Monday, 29 June 2009

Validating one's Opinion

I have had a very good weekend; two Nunes - Holden gigs in as many days, a Nerdfighter gathering in London, a scavenger hunt which my team won (Maureen Johnson still owes us all a prize. I refuse to buy anything she has written until I see some kind of proof that I... I mean we, pwned all) topped off with about 6 hours sleep over three days equates to the kind of YouTube weekend I haven't had in a very long time. Good times.

I uploaded a video, classic rhymingwithoranges' style, talking about whether drug use should be considered an illness rather than a crime following the comments of a UN official on the subject.

In the video I hinted towards my view that drug use should be legalised. I was not wrong to say this but I should have explained my opinion more clearly and so have had a large amount of comments saying the same thing. Something I always try and avoid. I also used a statistic and didn't explain very well what I was using it for, so all in all not the best video I have ever made on my channel but not so terrible that I have had to private it. I've had to do that before when I have got figures wrong and not researched the topic enough, but all this is a learning process.

In my debate videos is is quite rare for a large number of my viewers disagree with me. My audience tends to be quite liberal thinking and so will quite often agree with what I say in the video.

I was therefore taken aback when, for the first time in ages, so many, maybe even over half, of the people commenting on my video said things along the lines of, "Jazza, I usually agree with you, but not this time..." etc. etc.

I did a have a short panic. "Oh my God! People who watch me don't agree with every word I say! Whatever shall I do!?" I eventually calmed down and got over myself.

This is why I started doing these videos on RWO; for the debate and so that people from all over the world and all sorts of backgrounds could come together, disagree, explain why, and subsequently agree to disagree. So it's been good for me to get out of this rut of everyone agreeing with me and remind me what the real world is like.

I can't remember where I heard this, but I remember someone important once saying that our opinions are bullshit until we can back them up and still believe in them after debating with someone of the opposite view point. I think that is important to remember. Anyone can say they believe in something, say that something is true with unwavering confidence; but it is through debate, dialogue and conversation that our opinions gain validity.

Keep Safe
- Jazza

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Qué Sera Sera

For the first half of this week I have been in Bristol. Although I was born and brought up in Essex, a large proportion of my family live here as this is where my maternal family reside. I always fall more and more in love with this city the longer I spend here and am seriously considering moving here in the future. The down side, if I spend any period of time over a day here I always pick up the west country twang; my accent is currently somewhere between farmer and sheep shagger status.

At the moment I am, amongst other things, eating copious amounts of pasta salad, leeching off Prêt a Manger’s internet connection and being genuinely moved by the courage and persistence of the Iranian people.

Whether those elections were rigged or not (I personally have my doubts as to whether they were, but that is another story) you have to admire the movement and excitement they are creating.

Last week I entered a competition to appear as the ‘people’s panellist’ on the BBC show, ‘Question Time’. I want this, a lot, and I suppose that is why I am so intensely nervous about it. I was adamant about making my minute long audition video in one take because this is how all the other applicants had approached it, I therefore spent over an hour trying to not stumble over my words or spend too long uming or erring. Scripting it perfectly beforehand took the best part of a few days. I got quite flustered towards the end. It was very frustrating not having my limited editing skills to hide behind.

I eventually got a half decent take done, posted it, and received a wave of lovely comments from people saying that they could think of no one better to take part in the show.

Thank you for that, but…

The truth is I have no idea whether I would be the best person for the job. I, unlike the vast majority of the applicants, do not have a history in debating. I am also not studying politics or a similar subject. Yes, I am keen on my newspapers and current events, but I am nowhere near an expert. These people (the other people who have entered) have decided to spend their further academic career expanding their knowledge on the subject. I read Chinese short stories about lesbians with TB and persist on trying to master the subjective and all of her Spanish forms and applications.

My political vlogs are scripted and I hide behind many takes and the ability to edit and make my arguments look slick. I have no idea how I am going to react to a live situation; thinking on my feet, having my argument directly scrutinised and not having Google to verify my statistics. Making that video was the easy bit; that was my turf, my comfort zone. I believe there is a part of the audition process where the applicants form a panel and debate on various issues amongst themselves. This is where my expertise ends and the majority of the other applicants’ begins.

We will see how I deal with it. I hope more than anything I can do this; I want it a lot and I would like to believe I would do a good job.

(Ready for the horrifically cheesy part of the blog?)

The greatest advice my parents ever gave me comes from a hugely generic song, “Qué sera sera, whatever will be will be.” They wrote that inside my good luck card for when I was due to take the 11 Plus. I failed. But I took from their advice that sometimes things just aren’t meant to be. If I am meant to get on this panel and do well, then it will happen. Nerves are not going to make me any more adapt at occupying the YouTube niche in which I have comfortably resided for some time now.

All I can do now is keep reading papers, keep debating within YouTube or BlogTV, and believe I can do well.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

The most viral I have ever been.

A couple of days ago I posted a video about a political Party called the BNP.

I knew what I was getting into when I did so; the BNP have a lot of ‘trolls’ on the interwebs and are quite keen on spamming. I have come across them in the past with other videos where I have mentioned any viewpoint that is vaguely liberal.

This video seems to have done rather well. It got a huge initial response, especially amongst the twitter folk after a lovely man named Charlie insisted on many people re-tweeting a link to the video. It was a buzz seeing page of people linking to my video.

So many of the comments have been incredibly positive, I thank all the lovely people.

I also thank the haters, I have missed them, and haven’t had a wave this big since my last feature. I feel so old referring to the time when YouTube had a user generated front page, those were the good old days. I’m such an old-timer. I have never taken personal attacks… well… personally, and I quite honestly find them funny. The comments that rant about the violence of Islam and how they are going to shoot everyone in a turban (wrong religion mate) are more worrying but you take them with a pinch of salt; the person typing that probably hasn’t left the chair in front of their computer since the 80s.

It is the people who, for want of a better word, make sense; who meld the first two kind of negative comments into a singular form. They can subtly rip my confidence to shreds and at the same time make a plausible argument for their voting of the BNP. I struggle to deal with these comments. I do my best to respond with my wet, liberal counter-arguments but there are just so many.

Dealing with this third breed is something new for me, I have had them in the past, but not in this volume. It is emotionally draining just reading them. Because of this I have decided to take a break from my comments section; something I despise doing. I have often said that the comments are where the magic happens in rhymingwithoranges – my videos are a bit rubbish, I am just repeating the news, but the discussions that happen because of me recounting what is happening in the world are awesome.

With close to 10 000 hits in just over two days, I believe this is the most viral I have ever been without a YouTube feature (again, feeling old). The initial comments from my more regular viewers caused an emotional high, the more recent BNPers, who have dominated the last twelve or so hours of comments, have brought me crashing back down to earth. I can only expect the second half to grow; ratings will drop and wonderful comments will be thumbed down but I guess I have to hold onto is the fact I am putting my voice out there and being heard. That why I do this, that is why I am here.

In the mean time I am just immersing myself in work and Priscilla Ahn. Her music is wonderful, listen to it – it will always make you feel better.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Having All Three

Yesterday marked a month since I last updated this blog. I can do nothing other than apologise. Exams took hold and anyone who has a blog themselves will understand that the longer you leave between posts the harder it is to start again.

But anyways, I am now tied down to very little in the academic sense and will hopefully be posting more on here. Yay for me!

A couple of days ago I went to an exceedingly interesting lecture in Leeds by the fantastic Johnny Cupcakes with my friend JohnnyDurham. He is an entrepreneur who started by selling printed t-shirts out the boot of his car and now runs a multi-million dollar company, basically still just selling t-shirts - using the internet as his main method of selling.

He is a fascinating man and, although he didn't seem too sure exactly how different the UK was to the US (at one point he asked us if we celebrated Christmas here, lulz <3)

I look away a lot from it. Three things struck me from his three hour lecture though. He is very dedicated to his customers and has a very similar relationship with them that many of the big time YouTubers have with their fans. There is a lot of adoration and respect for him and his brand, and he in turn takes the time to talk or email them, or even organise gatherings for them (sound familiar) like the one he is holding in London today.

Secondly his ruthless and determined work ethic. He told a story of when he was starting up a badge making enterprise with a close friend. Everything was great they got a lot of work done and made a reasonable amount of money. His friend then got a girlfriend, and the business went downhill. Johnny’s friend spent all his time with his girlfriend and less and less time with his business partner. The venture eventually crashed.

Johnny then drilled into us the importance of not being in a relationship when starting up a business; that a new business requires too much time and commitment to be committed to a girl or boy at the same time. He mentioned that if you have your fingers in too many pies, one of those pies is going to get a half arsed effort and end up half baked. His view is that you cannot possibly have an academic career, a business venture, romance and time to go out on a Friday night with your mates.

This reminded me of a video Alan uploaded recently, you can watch it here:

It got me thinking about me and whether Johnny is just being bitter about the fact he can’t get a girlfriend or is there some truth in his philosophy and Alan’s poem?

I think of my life. I am very lucky. I have a great group of friends, within YouTube and out, who have done nothing but support me throughout my life.

I have a great academic career, I’m doing well (touch wood) and am also lucky enough to be good at my job as an English teacher. I also have YouTube and now BlogTV which doesn’t get me a lot of money but is a hobby that I have managed to get some kind of monetary gain out of; I like to think I am good at that too.

Then I look at my relationship track record and to be honest my romantic history is less than shiny. I struggle to commit, talk about my feelings, sex still scares the shit out of me at the age of twenty and many a chance to practice. I haven’t had a ‘proper relationship’ since I was 17.

Is this going to bug me and shroud any kind of success I have in the future with an abundance of “what if?”s?

Johnny Cupcakes didn’t seem very happy to me. Yes he has his fans and a fantastic brand and an awful lot of money. But the way he spoke to us, quite honestly, about how he cradled his laptop at night pining for the right girl to come along made me think about my circumstances.

I would like a proper relationship, maybe a family in the future. But what am I going to have to sacrifice?

Am I going to have to sacrifice anything? Can I have all three? A love life, a social life and success?