posted: 2024-01-03

On Making on the Internet

Noted girl-enjoyer JoCat recently received a disproportionate amount of online Twitter hazing for his video about being being a girl-enjoyer. The video itself is hardly problematic beyond a general reductive soft-core fetishization of singular, often physical, traits present in subsets of female characters in games. It's a little cringe, but otherwise harmless. For all intents and purposes, JoCat created the video as a general celebration of the various types of physical appearances and personalities of female characters in media. And yet, it was this video that this was the video that thousands of anonymous twitter users felt was worth attacking, to the point of doxxing JoCat and their offline connections. It's not like the video was something that was newly published either. The video had originally been published on Youtube in 2021. The idea of the little rap, a play on a Lizzo song of a similar nature, was done impromptu as a bit in 2020. But here we are, nearly through 2023, and the animation reached the mainstream feeds of the nameless, faceless users of Elon Musk's Xitter

And it's a real damn shame, because JoCat's work has consistently entertained me and informed me on topics I otherwise would find moderately unappealing. His "Crap Guide to DnD" series gave me, a person new to any and all tabletop role-playing games, the confidence to choose the starting class and race for my first ever character (a Human Rogue, I wanted to play it safe, okay?) without feeling like I was being too simple in my selection and not selecting something especially complicated for my first outing. I cannot say that I am an avid fan of JoCat, I am not subscribed to him, I do not watch his Twitch streams, I do not follow him on most social media platforms. Yet, JoCat and his creative works he has chosen to publish on the Internet, maintain a relatively positive standing in my general headspace. I don't really care for the "Girl Appreciation" video, but I can't deny that, all things considered, it's pretty well made. It is cringe, but it is free.

I read JoCat's farewell post on their website and exhaled more air than I expected.

As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a Let's Player. To me, being a Let's Player was being better than President of the United States. Even before I got my flipCamera and found myself fiddling around with iMovie on the family's iMac, I know I wanted to be one of them. It was there that I knew I belonged. To me, it meant being somebody on a website full of nobodies. They were playing games and people were watching them, they did what they wanted and everyone else watched. They could play a game nobody had ever heard of, and they'd still have everyone waiting on pins and needles for Episode 42 of the series. When a new game came out, no one ever buy the game before watching them play it first. Chuggaconroy, was the guy every kid wanted to be. He played Nintendo games for thousands of people a day, while making an ass out of himself alongside his buddies NintendoCapriSun who had been in the game longer than most and ProtonJon who more gaming accomplishments than any one of his viewers could ever hope for. These three, the Runaway Guys, were who I wanted to be, a guy in his early adult years hanging out with his friends, playing video games, while being appreciated by hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions, of faceless adoring fans. They were rock stars for of a generation socially-awkward teenagers. I wanted to be like them.

I am now an adult in his early adult years, hanging out with his friends, playing video games, while being appreciated by maybe ten adoring fans. I am currently living a very scaled-down version of my childhood dream, living a dream of being a Let's Player. It's a little different than I expected, I don't have a ginormous fanbase the way I had once imagined. I don't have people always commenting in my livestream chat or on the stream archives the way I had once done for my idols. I am just not as successful as them. I have not attained the widespread I, as a twelve-year old, thought would be so easy to obtain. But I'm alright with that.

What I make on the internet is pretty bottom-of-the-barrel effort-wise. On a given evening I'm streaming, I'll open up OBS, give the stream some ridiculous name, change the label indicating which game I'm playing, not change any tags form the previous stream, and then load up the game, usually an emulator and rom, and enter my discord's streaming channel where I'll proceed to mute and deafen myself until about five minutes after I am live and ready to work my magic. And then I play video games and talk with people. It's not hard, I'd say. I try to come prepared with a few talking points, a few stories and anecdotes related to my present life experiences, some discussion questions for people in the call or in the chat, a few jokes, et cetera. After about three hours of shooting the shit, alone or with peers, I wrap up stream, export the VOD to my archive YouTube channel, and then go to bed. Every three months I'll make thumbnails for the VODs. Every four months or so, I'll try to find some clips to upload to the clip highlight channel. These two methods require minimal creative skills beyond a basic understanding of graphics design and an eye for humor. Not to undersell the time it takes to do these processes, or the skill required of me, but this work is hardly comparable to the people who write their own content, edit it, tear it all down through edits, rebuild it into something more refine, and then put it out as a piece, and all on a regular basis.

But still, I create! I create these time capsules of time and space that document three hours of my life at a time as I experience some new video game (or occasionally watch some new Youtube video). They're not going to go viral, but that's not why I do it. That's not why I stream. I'm not going to be making ten-thousand bucks a week just from stream donations and sponsorships. I think I might even have the ability to run advertisements on my stream in order to get more money than the occasional $70 payout from accumulated twitch subscriptions. I don't do it for the money. I don't do it for the fame. I stream because it calls to me. It's intrinsic joy.

I'll tell my stories about my escapades, my struggles, my vulnerabilities, my achievements, so long as they're interesting to me. If they've been on my mind in even the smallest capacity, I will likely bring up these topics as I let my mind wander about the halls of my mental palace.

But I won't put them out in a public space where anyone and everyone could access them. I am not afraid of people judging me on the style or skill in my creations. I know that to grow as a creative, one has to be vulnerable and be open to critiques. But I cannot envision a space where I share my material that is shared with irony-poisoned rage-baiters (they are welcome to quote this and dunk on me). The internet will always have trolls, this is something I've known since I was signing up for my first forum back in the mid 2000s. It falls to me, therefore, to carefully pick and choose my corners of the internet. I know things I make might diffuse through the miasma of cyberspace, but I will not be there to see where it comes to rest. That's sort of why I'm leaning into neocities more these days as opposed to making videos on YouTube, for example.

"I still want to make things, but perhaps I should just keep them to myself for the time being."