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Work On Your Game Content/Personal Branding/Create Or To Comment: That Is The Question
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Create Or To Comment: That Is The Question

There was a guy I knew who worked at a company that specialized in helping people manage their online video content. This was around 2015-16ish. The guy told me there was a lot of potential in “commentary videos,” a few of which I’d done before, but not consistently. I’d do stuff like predicting who’d win the NBA Finals, maybe my thoughts on who would win the big awards in the upcoming season, etc. He was right — people did and do like those type of videos. Opinion-sharing is a big thing now; well, it’s always been a thing, but our individual ability to create our own media, from anywhere and at any time, has caused the genre explode.

Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless, formerly TV partners at ESPN (Skip was lured away to FOX by a richer contract offer), are million-dollar earners because of their opinion-sharing and debate skills (though they were both better together, it should be noted, than they are apart now, both now with underwhelming co-stars on their respective shows).

Social media is full of funny guys and funny girls who rush to their cameras and keyboards to record reactions to pop culture news (or non-news). They have followers and attention, if nothing else, and those mean a lot in today’s world.

In politics, it seems the TV personalities’ only purpose is to vehemently argue against the other side, regardless of the topic. But it’s a full-time job though, which means someone must be watching for companies to keep paying these talking heads. I remember watching the Trump-Clinton debates in 2016 leading up to the election; the post-debate debates between the political commentators was just as entertaining as the main events.

Bottom Line: There’s value in commentary, debate and opinion. People are very interested in what other people think about stuff. You could even make a career out of it. And, there’s always something to comment on. The material supplies itself.

But, even after that video management guy advised me that commentary videos had strong potential, I couldn’t commit to them. It felt unnatural to me. I couldn’t base my work on, or know that my method for generating value depended on, talking about other people and their actions. It felt cheap. It felt like being part of the peanut gallery.

(From Google) Peanut Gallery: a group of people who criticize someone, often by focusing on insignificant details.

When you’re a commentator, your work hours are set based on what happens. If LeBron announces he’s joining the Lakers, you have to go write an article, post a reactionary tweet, or get dressed to go on live TV and discuss the breaking news. If Trump tweets something that gets people reacting, your boss is expecting 1,000 words on this “news” no later than the next morning (and your job security is based on the number of clicks your headline generates). The people you “cover” control your schedule.

I couldn’t have my life controlled by what other people are doing. I’ve always been into creating. Instead of being the one leading with opinions, being the person who does the stuff that gets commented on. I’d rather make something new than draft off of something existing. Part of this is me-focused narcissism; part of it is a need for contribution to others; part is my pervasive need to go against the grain.

I told you how I played a random, for-fun game of one on one last week. The comments on YouTube centered on what basketball footage comments on YouTube have always focus on.

You could’ve done better Dre! Dunk on his ass!
That guy you beat isn’t even good! This is supposed to be impressive???
Anyone could have beaten that guy! C’mon, be serious.
Ok, now let’s see you face someone with actual talent!
You wouldn’t have done that against me. Play me next!

I’ve been reading YouTube comments, at least comments on my own content, since 2006. The above is par for the course. I had hoped that by now we’d have more doers and fewer talkers; what I think we’ve actually gotten is more of both. Thing is, media creation being as easy as it is, the doers don’t have to be any good, and commentating is much easier to do, so it will always grow fastest.

Eleanor Roosevelt is credited with saying,

Small minds discuss people. 
Average minds discuss events. 
Great minds discuss ideas. 

I can always dream.

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