We’ve hit the 1 year mark since I’ve started this blog! Sadly, I don’t have cupcakes to give you all.
I want to discuss about why I appreciate the community we have. To start off, let me give you some context:
Blogging and vlogging are not new to me. I spent years writing blogs and wasting endless hours on Youtube, but after a while, I felt that it was all getting a bit too unfocused. The rise of social media certainly added a sketchy element to things, as well. Consequently, I decided to remove myself from those communities and I currently maintain a very minimal social media footprint. I find most of it rather shallow anyway.
Having spent years trying to reach an audience, I’ve come to the conclusions that:
- A blog/Youtube channel does best when it has a focused and interesting topic (controversial or not) to cover.
- Blogs are more easily catered to the scholarly/academically-minded person.
- My personality (dull and serious as it is) is better suited for blogging and scholarship than Youtube.
As for the first point, there are blogs and vlogs out there covering every conceivable topic from the arts to the sciences and everything in-between. We find that the best ones have a specific focus and are able to capture an audience. The difficulty is that the market is saturated. Not everybody becomes the next big blogger or Youtube star. If you’re banking on that to happen, then it’ll require a tremendous amount of hard work and time. Me personally, I don’t want to be financially dependent on the internet for money. I’ve always viewed these things as hobbies.
With regard to the second point, while there is something to be said for the speed at which information travels in the current Information Age we live in, as I mentioned in my previous post on Digital Journalism and Media Literacy, I feel that we’ve sacrificed a lot of rigor for the sake of convenience. Some Youtube channels do get tons of views partially because of the audience they can reach, but also because of the content they offer. Often this is done by seizing on controversial or hot-button topics. However, when you look at the content on Youtube, most of the videos are not very intellectual. Those which are…you really need to dig for. To be sure, there are some excellent educational channels on Youtube, but those are the exception. Furthermore, the format of Youtube is designed for entertainment, not scholarship. No, I’m not going to create a Youtube counterpart to this blog. I grew tired of the “entertainment over scholarship” aspect of Youtube and felt that I had to “make it entertaining or controversial” for people to pay attention to it. The problem was that it violated my sense of intellectual integrity, if you will. I became tired of dealing with comments on Youtube that had little grounding in research. People would simply make comments, but it didn’t seem like there was any requirement for them to back up their claims with evidence. History is a narrative based on factual evidence! If you can’t back it up, then you’ve lost credibility! It seemed like every other Youtube comment was from a flat-earther, chemtrail believer, or some kind of ridiculous conspiracy theorist. Naturally, they’d troll around and look to make some inflammatory remark just to get a rise out of people. Oh, boy! They’d come running like flies to shit. I got fed up with that. To me, it represents an intellectual low when we’re solely reacting to something based on an appeal to emotion rather than solid evidence. Stirring up controversy is a cheap and pathetic way to get attention. In my humble opinion, scholarship can be entertaining, but entertainment in and of itself is not necessarily scholarship. I refuse to sacrifice scholarship for entertainment. Those are the main reasons that I decided to quit Youtube.
The benefits of blogging over vlogging are that I can maintain scholastic rigor and more easily edit material. This is to say that I can easily insert citations, edit material, and correct any previous mistakes I’ve made at any time without having to create an entirely new post. That can’t be done in video format. Every blog post where I’ve done research has citations that you can look up if you wish to examine the content more in-depth. Although unlike a genuine historian, I use APA-style citations instead of Chicago Manual. But that’s just personal preference. At least I put citations in my writing!
My final point is that I’m a better writer than an entertainer. To me, vlogs are all about entertainment. Why do people spend tons of time on Youtube watching unboxing or gaming videos? Much like watching TV or movies, it’s to be entertained. It’s a very passive activity and it doesn’t push a person’s intellect, in my opinion. In contrast, blogs stimulate the intellect more, in large part because they involve reading. Given that you’re all following my blog, I think it’s safe to say that you want to read and/or enjoy reading to some extent. You’re probably also interested in the topics I cover, as well.
This blog actually came about as an assignment for one of the classes in my Master’s degree program. I decided to continue writing it and focus on maritime and naval history topics. I’m a social studies teacher, so that kind of goes hand-in-hand with it. This blog is just one small way for me to make a contribution to the historical community. I would love to get published in an academic journal (or maybe even write a book) some day.
While reading doesn’t appeal to a lot of people, there is a lot of research out there that correlates reading with a person’s academic performance and intellect. If only for the ability to mentally keep a lengthy narrative in your head. So, when I say reading, I’m talking about reading books and articles with actual narratives…NOT tweets or texts on your phone. Indeed, if I were to sample my students, then I’d find that the ones who struggle the most are screen-addicted and waste all their time on their phones. In contrast, those who spend their free time reading (fiction or non-fiction…doesn’t matter) are usually the most successful ones. It makes sense because a lot of reading is involved in the study of history. To put it another way, a fellow educator of mine once told their students, “sitting around playing video games and using social media is not going to impress anyone who you would want to take you seriously.” Indeed, I’ve never heard of a college admissions board or any employer that admitted or hired someone based on their video game or social media usage. My point is, go and do something with yourself. Sitting around passively and mindlessly consuming entertainment only contributes to you getting fat and lazy.
Anyway, before I put everyone to sleep, I just want to say thank you for following me on this journey. I appreciate that we can engage in historical scholarship and avoid the silly Youtube comments. I appreciate that you have an intellectual curiosity about the topics on this blog and I encourage you to always strive to further your knowledge. More historical adventures to follow!