This interview is part of a series. To read more, check out this week’s Sci+Tech article, .organization!
The McGill Daily (MD): First, what does “LeftTube” mean to you? Is it more of a genre, a community, neither?
NonCompete (NC): In terms of YouTube I’d call it a genre, maybe even a demographic. I think the word “community” gets thrown around too casually these days. YouTube is a capitalist platform and it’s nearly impossible to build a genuine community in an environment like that. We’re all kind of loosely connected but we certainly don’t agree with each other, and for the most part we don’t have many meaningful interactions with each other. Most of the activity on LeftTube is parasocial, which isn’t inherently bad, but it’s something we have to consider when we’re interacting on these kinds of platforms.
MD: What do you see as your goal in creating content? Do you think there’s any overarching or shared goals among creators in this demographic?
NC: So, the number one goal I have as a leftist right now is building up our numbers. The real, revolutionary, anti-capitalist left is on the ropes and has been for decades in the USA where I come from, and it’s an uphill battle trying to push back against the torrent of pro-capitalist propaganda we’re all exposed to from early childhood. So I try to make most of my videos approachable, so that someone who isn’t very familiar with these concepts could watch and hopefully enjoy and learn a few things. As for shared goals, I don’t know. There’s some limited collaboration on LeftTube, we’ll occasionally do video projects together or bounce around ideas, but for the most part we aren’t nearly as connected as we should be. Part of that is working on these capitalist platforms, they’re not designed with real collaboration in mind, they’re designed for individual channels to compete with one another for engagement.
MD: Do you think the nature of YouTube impacts your work? Has your experience been mostly positive?
NC: YouTube absolutely affects everything about what I do. The platform limits me in many ways, and limits the community in many ways. Not only do I have to worry about being censored or suppressed by the algorithm, I also have to do a lot of things differently than I’d prefer to make my content “succeed” on the platform. It’s really not a good platform for free expression, but unfortunately that’s true of ALL corporate-owned and controlled platforms. My experience has been mostly positive but that’s in spite of YouTube, not because of it!
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.