Roughly a year ago, I took my first book Confessions of an Online Hustler off-sale because I believed that in an age of omnipresent Internet censorship, much of the advice it in was no longer worth charging for. (You can now get it for free by signing up for my mailing list.) Back then, I believed that the struggles myself and other dissident right figures were going through would be temporary. That the clouds would part and we could go back to changing the world.
It’s time to face facts: we are in the middle of a second dotcom crash.
What do I mean by this? I mean that Web 2.0, the dominant paradigm of the Internet for the past decade, is dying. Much like how the first dotcom crash wiped out countless startups—and allowed others such as Amazon and eBay to achieve dominance—the second dotcom crash is destroying the livelihoods of everyone who creates online content for a living. Left, right, center, apolitical: independent writers, YouTube hosts, and other creators are being squeezed out to make the Internet safe for corporations and controlled opposition.
I’m one of those creators who’ve been wiped out. Most of you know that I was banned from Twitter in November 2016, losing access to over 10,000 followers who read, promoted, and supported my work. Earlier that year, I was also banned from Amazon Associates, a hit to my income. Two months later, after President Trump was inaugurated, I noticed a sudden and inexplicable drop in my site’s search traffic. Because much of my blog income (book sales and affiliate marketing) came via random Internet searches, my cash flow plummeted to the point where I was forced to find a job in order to support myself.
I believe that after the inauguration, Google targeted my site with some kind of anti-fake news algorithm, choking me off from potential new readers…and also choking off my ability to make a living. Since then, my search traffic has continued to dwindle, to the point where my audience is roughly the same size it was when I first started this blog back in 2012-2013. I’m making sufficiently little money that I’d be broke and homeless even in Eastern Europe if I didn’t have a day job.
I know that I’m not the only person who has dealt with this. YouTube’s constant gaslighting of its users is a major case in point. If you create videos or host live streams, it’s a crapshoot as to whether your subscribers will even see your content. The arbitrary “community guidelines” system has lead to hosts as diverse as my friend the Bechtloff and German communist Three Arrows having their videos removed due to false flagging. The “adpocalypse” last year led to countless channels being demonetized despite their popularity, and Google has increasingly tightened monetization requirements to shut out neophyte creators. And let’s not forget how videos are being “sandboxed” to keep other people from seeing them.
Every other Big Tech company is doing the same thing. For example, a close friend of mine who runs a website that reaches millions of people told me that Facebook has targeted him with their algorithms in such a manner that it’s impossible for articles on his site to go viral. Twitter’s penchant for banning and shadowbanning non-leftists is well-known at this point, and registrars like GoDaddy have seized the domains of websites like the Daily Stormer and AltRight.com. I’ve also seen evidence that Amazon is trying to shadowban certain authors who sell their books via the site.
Libertarian retard logic claims that corporations will always try to maximize profit, yet Silicon Valley is deliberately leaving money on the table in order to shut down the most popular people on their platforms, even though most of these sites are already losing money. Moreover, President Trump has shown absolutely no interest in defending freedom of speech online, even though it’s his supporters that are being disproportionately targeted. Ted Cruz—the guy we all mocked as a feckless cuck during the Republican presidential primaries—has done more for us on this front than the “God-Emperor” has.
While we like to imagine ourselves as freedom fighters who will NOT! STAND! for our voices being silenced, the reality is that humans prefer to take the easy way out, and we’ve already quietly adapted to the new reality. For example, Beardson Beardly deletes episodes of his show The Weekly Sweat after they air so he doesn’t get a strike on his account (which would keep him from live streaming). Dissident right-wingers have developed increasingly elaborate ways to sneak back onto Twitter after being banned. Alt-tech platforms intended to replace these sites have all crashed and burned. Gab has become a repository for neo-Nazis and feds and will likely be shut down by the FBI in the near future, while YouTube competitor Vidme shut down last year due to mounting losses.
Not only that, there’s little reason to believe that we’d be able to return to the pre-Trump glory days even if all the censorship and gaslighting were ended today. Audience tastes have changed to such a rapid degree in the past few years that solid methods for making money and getting your message out will become obsolete within months. Attention spans have become increasingly short due to constant sensory overload, resulting in a shift from blogging and writing towards video and audio production, as well as Tweeting.
For example, live streams have supplanted videos as the primary means of creating content on YouTube due to a combination of incentives and disincentives. Audiences prefer live content to prerecorded videos due to the dynamism and interactivity factors, and YouTube’s Super Chat system (which allows viewers to donate to stream hosts in exchange for having one of their comments pinned to the stream chat for a period of time) makes live streams more lucrative as well. It’s because of this that I’ve shifted from doing podcasts and videos to hosting live streams.
Finally, a lot of online success comes down to luck. In nearly a decade of writing online, I’ve increasingly noticed that the biggest winners are those who latch onto a trend first. For example, video hosts like James Rolfe, Spoony, and Doug Walker became popular in the late 2000’s because they were among the first people creating content for YouTube, then a new site. “Digital nomads” who got their start when WordPress and blogging took off in the late 2000’s also made bank. When the Kindle first debuted, its users were so desperate for something to read that anyone could make decent coin publishing for the platform, even if their books were utter shit.
Johnny-come-latelys in any field will always be struggling against market saturation, even if they have talent. Untalented ones will fall flat on their faces. For example, look at the case of Christian McQueen, a fraud who lives off credit cards and scams people as part of his “playboy” lifestyle, or Dylan Madden, a fat, broke loser who lives with his grandma but pretends to be a baller online. I wager the majority of “location independent entrepreneurs” writing today are living off credit cards, trust funds, or savings from their old jobs.
The simple reality is that the Internet is rapidly closing its doors to the common man. Censorship, changing audience tastes, and market saturation are creating a situation in which the only people who can survive are those with connections. Think YouTube trying to muscle out independent hosts so they can cater to CNN and other mainstream media outlets, or alt-lite personalities like Stefan Molyneux sipping from the poisoned chalice of corporate sponsorships.
There is some hope. Some writers and YouTube hosts have managed to become successful under the new rules. But the catch is that they’re doing things that are new and novel. Dissident right subcultures like the ironybros and Frog Twitter are more successful accidentally than the vast majority of “digital nomads” are on purpose. Bronze Age Pervert’s book Bronze Age Mindset is currently one of the best-selling titles on Amazon, while Beardson Beardly was able to raise $150 in less than an hour so he could buy a capture card to stream video games. In contrast, dorks like Dylan Madden constantly beg people to click their Uber affiliate links and make pennies at best.
This is in part why I’ve shifted my focus to my new project, Terror House Magazine. While I’m never going to quit writing or take down this site, opining on politics or the topics I typically focus on are not only less interesting to me, they have diminishing returns. With Terror House, I’m building something I’ve wanted to do for years, something that serves an important need (if our rapidly growing traffic is any indication) and is unique. I’m going to be 30 years old at the end of this month and it’s time for me to put aside childish things.
I plan on surviving the second dotcom crash by building my wealth outside of the Internet through a day job and creating an online business that will survive the ups and downs of censorship and audience mood shifts. Many people won’t be able to do this and will end up being forced out like Pets.com was. The golden days are over: it’s time to adapt.
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