Why I am Leaving Twitch
I will not be streaming on Twitch or participating in events on Twitch in the near future. In all honesty, it is very difficult to find an incentive to do it.
At the heart of the issue is the fact that I genuinely feel I'm an academic at heart and it's where I fundamentally belong. I want to devote my whole life towards the pursuit of truth and knowledge in the sphere of philosophy, and I do not think that I can do this very effectively on Twitch as of now.
When invited onto political panels I feel no desire to participate in discussing political matters. Going into the discussion I already know what essentially everyone is going to say, and it's just a game of waiting for you to stick your foot in the door and give your own predictable take. In this respect it's quite literally no different than network pundit shows, and it's always been why I hate reading political opinion pieces or watchings pundits talk. You already know all the lines, you know how it's going to end, and fundamentally little will change when the root of most of these discussions is ethical disagreement.
Philosophy is not something easily discussed on Twitch, and I certainly do not think the environment is conducive to it. Early on when I began participating in streams I realized the only way to be relevant or attract people was (to a great extent) to not back down, and avoid what actually makes genuine philosophical inquiry fruitful: leaving your interests at the door at working as a team to search for the right answers.
This isn't to suggest that no one on Twitch does it; however, even if both streamers in a discussion aim at that, toxic viewerbases will always frame it as someone "getting rekt" or "being owner." Charitability is non-existent. And this fuels the streamers to engage in it too. I know firsthand because I've fallen into the trap too multiple times.
"Good content" is not conducive to good philosophy. It can't be. Philosophy isn't designed to be entertaining, and the project of making philosophy entertaining on Twitch is too difficult to be worthwhile.
Serious viewership numbers only come through drama and largely meaningless debate, while genuine philosophical examination earns half that or usually less. Ideas will either be dumbed down to the point where you can't meaningfully justify them, or you are left scratching the surface. Neither of these prospects have ever been appealing to me.
What gets the most views are talking to narcissistic troglodytes who will never open a book in their life as they let their ego consume any sense of rationality they have. That's enjoyable for viewers; immensely infuriating and unenjoyable for me.
I've talked about it repeatedly: the anti-intellectualism of Twitch and YouTube that applies in full force to a sphere like philosophy, where everyone thinks they're an expert. Twitch and its community is filled with people who think a) the project of philosophy is useless, or b) think they are experts in it despite having no experience in the area. This leads to a bunch of discussions where I either feel like I'm talking to a wall, or I talk to someone who I *thought* had even a basic grasp of the concepts up for dispute. It is very rare where I have genuinely thoughtful discussions that don't devolve into (essentially) a lecture. And there is nothing wrong with such lectures, but it's difficult to repeatedly give when it seems what is returned is often animosity and/or dismissal.
I have not been silent about the huge influx of streamers (most of whom I criticize on the left) that constantly talk political gospel from an ivory tower that is made out of sand. When push comes to shove they have zero ability to justify it beyond their feelings. I've written numerous posts on this issue, and it was this issue I intended to bring to the forefront of Twitch this year. However, I don't think I'm cut out to do it for personal and time-management reasons.
These streams, where I try to introduce philosophy to people who repeatedly have shown no interest or respect for the field are *not* enjoyable. They are deeply frustrating, and I am not the person to do this job.
I long for rigorous, literature-based discussion without the constant nawing at the back of my head telling me to aim for higher numbers.
Viewership counts for me because I'm competitive and because I feel I have something to prove. As the only person on Twitch doing the type of content that I've wanted to do, I wanted to show that it is possible to make it entertaining and enjoyable and capable of attracting the type of attention that lukewarm political react Twitch streamers do.
But harder work doesn't reap bigger rewards. Someone is capable of gaining double the views (as a newcomer) by simply reacting to YouTube videos compared to a lecture that is worked on for multiple hours.
This isn't to suggest that the project isn't valuable; however, I must weigh this against my own time and my own abilities. I'm at a crucial stage in my academic career as I near application for PhD programs. This means honing my focus on my writing sample, and ensuring I maintain my GPA. I cannot, under any circumstances, fail at this, and I can't let Twitch get in the way.
I recognize how fortune, privileged, and lucky I was to get such a genuinely enthusiastic reception to my personality and my content over the past year. The fact that at times over 300 people would be watching *just me*, is incredibly humbling. And I'm incredibly thankful to the people who have me many opportunities to showcase myself (for the good or bad), where other streamers will never have such a chance.
This is part of why I'm so reluctant to stop: I see the clear staircase to a genuinely successful and popular career on Twitch. I know what I'd have to do to get there and I'm more than confident I could if I wanted to. And to knock the staircase down before I've really given it a good blow seems to be not just regrettable, but also selfish. Should I not take the opportunity that so so so few people get and are working hard for every day? I wish I could, but it's not the path for me, and I don't enjoy it.
I want my life to be in academia, and I genuinely just want to read books and write papers. That sounds bizarre to some, but that life is 100 times more enjoyable to me than talking in front of a camera at a (necessary) surface level talking to people on political panels that will never have any genuine understanding or interest in the things I want to discuss. That's just a reflection of the fact that I don't love politics, but I love pure philosophy. And, for essentially everyone (and especially those on Twitch), it is the exact opposite.
Many have told me that I just need to give doing these surface-level streams in order to build a steady audience that will be capable of understanding the deeper, more important components of philosophy. This might be true. In truth I never was able to find out because the time required to engage in such a project is astronomical (multiple hours spent preparing a lecture, and then multiple hours spent giving it). Perhaps in the future I will have time to do this, and perhaps Twitch in general will be better ready for it, but I doubt it.
Thank you to all the people who have reached out to me to let me participate in their streams or panels--I'm very grateful to those who gave me those opportunities (especially Destiny). And thanks to everyone who loves tuning into my streams when I did stream and who often took the time to share their experiences with philosophy to me. I mean it genuinely when I say that my number one priority and wish, from the very start, was getting people interested in philosophy.
I'm not ruling out a return to Twitch at sometime in the future, but I am saying goodbye for now while I focus on things that are more important in my life and that I need to devote as much attention to as I can. I'll still be periodically uploading to YouTube and regularly giving my thoughts on matters on my Twitter.
Thank you all.