she's created both here on TFD and on her own channels down in the description. Without further ado, my chat with Lindsay. Hello.

Hello. Welcome. Welcome to fabulous, sunny LA.

The weather's better here. It just is what. It's not been bad in New York, I have to say.

Oh, yeah? So you've had quite a year. What's been going on?

Let's see. Well, I have a book coming out in October. This is your second book?

This is my second book, which is a sequel to the first book, Axiom's End, which came out last year. The paperback of that comes out in July. Yeah, I guess I'm best known right now for having been the top trend worldwide twice in the space of a month for-- I don't know how would you describe it, accusations of racism.

You know, it's always awkward. We're just like where there's smoke, there's fire. Right.

So you were as you're sort of tepidly describing it, canceled in the parlance this year. Can you tell us what happened? Well, I did make a video on it.

For those of you who haven't seen, it's called Mask Off. It's like the second most recent video on my channel. But basically I'm primarily known as a film critic.

A lot of times I would just pop off opinions of whatever I had just seen. And basically I wouldn't even say there are two unpopular opinions in a row, but neither I would particularly walk back. One was just about Soul, and how I thought it was weirdly pro-life.

And a lot of people started to get agitated about that like oh, so you just don't like movies starring people of color. And I'm like um. And then the one I really got in trouble for was about Raya and the Last Dragon, a movie that nobody saw, including the people who started the dog pile, which maybe they didn't intend for that to happen, but that was what happened.

And I said something to the tune of it was like half of all YA that had been published in the last five years. And obviously that was hyperbole, but it was also kind of true, like most of the YA fantasy I've read in the last five years is very obviously influenced by Avatar the Last Airbender. And so the narrative became like oh, since they're both Asian-inspired, you're implying that all Asian inspired things are the same genre.

I did exactly what you're not supposed to do because this basically happened while I was asleep. And I woke up and saw people were like I can't believe you said this. And I'm like-- even now, I have a really hard time getting into the headspace where that interpretation made sense So I did exactly what you're not supposed to do and got defensive and tried to explain myself, which you should never, ever, ever do.

And well it kind of snowballed from there. And then I was just honestly really furious, because a lot of people would say that it's like it's just Twitter Puritans who like need to feel powerful. And that was absolutely not true.

There were like some blue checkmarks that got in, people I've actually worked with, that just basically were like oh, you know, this sounds this seems fun, even though like almost nobody who had joined in on this conversation was familiar with the media in question. And if I still sound defensive about it, it's because I am, because I've seen so many people be like, why didn't you address the valid criticism? And I'm like I don't know what to tell you man, I disagree that it's valid.

I just don't think it's valid. So I'm not going to address it. And me being nice is not naming names, which was sort of even then was called a bully for even alluding to people or using tweets that people made about me while still blocking out their names, but basically I deleted my Twitter account.

And that was what made me trend. It wasn't the original tweet. It was me deleting my Twitter account.

Right, because it was like they pushed her off. Yeah. And so the narrative became I was chased off of Twitter.

And I'm just sort of well, obviously it was my choice to delete my Twitter account, but I can't say there's no truth to that, where I felt like there were so many people that were just waiting for the excuse to topple me. And again, there is some truth to that. Absolutely, people gleefully joined in or else there wouldn't have been this like dossier of bad problematic takes I've made over the last 13 years just ready and waiting to go, which was also another thing that happened, because most people that saw the tweet were just like I don't understand why is it such a big deal.

And so then people, in order to kind of justify this reaction, were like oh no, but here's the dossier of every iffy thing she has said in the last 13 years. So yeah, I don't know. It's just sort of on the one hand, yeah it is absolutely true that it was my decision.

But on the other hand, you can only take so much before you just like I can't do this anymore. I can't be people's scapegoat for the unjustness of the world. So you know what's interesting about this is that I talked to a couple of people before I interviewed you including people who work in our own company, but I would say that basically none of our employees are very online, like they work online but they're very like not in it.

It's very hard to explain. To every single person that I talk to about this, like I even told my Spanish tutor about it and she was like Que? This does not make sense.

And I think what's so incredible about it to me is not so much what you were taken to task over, because I do think we've seen very, very spurious inciting incidents, but I do think it's a total flattening of what is this person's intent. What does the totality of their work point toward? Obviously I think most people who are familiar with you are familiar with you because of your film criticism, which is usually, if anything, fairly politically neutral.

But anyone who's a little bit more familiar with-- By YouTube standards, I am hard left, like a Maoist. But I think a more casual viewer would be like Oh, I saw a video about like Jurassic park. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

But I do think anyone with enough familiarity about you to have been part of that discourse is clearly aware of the fact that when it comes to economic and social policies and things of that nature, you're clearly a long well-established advocate for progressive cause. I saw so many people that really had the most bizarre takes that were just like she said this one thing or used this one tone like five years ago and I knew it. Basically it was all like I always knew this was going to happen.

I remember someone called me like rote film school anodyne live journal film criticism. One that just basically was mad about like the follower count and how I should know better. I mean to me, it was just like illustrative about how performative a lot of these like canceling are, because I'm like do you actually believe this or are you just doing this for dunk points, because you think that this is a safe bet, that I'm just going to remain unpopular on Twitter forever.

You know, because there's just something incredibly like you don't actually care, but you do want some clout for being on the right side of whatever the issue is of the day. Did you interact with any of those people like face to face. Absolutely not.

No. No, fuck them. Right I fell like that, especially if it's someone that you worked with her you knew in a real capacity, I feel like that would be pretty hard to maintain in a one on one conversation.

No, no. just like honestly, because I see some people that try to silver lining it but like not even me. I've seen this happen so many times. A lot of times too, like very close friends.

And this whole process has just made me so cynical. Like whenever I see someone on Twitter say anything, I just assume this is some sort of performance. You're just doing this for clout.

You don't actually believe anything. Like It has just completely-- I have no faith in like this idea of accountability anymore. Well I mean, I think part of the issue is that when it's at scale, all intention is flattened and all punishment is sort of equalized.

There's no-- even if you in your mind perceive yourself as engaging in a measured way, if you're a million people engaging at once, that can't be perceived as measured. I think one thing that always worries me about this is I do feel that often the targets of these kinds of phenomena are the people who are likely to in some way be most receptive to it. You mentioned the fact that you engaged, which is the thing you should never do.

And I think that's probably true. But I also think that the reason why it can be so much more effective to dog pile people who ostensibly probably share a lot of your values and a lot of your political beliefs is because they are going to some extent feel beholden to it. They're going to be affected, whereas fucking Tom Cotton, like that monster's out there making people's lives measurably worse every day.

He doesn't give a fuck. Donald Rumsfeld died, an old man safe in his bed right. And they couldn't care less, like they thrive off of it and they're-- Ben Shapiro I think has a humiliation fetish.

I think he actually gets off on-- Let's just say that man has a lot of weird fetishes. I think he loves it. He sees himself and people dunking on him he's like oh, yes.

He loves it. But how do you reconcile having a cynicism about it, which I think I would probably share if I were in your position with not wanting to become a poster child for the people who on their end cynically want to dismiss all criticism as being just a part of a mob. I don't know.

I don't honestly think that should be my responsibility. If you're trying to balance optics and how your narrative will be weaponized against the left, which absolutely happened-- It did? Yeah, old friend of the family Sargon.

That man is still alive? Because we always know every time he does a podcast episode about me, his little goblins flood my comment section and my moderator has to, like, doo doo doo doo doo. And sometimes they go into my Goodreads.

It's like a mess. But basically, there was this sort of narrative on right-wing Twitter that was like she deserves this, because this is the crowd that she catered to. And this is what they always do.

And they always eat their own. Personally, you're free to disagree, but I don't feel like I should have to anticipate that or to tailor my statement around how Sargon is going to frame it. Right.

No, sir. And I think because I addressed this in my video too, is like there's a big problem where people in left-leaning and progressive spaces do not admit that yes, these systems absolutely are abused all the time. I don't think, for what it's worth, your responsibility to control or even really invest in how your narrative is going to be used.

However, when you see it being used in a certain way, what do you feel about that? Nothing. I turn off.

I can't. I think another thing people don't realize about like influencers or public figures of any stripe is like you have, I believe spoons is the metaphor right now, and I have none left. I basically have had to just completely detach from most things.

I just don't engage. I just go well, that happened, moving on. Has it changed the kind of content you want to produce?

Has it affected the content I produce? Yeah, absolutely, because whenever something like this happens, it just completely destroys the trust you have with your audience. Sure And how can you make content for people that you're kind of afraid of?

Right Like you have to tailor things in a certain way and make sure that whatever you say isn't going to be taken out of context or interpreted the least charitable possible way. It just makes it impossible to do anything, because you're not thinking in terms of making a point, you're thinking in terms of covering your own ass. And that's not a way to be creative.

It just makes it impossible. Well it made me feel at the time so upset because the exposure that we've had, the extent to which we've worked together has been fairly limited, but I think about hundreds of thousands of people who have watched the videos that you created with us about how we view money in pop culture, and I think about all those people who now consume the media that they consume in a way that's more thoughtful from a financial perspective, who have a keener understanding of these things. And to think that all of that, and that's just the limited stuff that you've done with our channel, that all of that sort of means nothing when we get to this kind of a backlash, that there's no accounting for all of this work.

And that often we can drive people away. Do you feel resentful about it? Yeah, absolutely.

I think there's a glee in this idea of unmasking people, which is why I titled the video the way I did, where it's just-- because again, this is one of Sargon's favorite narratives, is that whatever you put out into the world, you don't actually believe it. You're saying the most politically expedient thing that'll make you popular. And if your media criticism is in such and such a way, you're not actually saying something you believe, you're just spouting whatever the woke talking points of the day are.

I think that's sort of the mindset that people come into whenever they're like that is why nothing you have ever said was ever honest. And your real self is the self we've made up where comparing the Disney thing to the Nickelodeon thing is indicative of me saying all Asians are the same. And that's the real you.

And so none of this other stuff is real or honest. You just said that and did that for money is the narrative. I feel like in the most uncharitable and disingenuous cancellation stories, there are obviously a fair amount of right wing grifters whose entire origin story was like I was a liberal and then I was canceled.

And now I believe in trickle down economics, which I think is like, there's no way that's sincere. Have your ideologies, political alignments, values changed? No, not at all.

But I think there are some very I don't want to say weak-minded, but easily gaslit people who absolutely that's happened to. Like I've met some of these people where basically they'll get chased out of a lefty space for saying something tone deaf. And then someone on the right is nice to them.

And they will completely disagree with them politically, but that doesn't matter. What matters is they were nice to them and then they agreed that yes, you were treated unfairly by these woke liberals, blah, blah, blah. And over a period of time, they do change their political alignments, because right wingers were who was nice to them.

So I think it really depends on are you susceptible to that sort of thing, because I do think it happens, sadly. I think it happens too. Interestingly, you probably don't know this, but when I was about three months into my writing career, I wrote an article that went mega-viral for very bad reasons.

And I was proto-canceled at the time, like we didn't call it that, but I basically wrote about how the slut walk was an embarrassment because women who dress slutty don't deserve to be assaulted. But what do you expect? Like it was horrible.

And at the time I think I was 22, I had like a lot of really confused quasi-libertarian beliefs. And that was also like at a time when like feminism was not popular. It was a right before Gamergate.

I was coming out of a very specific context. But being sort of quote unquote canceled at that time and having that be such even to this day a high part of my Google results. In some ways at the time, I do look back and think like well maybe to an extent that inoculates me because if anyone goes digging, it's on page one, girl.

But then I thought well it probably doesn't because there are other things. But I do remember my first like for the first month especially, my thought was that I want to go even further into these really reactionary beliefs because at least I won't be treated a certain way if I align myself with those people. And I think most people-- like it's really hard to prioritize abstract theoretical beliefs about how we can build a more robust welfare system and get money out of politics versus the way people treat you on the day to day.

I think most people just want people to be nice to them. And I think I'm not going to say that my political beliefs have changed, but I definitely, even well before this, would tailor what I said on social media and omit things that I thought might be controversial or might lead to a bad interpretation or something. So Yeah, I would absolutely like self-censor just because I'm like my opinion doesn't really matter on this thing.

And I'm not going to affect anything. And it's just going to bring misery to me personally. Therefore, I'm just not going to say anything.

I have to be honest that your situation was the first one that after years happened, I did go through and I googled myself and a lot of keywords, because yours was the first one that really gave me that feeling, because I always sort of naively felt I think before that my content speaks for itself, people know who I am, they know my values, they know the work that I do. They know the life that I live. And that will be good enough.

And I think that the extent to which your experience was so obviously in bad faith and so easily sort of self-propagating-- I had candid conversations with some of my coworkers, like if this happens from a financial perspective, and I do want to get to the finances, there has to be a contingency plan. Because I do think no matter how far out of my way I go to make sure that I'm representing myself and my company in a way that I think would withstand something like that. If there's a motivated enough contingent and enough quote unquote evidence, no matter how spurious, it can happen to you I think.

No, absolutely. And I think that that's a big problem that people always have with stuff like this is they're again with a lot of the good faith valid criticism I was getting even after the video went up, where they would try to explain like here's why that tweet was problematic actually even if you take into consideration the context of the media in question. And just basically all sort of reverse engineering to kind of be like well, you kind of deserved it you know, because you did do something wrong.

And the reverse engineering I think is like just this impulse people have to sort of reassure themselves that they have control of their own narrative, of their own the way they're perceived by other people, the way people will treat them. And it's just a lie. It's a delusion.

You don't have control over this sort of thing. If it hadn't been that, it could have been something else, it could have been another thing that was dug up, my bad Prince of Egypt opinions. Listen, what are they, because I'll call them out right here, now let's go.

Yeah, it really can just be anyone for any reason. Well and I think our cultural discourse is around things problematic have made it so that a, it's no longer sort of an instinct if you have an instinct to say like this person sucks, I don't like what they do, that's not acceptable because that's bullying, that's mean. So to wrap it in the language of their problematic or to put some sort of emotional, psychological spin on it I think gives validity and also puts you in the position of like now you're doing something morally right.

I think people have just lost the ability to dislike people or media without it framing it in a way that is like-- and I also I'm doing the world justice, I'm doing a good thing here. They need like oh, so and so abused their girlfriend or threw a rock through a window and that's why you can't like their music. You know it's just like we have just like lost the ability to just be like not for me.

Meanwhile, and I feel like this is what's most frustrating about it, there are so many people who like have actual serious, serious criminal past or done things that are really duplicitous who continue to skate by on all kinds of images. It just all so inconsistently applied in terms of the person who receives it. And I think it's probably not a coincidence that yours exploded at a time where your success was very visible.

And I had a lot of people that did remember something I said, something to the tune of like no apology was ever demanded in good faith. But I still think that's true. You cannot demand an apology from someone.

You can hope for one. You can ask for one. But if you're demanding something, you're not asking for a sincere reconciliation, you're asking for performance, you're asking for them to bend the knee.

Rather, you are demanding it, because you cannot demand an apology from someone. Right an apology should be given organically. I will apologize for things that I think I did wrong.

But this specific thing I'm like at most, it could be explained. It deserves context. But an apology is an admission of wrongdoing and a commitment to do better.

What has the impact been financially? Well, at first my Patreon was pretty par, I definitely lost some patrons. But like when I deleted my Twitter account, I gained a few, like I think I lost like 50, but I gained like 200.

So what's the scale we're talking about, like how many do you have overall. I think I have about 9,000 right now. So it was like a percent.

Did you see blowback from things like sponsors or your pre-roll revenue? I mean if I did, I didn't notice it. Definitely not from Youtube AdSense.

This was not the sort of thing that would make sponsors nervous. And it's not the sort of thing that is necessarily going to make me look unsympathetic. It absolutely is the sort of thing that makes the left and progressives look unreasonable, because most people, if you read the tweet, they don't understand the problem.

Like my mom still doesn't understand the problem. I think any normal person does not understand the problem, but also even if someone were to say like they can maybe phrase that a different way, they would never understand the response. But to people, and I'm sure that this is something you've probably heard, and it's not how I feel, but I think it's worth asking.

Like to someone who would say to you well, your Patreons increased, your sponsors didn't back out, you still get just as many, if not more views on your videos. You're fine. And I definitely saw that a lot.

Because there was this interesting sort of turn on Twitter where sympathy wasn't with me at first whenever the video went up, but as more people watched it, it became less and less trendy shall we say to talk shit about me. You'd get a lot more pushback. You'd have a lot more people like talking like say like did you watch the video.

And so whenever the argument that I am like a secret bad person no longer held water, it turned into but she has money. That makes it OK. Do you feel like there's space for you to say-- because, obviously it seems clear that this is something that's really emotionally difficult for you, that even months later, you still to grapple with.

Do you feel that there is space or grace even to just say in whatever form like this is very hard emotionally, and I even as an adult don't feel that I even have the tools to really navigate it emotionally and mentally. Do you feel that that's something you can say? Yeah.

Well not be heard, because joking about the DJ Khaled album cover suffering from success, that he's wearing these chains you know. I love DJ Khaled. Just like me having to pay my taxes, suffering from success.

But that's just not a thing people are going to be sympathetic to. You think? In my experience, absolutely not.

If they're going to be sympathetic to you, they're going to be sympathetic to you whether you're rich or not. And to me the rich thing is like also really annoying, because sort of like you, I don't have a self, I have a company. And I have seven people on payroll, plus I pay for nine people's health insurance.

You know, all of my patron goes right back into payroll. The only money I keep for myself is book money, really. The only savings I have is money I make off of books.

But you know, if they are making this argument that you're rich therefore, you're a perfectly valid punching bag, they don't care about the logistics of what my monthly finances are like or where the money actually goes or how much I'm allowed to keep for myself. They don't care. It's just an excuse.

So you have a book coming out still. When? Well, I have two versions of my first book coming out.

The hardcover of the first book is coming out in the UK in July. And just to make it really confusing, the paperback of the first book is coming out in America in August. And then my second book is coming out in October, October 16.

And hopefully people will read it. Are you still planning to go on book tour and promote the book? No, but that doesn't have anything to do with this.

That is MacMillan is still not doing live events, bookstores are not doing live events. I don't know why. Yeah, it's really frustrating.

Yeah, events have been all over the place. But do you feel a different relationship toward promoting the book in any form after all of this? I think the thing is I used to have to feign humility.

And now I don't care. So I guess that's liberating. When I say feign humility, I mean I guess there's still some truth to the fact that self-promo makes me so uncomfortable.

Yeah But like with the first book, I would just neg the book to the point where it was honestly getting on people's nerves. So I was like, all right, we're not going to do that this time. I'm going to try to like at least be positive about it in my way, in a way that's not dishonest.

But I'm not going to kind of sweep any praise under the rug like I did with the first one. And I guess it's just made me a lot less self-conscious about the way I promote it, because I used to be carefully constructing the brand in a certain way. And I'm just like well it's dashed on the floor anyway, I may as well do whatever.

Do you feel that the audiences that you have for the books and the other stuff are somewhat separate? It's hard to say. They're not as separate as I would like, honestly.

You know, because it's sort of this double edged sword of having a YouTuber channel means you are exposed a lot more than you would have been otherwise, meaning I can promote it to people, but the sort of flip side of that is like people will buy it because of who I am, not because they are necessarily interested in that type of book. I've heard a lot of people be like ha ha, I read it in your voice. I'm like Oh.

That's not what I wanted. And a lot of people who would not have read it didn't like it. And it's just sort a weird double edged sword where I wish my author's self was unknown to the reader.

But on the other hand, that's the only reason why most people bought it in the first place. That's true. That fame, buddy, a double edged sword.

That is why Twitter is terrible. It's the website for cheap, cheap dunks. And then you're rewarded for it.

And then your desire for validation is pinged. And you get your little dopamine hit and then you forget you said anything and you move about your day. I think Twitter is genuinely useless for actual meaningful conversation.

And I think it is irredeemably so. Do you still use it? I use it for promotion.

I don't know if anybody can tell, because I don't interact and I don't like tweets anymore because I don't actually control my own Twitter account anymore. That's probably for the best. Yeah my agency does.

If there's a tweet I probably wrote, if it sounds like I wrote it, I did. But I don't have access to it. I don't look at my mentions Yeah If I'm on Twitter, I have a secret Twitter that I'm on maybe for five minutes a day, because it's amazing how if you're not able to interact, the desire to be there at all just goes away.

Yeah. So I mean it definitely seems like it's for the best to not be face to face with your own mentions. Like that seems-- Yeah.

I guess I wasn't. But even then, I had my default mentions to mutuals only. You know, but it's still kind of triggered that addictive nature of Twitter, which like once I you know got off it, you know I was just like, this must be what like hard users who are in rehab feel.

You know, where your brain doesn't know what to do with itself, right, because you're so used to Twitter engagement. And you have to check on everything. And just being absent of that for the first few weeks, my brain did not know what to do with itself.

So I think when I say like Twitter is an addiction, I mean it, like in a literal, literal way. And I think most people, like other people who have close friends, whenever they would talk about giving it up and then talk themselves out of it, I'm like you're talking like an addict. Do you not realize this?

People are addicted to these platforms in a very literal way. Yeah, exactly. And I think a lot of people are kind of hesitant to admit that, especially people with big platforms.

Like this where I get my validation. Do you still do you feel do you feel the same way about YouTube? I just think to me, YouTube is where the content lives as opposed to Twitter, which is a promotional platform, at least at this point.

I think Twitter used to be a platform for me to produce content, but now it's just purely promotional. I guess I don't really think of YouTube as a social media platform, even though I know it totally is. I just think of it as this is the place where my content lives.

But I also don't really interact with people there very much either. Did the video that you produced about this experience give you any sense of closure? Yeah, because I could be honest.

You know, because I think again, I don't even know if it would have been the smart thing to just apologize and move on, because I'm not great at being dishonest. It's just like, how do you get up on metaphorical stage and say what happened to me was unfair and unjust and completely unjustified. Like how do I make this argument?

So that's why I framed it the way I did. I had to kind of couch it in this like OK, here's everything I have done wrong right over the last 13 years. And here is why diving into that is just like hideously invasive in a way that used to be the domain of like your chans and your kiwi farms, but now it's Twitter leftist babies that do it.

Well I'm sure 4chan is probably still doing it. Oh they're doing it. Yeah, and they're doing it on Reddit too.

Yeah they're the ones who collate the evidence and then they seed it to Twitter and then like they just like go off. It does make me worry that we're going to have a real inability to hold on to good people in content creation in the discourse quote unquote, because the incentives for doing it, they can be real. I mean there can be financial incentives, there can be validation, but the risks of doing it seem so high that I don't know how-- because I want to convince more people who make content like you do or John and Hank and all the people at Complexly do.

I want more people like that. But if this is a possible outcome, even after years of a body of great work, how do you convince people to do it? I don't know.

I think it also depends on your disposition, because I was just on a BBC podcast, where it was me and some TikTok organic farmers, and their takeaway was much more charitable than mine. Because I'm just like fuck them kids. I just have no sympathy for any of them.

I genuinely am like yeah, you extended zero grace to me, I have none for you. But they were like no, but they meant well. Sure, they called us like a cult, but they were trying to protect the whatever.

And I think it depends on your disposition, because I think I am a naturally just pessimistic person. And so this happened to me is just like shutting down, done. And I have zero emotional space to kind of contextualize or forgive honestly.

But other people might be willing to put up with it. I guess maybe not put up, but just accept it and frame it in a way that OK, maybe Twitter is rewarding people's absolute worst impulses, but they mean well. And it really just depends on your disposition, because I know a lot of people, women especially, are just naturally sensitive people.

They want to be liked. They don't like the idea that they might be taken out of context or they might hurt someone by being honest. And so how do we accept this risk?

How do I meter myself and phrase my words in a way that there is no risk for that? And it's just impossible. Well, and I also think that it's a question of human psychology, because if you were to look at the aggregate of what your work has produced, both in terms of benefit and in terms of the response, I'm sure its 100 to 1 of people who've liked your videos, have commented positively, have gotten something out of them, use them in classrooms.

So I think if you were to look at the numbers, it's probably, maybe not one but probably close to it. Oh, absolutely. But it is I think very difficult psychologically to in any way make that calculus.

Right And also again, it's like your personality. Positive reinforcement just washes over me. I internalize none of it.

And again, most of the feedback, I get at least to my face, I don't know about the greater discourse, but comments, mentions, Instagram, whatever, like they're positive, but like I don't internalize those. I dwell on the negative. And I think a lot of people know this, they assume this, because they do the same thing.

And so they kind of go out of their way to do these pissy little things that they know I'm going to see. And that knowledge, it's like it just gets in your craw. And it just lives in you in a way, because you start to see the positivity as like well, that's the default, that's how it should be.

And these things are aberrations and that's why we need to fixate on them and address them and all that nonsense. This is a personal question that you're definitely not obligated to answer, but have you seen a therapist about this? No honestly.

Like I had a therapist. I think this is its own issue that at a point in history, I might have given a shit about, but I had like two therapists going into the pandemic. And then I just couldn't do Zoom calls anymore.

I just hated it. But the problem with both of them is they just can't even begin to understand what this does to a person. And even living in LA, I have not found a therapist that-- That's shocking.

Like how do you find someone who understands like social media, especially like with a large platform? There is no research on this. And there's certainly nothing that therapists can take and apply.

They just like, every single therapist I've talked to is just like why don't you just log off. It's shocking that there's not like the influencer therapist in Los Angeles. I mean maybe there and there I haven't it found them yet.

So to kind of wrap up and look forwards, so you mentioned that you have a different relationship with content creation going forward. You mentioned that it's definitely made you kind of cynical about the work that you're producing. You mentioned that you also have a fair amount of employees that depend on you financially.

How much does the financial viability of your team and your company in the work that you do weigh on you and how you're thinking about all this and how you move forward? Oh a lot. If you want me to be honest, I would have quit.

I would have been like, fuck y'all, bye, after that stock went up if I didn't have employees. Have you had conversations with them about this? Yeah.

I mean we have a loose plan. They know what it is. But yeah, I can't say that being a business owner and having people depend on me didn't absolutely influence my decision to keep going about it, even in the milquetoast way that I do.

As a kind of final thought for me in any case, what's so striking to me about this is that I think, and I'm sure you'd probably agree, that if you wanted to keep going and keep just making great film videos and keep making a nice profit for your company or what have you, like I thank you very much could. Like I think that this would not prevent you from doing that. Yeah, it hasn't affected my numbers at all.

So I think it just speaks really strongly to the human and psychological toll that would not be appealing. Yeah, exactly. And I mean supporters get it.

Because I've seen a lot of people like concerned about me personally, and I'm just sort of, there's a part of me that's like, Oh, don't worry and then I'm like no, you absolutely should be worried. I mean, God I can't even imagine, because I had a very robust support system during the whole thing. Like a lot of people looked over that video, and a lot of them were just the usual suspects, exactly who you would think.

You mean your friends? Yeah my friends, who are also YouTubers, some of whom have basically created the rubric for how to respond to being overblown or completely unjust cancellations. And so I can't imagine what it would have been like for me if I didn't have that.

Well, I hope that at least people who see this conversation and videos like the one you made can at least, maybe on a small scale, start to think more conscientiously about how they interact with people and content on the internet. Yeah. I mean I guess I have seen that at least.

Like when the video went up and the people who did watch it all the way through, like I did see a lot of comments that were I had been being really uncritically participating in dog piles. So that's going to make me reevaluate that. So, Yeah.

I mean, listen. Silver lining. Well thank you for coming on in for speaking so honestly about your experience.

I know that social media is all crazy right now, but what about people who want to buy your book? Yeah, well you can do that at any fine retailers. I think, depending on when this comes out, some independent bookstores will have signed copies.

Otherwise, you can order signed copies online through our portal on Macmillan's website. It's called truth of the divine. It's out October 16.

So as always, guys, thank you for watching. And don't forget to Subscribe and come back every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday for new and awesome videos. Goodbye.