When I first moved to Montreal in 2016, I brought nothing with me but a suitcase full of clothing, a cell phone, and a laptop. I had trouble finding a job at first considering I was criminally anglophone at the time, so a lot of my time was spent living on what little savings I had, and watching YouTube videos.
At this point, YouTube had already asserted itself as a forum for political conversation. Channels like The Young Turks, Secular Talk, and Louder with Crowder were already well-established players in the platform’s ecosystem, and new content creators were gaining heads of steam left and right. The number of popular right-wing YouTubers jumped exponentially when Donald Trump announced his candidacy for President of the United States in summer of 2015.
I was a single guy, fresh out of high school, renting out a laundry room with a futon in it for $200 a month in a new city. With no job and zero social life, I started to dip my feet into the political side of YouTube, using the website for more than just watching fail compilations or dogs wearing sunglasses on skateboards.
The millennials that preceded me created a culture that was for all intents and purposes, politically correct. There was a lot for me to learn, as there still is today. So when YouTube started changing their algorithm based on my new exploration of right-wing ideas, I was instantly hooked.
The variety was unmatched. Comedians and provocateurs like Gavin McInnes or Steven Crowder, pundits like Milo Yiannopolous or Ben Shapiro, even academics like Gad Saad or Jordan B. Peterson, all had so much to offer. Each person a character with new insights, and answers to questions I didn’t even know I had. I watched every video you could think of. Debates, “DESTROYED WITH FACTS AND LOGIC” compilations, interviews, the whole shebang. And for a while, I became apart of what I’d consider the conservative “tribe” mentality.
You may have seen more and more articles pop up discussing how people were “radicalized” by YouTube. How they went down a “far-right” rabbit hole and were on the brink of becoming radicalized. This was me. Except I don’t see any problem with that, whatsoever.
I wouldn’t say I was “radicalized,” but my political views had certainly shifted farther right than they had ever been before. In my mind, I had just been enlightened. I was hearing answers to important questions, and felt very well informed.
When someone shifts from the left to the right, you understand the left’s arguments well, and you feel equipped to debunk any of the liberal nonsense you may hear your peers spewing.
This peaked for me when Donald Trump won the presidential election in November of 2016. At this point, I was a Trump fanboy, who thought of liberalism as a mental disorder. I even went down to the “Love Trumps Hate” gathering at McGill University and held a sign with an Obama quote about supporting then President-Elect Donald Trump, and had a few debates with those attending. (An Obama quote which I could not find in several Google searches, but found in only one Yahoo search, might I add.) To quote Walter White, I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it. And I was really alive.
“Tribalism” has been deemed a dirty word. It’s made to seem malicious. But it is still a perfectly healthy part of a young mind’s development. Past cultural movements throughout the decades had always granted a sense of asylum to those that felt like outcasts, and this was the case with my new found conservatism.
The most critical part about tribalism though, is outgrowing it. Eventually, it got real old calling everyone I disagreed with a snowflake SJW libtard feminazi cuck. Eventually, those same talking points you’d hear over and over became extremely annoying to me.
For a moment, I thought I was losing my edge, but what I realized had actually happened was that I had matured, and become more of an individual, rather than someone whose behaviour was dictated by the tribe. Finding your own voice amongst the herd, you walk out with the knowledge you can truly stand behind, and shed behind the beliefs you may have championed solely because they resonated with your pack.
I went from a politically naive lefty who had just aided in the election of Justin Trudeau by giving him my vote, to a right-wing troll, and eventually, after a bit more contemplation, I ended up somewhere in the middle. More informed, more caring, less edgy, and less ignorant.
I consider myself centre-right now. I believe YouTube helped me discover right wing ideas that are core to my values today. I’m sure that YouTube helped liberals discover left wing ideas that are core to their values too. So what?