My You Tube channel has become my largest audience, now eclipsing my web site visits, TV show viewers and book readers combined. (Over 2,5 million views) And the great thing about YouTube is that I get feedback. Some feedback is positive and some negative.
It’s obvious that so many of the channel’s comments are based on the viewer’s personal feelings toward a brand of motor vehicle. So often, comments angle themselves to criticize the view because it throws into positive light, a brand that is not theirs. In the case of the Land Rover VS Land Cruiser video, the single most popular on the channel, (http://youtu.be/ptiE501ZdwM) viewers are trying to figure out which of the brands I own and therefore am biased towards. Judging by the comments, this is about 50/50. I think this is proof that it’s a pretty unbiased review. But no matter the comment, I always consider well what has been suggested. True, most times I don’t agree with the comment, but I will never delete it just because the opinion differs from mine.
But there have been occasions that I have deleted the comment because it has really ticked me off. For example, there is one regular viewer named Stephan. He is a Pajero owner, and he has systematically gone through lots of my YouTube videos and made comment after comment disagreeing with my view. Now in this case, he is not reacting to my opinion, but the fact that it is me giving it. Because I did not give the Pajero a particularly favorable review in 2009, Pajero owners have done their worst to challenge my views. Stephan is one person who demonstrates that Pajero owners are more irrational about their brand of choice than even the Toyota and Land Rover set. I never thought that was possible, but it is.
In the case of Stephan, I eventually blocked him from my YouTube channel. Some reading this may think I did the wrong thing. But he was not contributing to the channel, but doing the opposite. And he was doing it because of a blind loyalty to a brand that had clearly narrowed his mind. He was not watching the videos for their entertainment or technical value, but rather to try and find something to disagree with so that he could post a veiled insult. I say, don’t expect to get away with a post like, “You just don’t get it, do you?’ Directed to me, or any other contributor, and you are gone for good.
There was another chap, who posted comments on a video I uploaded that is a short monologue, with me stating why 4×4 and overland is the best thing in the world, and why we are sometimes misunderstood.
It’s had about 9000 views including a hundred thumbs-up and many very positive comments. Then along comes a bike rider so full of his own importance that he insults me, and then insults everyone who rides a 4×4. It wasn’t a comment and opinion, but a blatant, self-righteous insult. Should I have blocked him? I did.
This past week I’ve had I lively discussion with a person who accused me of ‘being from another planet’. He suggested that I have no experience at all and that I should have got some before doing the Discovery on Baboons Pass trip. The cause for this was my idea that raising the tyre pressures, instead of lowering them, would protect them. Everything this chap said was correct, technically. But this unusual occasion called for a different approach. Since the trip, I have consulted several 4×4-men I respect, and asked them, “Did I do the right thing by making the tyres very hard?” The response has been mostly “Yes, I think you did”. I think I did. I had no punctures or ripped sidewalls, the thing that would have brought the entire vehicle test to a halt. This chap still thinks I have no idea what I am taking about, and I have left the discussion there.
I do like to encourage this kind of dialogue. But it does irk me a bit that it was automatically assumed, that because my opinion differed from his, that I am branded as “knowing nothing”. And this kind of comment is so often directed towards anyone offering a differing opinion. When I do a good review, like the Disco or the Fortuner, owners of other brands so often will comment, “I hope they [the manufacturers] paid you a lot”, or similar. I don’t get paid by anyone to do these videos. I never have. I say it like I see it and I spurn any kind of brand loyalty. If I like a vehicle, I like it for what it is and can do, not who builds it.
The comment that got me to write this article was a viewer who penned a comment, following this tyre discussion. He didn’t agree with me, or the other guy, but commented that going through the string of comments, noticed the stupidity and narrow-mindedness caused by brand loyalty.
I was once accused in a letter published by Leisure Wheels Magazine, of being ‘unprofessional’. This because I suggested that the Bridgestone 694 tyre was not as good an all-rounder as the BFG AT. If I recall correctly, his name was also Stephan. Stephan had this unexplainable attachment to the name stamped on a large, round, black rubber thing. I just don’t get it! To me, this condition is called FMAS, or Faceless Multi-national Attachment Syndrome.
But this kind of thing does affect some journalists, and I am one of them. The consequence of the Pajero owner’s campaign against me has made the Pajero the vehicle I dislike the most. And it’s not because of the vehicle itself, but the people who drive them. I had the pleasure of driving a Pajero Sport a few months back. And I liked it a lot. But I will not write about it. I wouldn’t dare because I am too scared to be honest. For example, is it as good a value as the Toyota Fortuner?