Post, Don’t Comment

Youtube is the Olympics of internet commenting. People try very hard to be the first to comment, to give a clever response or add a little context and get thousands of “thumbs ups” for it, to be the one comment that gets “hearted” by the original video poster. They even challenge each other to get “10,000 subscribers with no videos” — that is merely by commenting and then having people subscribe to their channel because of their comments. It’s the ultimate status game and ultimately pointless.

I comment on Youtube about once a quarter, and it’s usually when I see someone who deserves more attention, not someone who’s attention I can benefit from. Every now and then, I’ll try to point people in the right direction, when they’ve found some success but are stuck copying other Youtubers. Most of the time, however, I comment because I’m grateful. Someone made something that resonated deeply with me, and though I might not always explain the connection, I want them to know their effort does not go unseen — even if it’s not seen by many.

The only comments worth making are the ones you want to share with the creator for their own sake, not to score internet points. Anything else is noise and meaningless — and if you actually have a strong take you truly believe in, you should have the guts to post it under your own name.

Every now and then, people have started long chains of arguments under my Medium articles or Quora answers. That’s fair, even cool, but who reads the comments? Why not post your own answer? Well, publishing something on your account is a higher-stakes action than merely leaving a comment. Suddenly, you’re forced to really think things through. After all, you’ll be the one getting the comments, and that can be scary. But most comments are never read by anyone, and so the comment sections under millions of articles on news websites, infinite Reddit posts, and endless Youtube videos are, by and large, deserted wastelands where true attention never passes through.

If you are going to play for attention, do it properly. Post. Publish. Release. Do the scary but right thing of sticking your name on something you’ve made, and then opening it up for the world to see. And if you don’t want attention, then don’t get sucked into a sucker’s game. Only comment when you mean it. When they need it. And when it really makes a difference.