It’s All Fun & Games
You know that I’ve spent some time dabbling as a streamer, and while that’s tapered off to perhaps a once a week thing it doesn’t mean I’m not a regular when it comes to participating in other people’s streams. Being a part of live stream communities is fun, and for me, a great way to feel social when I’m stuck in the silence of working from home, cleaning house, etc.
While I’d love to take some time out to analyze the subtle-yet frustrating nuances of being part of streams such as the “what game is this?” phenomenon or the needy pay-attention-to-me-at-all-times chat participants (every stream has at least one), today I want to talk about something that’s actually a problem. Not one of the silly aforementioned nuances among streamers and their communities, but the slightly more serious topics of false sincerity and blind support. What do I mean by these? Let’s jump in.
Preamble on Streaming Culture
These communities of people are built on and revolve around the very sense thereof. Inside jokes, running themes, memes, mutual interests and even at times, some healthy discourse. It can be a great way to socialize, build relationships, and even do some good too by participating in the occasional gaming marathon or charity event.
Much like any other hobby, part of its growth and health relies on fresh blood constantly being cycled into the scene. New streamers pop up every day, some of them have it all planned out with slick graphics, a theme, and a schedule – others just wing it and see what happens. There’s no right or wrong way to get started, as long as you’re enjoying yourself.
Blind Support & Its Side-Effects
Unfortunately though, I feel a good number of newer streamers become disillusioned and give up or become disheartened for a variety of mostly avoidable reasons, and a big one is having a false sense of their current status or being overwhelmed by mob mentalities. A big factor here is what I refer to as blind support. This is when one streamer without much regard gives their stamp of approval to another, or instructs their community to go follow and support another that they often know nothing about.
A few key components to blind support that I find to be potentially destructive:
- An established streamer haphazardly sending their followers to smaller channels to support them, sometimes just to show how ‘community oriented’ they are. “If you’re a streamer in chat, type X” followed by an immediate “alright everybody go give these folks a follow!”
- I feel like there’s no way you can take such a wide swath of people like this and not manage to at least accidentally suggest a few turds in the process. Seems dangerous.
- It’s hard to feel special when a shout out includes yourself and 20 other streamers. This is nothing more than a participation award.
- Streamers of any size who make statements like “go follow X, they’re great” without knowing much (or anything) about the person they just promoted, or their content.
- I’ve had this happen to me, and while it’s flattering – I’m definitely not for everyone. It’s hard to say “thanks for the shout out” but also “you may be making a grave mistake” all at the same time.
- This may also upset the originating streamer’s core audience after realizing the poor suggestion wasn’t a good fit for them to begin with.
- Generally any behavior that encourages people to give out a follow or subscription like it’s nothing.
- Save it for someone special, kiddos.
Not to sound like a prude, but giving out your follow to someone should be taken with some at least mild consideration. Following someone makes a statement. It says “I like you” and “I support what you’re doing here”, and generally you should take more than .04 seconds to form that opinion of someone’s content. Even more so a subscription says “I like this so much I’m going to pay you, please don’t stop.”
What if you follow someone but then come to realize you really actually don’t like their content for whatever reason. Maybe it’s their personality, maybe it’s the tone of their chat/moderators, maybe they’re a huge fucking racist and you just didn’t know it yet? I feel like people who come into followers this way, especially those new to streaming get a false sense of how well they’re doing. If 50 people from a raid pop over and hit someone’s follow button, but none of them ever actually intend to watch them stream, what did they actually gain?
False Sincerity, Mob Mentality
That’s the core of it really, the “fauxerity” comes into play when streamers take their personas overboard (which they often do) by demanding positivity or some other sort of compliance (or non-compliance) with their audiences. Just because someone creates content doesn’t mean it’s worthy of support. Sorry, it’s the truth. This ‘support all streamers at all costs‘ mentality is bonkers to me. Why not just be genuine? Wouldn’t it lead to a healthier community overall? Sure it might grow slower than others, but at least that growth would be authentic.
This is an issue I’ve at least seen especially on Mixer (previously Beam) where there are a lot of small streamers promoting each other, which is fine, but it can also be misleading. There’s also this strange mob mentality in some of those communities that just turns into pure toxicity if you were to even bring stuff like what we’re discussing here up in chat. It’s like a weird cult of forced-acceptance and mentality of not talking about topics that are taboo among streaming communities.
A Simple Request
While this post isn’t meant to be a guide, or a “you’re doing it wrong” piece by any means. All I’m trying to convey here is precisely what following / supporting someone actually represents. There are lots of ways you can give support without “smashing that follow button” or haphazardly and unknowingly making demands or recommendations of people. You can for example, retweet someone’s stream or take a few minutes out of your day to catch one of their shows or VODs before going and tossing them in your support command. You can just stop in and say “hey, I like what you’re doing here”. Find out what a streamer is all about, and what their content is all about before you go shouting their name from the rooftops. That’s all I’m really suggesting.
Sometimes I follow something because I find their setup interesting or want to see more and the only way I’ll find them in the glut of folks streaming is through my follows. Even though I have subs I’m pretty picky about who I sub to because I don’t have amazing amounts of money to throw around. Some folks do and I guess if they want to then that’s fine.
I do get what you mean with the false enthusiasm and some folks are like that, but I kind of view it like an announcer at an event. “Stay in your seats folks, we’ve got a great comic coming up!”, but the thing is most of twitch is full of amateur stand-up. Some might be wonderful and those tend to flourish, some might have one good night/week/month. It’s literally the same as CBS showing ‘whats on next’ but since it is a person we can relate to more we trust more. Maybe that is what it comes down to, but I’m pretty stingy so it will take a lot more than a call-out.
I suppose I definitely see that as a “bookmark” of sorts, wanting to come back later to see what’s going on, or to use as a source of inspiration for your own stream. I also dig your analogy, I just hold those follows really close to my chest I suppose. Maybe I am a prude about all of this!