Thursday 27 August 2020

Goodbye to the curse I call Facebook.

A colleague that I worked with when I lived in South Africa recently offered his advice after I had announced my abandonment of Facebook. My knee jerk thought was, I wonder how anyone could you possibly understand my situation, unless they too earn their living on social media. I have no traditional clients. I have no customers. I hold no stock. And yet I have a business doing better now, and growing faster than ever. And I love living in Australia. I cannot praise it enough. The Australian 4wd industry has welcomed me with open arms. My 2020 Land Cruiser build has been supported by Australian accessory makers to an unprecedented level.  And no conditions attached. Just support. I guess they understand like I do, the power of a trusted influencer.


I chose my course as a journalist way back when I started in 1993: Be honest. Have an opinion. Stick to it. But be ready to learn from others. Be humble. But there’s another that I didn’t expect to have to deal with. To put up with shit-for-brains individuals whose egos are too big for them to accept that someone (anyone) might know more than they. And the abject jealousy that I am doing 4×4 stuff and earning a good living at it. Jealousy is a very ugly human trait. I’m broadcast in 153 countries. But one country stands head and shoulders above all the others when it comes to small-minded individuals waiting for a chance to have a go at me. South Africa. While my audience is now 6,5% South African, 96% of the attacks come from its population. I can say with confidence that some of my closest and most beloved fans live in that country, but so do the most vindictive.


I consider myself a successful YouTuber. 4xO is the largest global overland 4wd channel in the world and enjoys more than three times the viewer-count than my closest rival. (Subscribers indicate history, view numbers indicate current popularity). It’s been over six months that the channel received less than 1 million views each month. I am in the top 3% of Patreon earners. These fans chose to pay to watch my shows, even though they can get them for free!  Because they want to be part of a family.


Has the course I set out in 1993 worked? Oh yes!! I know of few motoring journalists who I have worked with that have had close to this success. Most have left the profession and are doing something else. 27 years since I started doing this, I am at the prime of my popularity. But popularity comes at a price.


Here is an example of what I have to deal with:
I posted a video a few weeks back about DC-DC chargers and how they can cause a runaway discharge of the start-battery if used incorrectly. I triple-checked my facts with the engineers who actually design and manufacture the world’s best DC-DC chargers. (Redarc and Victron). And they agreed with my findings totally and without reservation. And yet I was insulted so much that I had to turn off the comments. What I said was and is true. Nothing is immune, least of all advice something technical. 



I have a few choices of how to deal with insults:

·      Ignore them. Trouble is, once read, it can’t be un-read. The discouragement caused is harmful.

·      Block the block-heads, because the discouragement caused is harmful.

·      Stop all comments. But this closes the portal for useful discussion. Everyone learns, including myself. But it’s difficult to learn from someone when their retort opens with the words, “Andrew! Don’t be such a fucking retard.”


Any successful entrepreneur will appreciate the importance of recognising incoming threats well before they become a danger. This is what I am doing now. I’ve spent all my adult life chasing things that I love to do. Nothing has changed. As a result, I’m still doing what I love. But I must protect myself from the one thing that could bring my business down. Could I be discouraged to the point where I give it all up? I won’t let it get to the point when this may be more than rhetorical. It’s no different from firing an employee that is toxic to the operations of a business. Cut and burn. Get rid of them. That’s what I’m doing. I had close to 4900 friends on Facebook. Some are not my friends at all. And a typical FB post reaches just 100 of them. I post on YouTube and its sometimes 100 000 within a few weeks. Losing FB is no real loss to me. It is a loss to some of the FB users, but it’s just not worth the price I pay. These people can still watch all my shows for free. In reality, it’s no significant loss to anyone. While the vast majority of the comments on my channel are encouraging and praiseworthy, I must filter out the toxins. Their motivations are not to teach, share, tell of their experiences. But to tear me down and hope I fail. It’s as clear as day.


Turning my back on the toxin called Facebook was a good move. Done and dusted. I can still advertise there and it’s still open for me to take full advantage of its advertising power, without the poisons filtering through. The FB group will remain open, but I’ll not administer it any more.


Stay safe and be kind to one another.