Sucked into YouTube (or, YouTube s***s?)

5 Nov

I got sucked into YouTube the other day. Thankfully, it was for just a bit, about half an hour, which might be a YouTube record for the least amount of time being sucked in!

I went searching for an illustration of a particular martial arts weapon technique. Ten minutes in and out, I figured. However, in sorting through videos in those first ten minutes, and in continuing to search and gawk for the next 20, I quickly came to this conclusion: What I got was largely a great big pile of crap.

Oh, I did find two decent illustrations, and I had expected to get a lot of variety in the mixed bag into which I was reaching. However, even in the top search findings, some of what I saw was really, really sad.

I didn’t care about the video quality. I didn’t care about legitimate variations or preferences in performing techniques. I didn’t care about someone less skilled or trained showing the best they have to offer (actually, I rather like that!). What was sad was that so many people with physical talent, credentials, experience or the best intentions were simply showing flat out improper or useless technique. Stuff was either just flat out poor, technically, or was only meant to be showy and entertain.

I come from a more traditional martial art and a formalized system; I am thus biased toward that tradition and formalized learning process. However, I do know, and can recognize, good technique and instruction, and will acknowledge skill, accomplishment and value when it’s there, regardless of source.

In my martial art tradition and system, one neither willy-nilly throws in all kinds of new things for the sake of being complete nor tosses out things without fully analyzing or understanding what is being discarded and why. Even at my level of fifth degree black belt and twenty years of practice, I tend to leave such matters to my teachers and mentors who are of higher rank and greater experience than me. I trust to leave the big decisions to people who really have what it takes to make that call.

There is much benefit, in my opinion, in such a system in that it offers a thoroughly thought-out, coherent whole that has become what it is through trial, analysis and continued refinement over time. Further, this coherent whole includes not simply what techniques are taught, but as much so includes the overall process of teaching and development of the student: their learning and understanding of techniques and skills over time, and how that instruction of particular techniques both reinforces, and is inhibited by, the student’s overall self — their capability, confidence, character, their overall spirit.  It all fits together, works together, works for the students, and could not have come to be and do so overnight.

That’s the traditional martial arts preaching for the day. So, what might this have to do with anything else?

Distraction with non-essentials and blindness to substantive things have been issues of human nature that have existed forever; religions and spiritual traditions have addressed these as core matters for eons. Such distraction, preoccupation and blindness existed, I imagine, when we lived in caves and exists in new ways in 21st century western culture.

So many things to do. Things to buy! Relationships, or lack thereof, to foster, or neglect, or put aside. Many more things of shine than substance. More things to distract and preoccupy than to support and develop. More opportunity to hear more words in more ways than ever before, but which proportionately seem to have less meaning to offer. Media, celebrity, religious, political and other messages that may offer a lot of content but are not necessarily coherent, solid or valuable, and may not be put together for the ultimate best interest and development of “the students.”

Looking to learn something? Consider the source. Hearing some information? Analyze it, learn the facts, hear what various “masters” have to say. Evaluating or judging actions and situations? Be doggedly unbiased in your analysis. Whether it’s a ripped guy on YouTube, a famous celebrity, or a preferred (or despised) political candidate or party, don’t just buy it and accept it because it looks or sounds good or bad, because it’s popular at the moment, or because it comes from that particular familiar, preferred or “sexy” source. Challenge it. Analyze it. Question it. Make sure it is true, consistent, makes sense, has value and fits into your own, personal, developing, coherent tradition-system. Don’t let something into your system unless it’s truly met the value test and is worth including. If it doesn’t, don’t let it in, or toss it out.

All of these sources are their own YouTube channel. We’re lucky if we can get four minutes of value out of thirty minutes of content. Be discriminating!

One Response to “Sucked into YouTube (or, YouTube s***s?)”

  1. Paul Deputy November 26, 2012 at 23:52 #

    Listen like it was you sharing, and share like it was you listening. Listening and sharing are very important aspects of meaningful human communication.

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