For a long time I never got how people could expect me to listen to extended rants on YouTube to understand points of view. Admittedly, I have the attention span of a tsetse fly, so maybe I was never the target audience, but the number of links I have been sent for various reasons in response to articles over the years is large enough that I began to wonder why YouTube screamers hold such a sway over people.
And make no mistake, some of these rants are looooooong. Vox Day can go on for 45 minutes at a time. Ditto Thunderf00t or Sargon of Akkad. Alex Jones can yell for literally hours, and seems to weave a hypnotic spell on people.
I’ve come to the conclusion that is exactly what it is: hypnosis.
Lest I sound like a nut, I’d like to present my bona fides real quick. I am a trained and registered clinical hypnotist. I no longer practice professionally, but I do know what I am talking about.
Hypnosis is not mind control. That’s an old trope that just refuses to die. Hypnosis is much more subtle. It has to do with brain waves. There are four types: beta, alpha, theta and delta. Each corresponds to a state of mind. Beta is what I am in as I write this: actively engaged and working and fully awake. Alpha is a more relaxed, passive state. Delta is asleep, and theta the state between alpha and delta. Got it? Moving on.
Hypnosis works by carefully using language to induce a controlled alpha state, because the human mind is more susceptible to suggestion in that state. From there, you work your way forward helping people stop smoking, lose weight, sleep better or whatever they’re there for.
Now, hypnosis uses specific vocal cadences and guided relaxation to get to the alpha state, but it’s a normal mental state we pass through many times a day. Have you ever been taken completely away by a book, or been watching a television show utterly riveted? That’s an alpha state. Most of us don’t really pick up suggestions in those cases. The key to successful hypnosis is repetition. I generally recommended listening to the recordings I made of the sessions every night for three weeks for maximum effectiveness.
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Repetition is something that happens with the Internet-famous shouty men, though. It’s a constant, droning litany of the same talking points regarding their hatred for feminism, foreigners, political correctness and conspiracy theories about cultural Marxism. These people produce an awful lot of content meant to reinforce their worldviews.
Don’t get me wrong; I don’t think any of these people are hypnotists. What I do think is that zoning out watching Vox Day talk at you for hours at a time over the course of 50 videos is a really good way to go into that alpha state, and that these men definitely have the sort of emphatic speech to leave suggestions. Not to perform specific actions, but certainly to alter what you know and what you believe.
Another thing about hypnosis: It’s virtually impossible to make it work against a subject who actively resists it. That’s why The Manchurian Candidate is nonsense and the people who make videos mocking the YouTube screamers don’t absorb their ideas. However, if you’re sympathetic to what’s being said, it will reinforce those beliefs while you are possibly in a state that makes you less likely to critically analyze what’s being said.
My ultimate point is that consuming media irresponsibly can affect the way you see the world, especially if you overconsume it. Be a fan of the alt-right and manosphere YouTube gods if that’s your thing, but, and this is my little joke against them, be beta. Alpha is how you get led.