Hunter walks around arguing politics with strangers on Avallone, Twitch and YouTube. He was shocked when someone sent him a strange message about it last August Covid-19 vaccines.
Growing up in Canada’s Bible Belt, David Argenti told Avallone in a message he shared with viewers, “Someone loses their soul after taking it.” “Nothing made me believe otherwise.”
For more than half an hour, the two argued back and forth in a biblical debate, as well as a scientific one. Avallon revealed the facts and examined the meaning of the biblical parts presented to him by Argentina. The argument ended amicably, and a week later Argentina was vaccinated.
The broadcasters of this debate succeed in transforming people like Argentina, using logic, humor and compassion to connect with people with extremist views. Debaters like Avallone spend hours each day discussing politics and current events, often pushing their audiences out of the abyss of misinformation. They have become an unofficial part of a union of fact-checkers and researchers struggling to spread the facts. COVID-19, election security and Russia’s intervention in Ukraine.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the flow of debates has led to an increase in the number of hours watched on Twitch and YouTube, with political topics attracting more and more fans. According to Jason Krebs, CEO of creative tools provider StreamElements, Twitch’s Policy category tripled from May 2021 to May 2022, with more than 1.7 million hours of viewers.
These broadcasters have made a living by arguing and discussing politics. They make money from ads, subscriptions, and donations from their followers, ranging from a few dollars to $ 100.
Fight where misinformation is spread
Misinformation U.S. surgeon General Vivek Murthy and Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Robert Califf called it a threat to American health. One analysis found that more than 300,000 COVID-19 deaths could have been prevented through vaccinations, which are often the target of misinformation.
Argentina’s extremist views on COVID vaccines have been proven safe and effective – stems from religious origin. At the time of the discussion, he was 22 years old and living in the Canadian Gospel, south of Ontario. His family and social circle are part of a Christian denomination that has spoken out against COVID restrictions during the height of the pandemic and provided great personal services. As the vaccines spread, their views on the shootings were overwhelming.
Argentina had little doubt about the allegations. He said his parents urged him not to be vaccinated and shared documents and videos with him, which he now calls propaganda.
After the discussion, he said he understood that the vaccine was not only “safe and effective,” but that it was a moral blessing to receive it, and that it was necessary to take it. He added that he felt it was a “moral obligation” to be vaccinated to protect others based on scientific evidence.
Despite the efforts of both Twitch and YouTube to prevent the flow of misinformation on their platforms, debate broadcasters are not lacking in people who will argue. Both sites are still full of misinformation and people sharing conspiracy theories and false allegations against his fans.
Change sides with Hunter
Avallo’s success in reaching his audience may be due to his transformation from a conservative flame to a progressive sympathizer. He started making screenplay videos more than six years ago and was considered a young, conservative YouTube star. He created content full of right-wing conversations and regularly targeted progressive issues such as systematic racism and gender equality. In 2019, he began to question where he stood politically.
“I’ve come across a lot of information and data, as well as arguments I’ve never heard before,” Avallone said. “And all of this, along with what happened in my personal life, made me re-evaluate my beliefs.”
Avallone finally changed his political orientation completely and started broadcasting live instead of screenplay videos. He said he enjoyed communicating with the audience, as well as the free flow of conversation. In late 2020, he began a live debate policy on YouTube and Twitch when political polarization in the United States was in full swing.
Avallone said he analyzed his speeches and found different rhetorical approaches. In a dispute with Argentina over COVID vaccines last year, he used his understanding of the Bible to challenge the belief that the vaccine was given by the devil.
“I still believe that the approach I took there was probably the best, because if you believe the vaccine is actually a sign of a wild animal that doesn’t fit the biblical text,” Avallone said. He said there was no point in using something that was considered satanic, as Argentina believed at the time, to heal people.
Although shocked by Argentina’s bizarre argument, Avallone did not resort to hominem attacks and insults. Instead, he met with Argentina halfway through to think about the questions and answer them seriously.
Avallone said he received messages from people saying his debates and videos changed his mind about conspiracy theories or alienated them from far-right conservatism. He said it was encouraging and satisfying to change people’s minds.
“I take very seriously the fact that I have alienated another person from conspiracy, fanatical beliefs or harmful hyper-religious beliefs,” he said.
It is difficult to change your mind
Although arguing can change a person’s mind, it requires a little more than rhetorical skills.
Michael Phillips-Anderson, a professor of communication at the University of Monmouth who studies political rhetoric, does not believe that repeating these debates to a wide audience will be effective in changing a wide range of minds at once. The key to changing one’s mind about one’s position is to move one’s beliefs a little.
“One of the biggest challenges is what we call disobedience,” he said. “If we are completely attached to our own views, then there can be no change. And in general, we live by wanting others not to be attached to their own wrong views, but it is good that we are connected to our own views.”
This “non-alignment” helps broadcasters change the minds of the people they discuss directly with, or viewers looking for live broadcasts for information or entertainment, on a smaller scale. Avallo’s previous conservative beliefs had room for a bit of a stir, and he said an argument with another broadcaster changed him.
Ian “Vaush” Kochinski has been making and broadcasting progressive political videos for more than three years. Discussed with Avallone in June 2019 and takes a partial loan due to a change in policy.
Unlike Avallo, Kochinski does not spend much time researching the subject and does not even try to expose the conspiracy theories he will discuss. He found that some of the rivals who instigated the assassinations knew more than could be easily found on the Internet. When arguing with those who have strong beliefs, he considers it important to be personal.
“It simply came to our notice then [his debate opponent] To make them laugh is to break this illusion a little by coming out differently than they expected. Maybe a little happier or kinder than they expected. ”
For Avallone, the way to reach this winding room for his debate audience is to offer an alternative story. He said that instead of simply presenting facts to prove Argentina was wrong, he focused on arguing what was more convincing.
“Do you think this is a kind of evil plan of Satan to deliver a vaccine that heals people and protects them from the virus? Or do you think there is a pandemic today and we have a vaccine as always?” he said.
It all starts with Destiny
Steven “Destiny” Bonell is an sometimes controversial broadcaster, noting that many are the actual creators of the political Twitch stream. He started broadcasting games on Twitch’s predecessor Justin.tv in 2010. Bonnell was a professional gamer who played Starcraft II games online, but in 2016, he became interested in arguing with people and started talking about politics in his broadcasts.
His political currents influenced both Avallone and Kochinsky, the latter being part of his community and leaving on his own. Bonnell has changed his mind for years.
In 2019, The New York Times wrote about Caleb Cain, then 26, who criticized him after being part of the right-wing movement for five years. One of the events that helped Cain change his mind was Bonnell’s argument with Lauren Southern, a far-right activist at the time. Cain considered Bonnell the winner in his 2017 immigration debate, and according to the Times, his alternative right view began to crack.
Although Bonnell Twitch is on YouTube and other streaming platforms instead, it is still being discussed today. He was removed from the gaming platform earlier this year for violating community rules on “promoting, encouraging or facilitating discrimination or humiliation of a group of people for protected characteristics.”
He said he still did not say exactly why it was banned, but speculated that it had to do with his history of using “fiery language” or his comments to some online trans activists. Twitch did not respond to a request for comment.
Throughout his career as a broadcaster, Bonnell, like Avallone and Kochinski, changed his tactics from overt aggression, trying to meet the person halfway and slowly change his mind.
“In order for them to accept that everything I said is true, they will have to accept a deeply disturbing analysis of themselves,” Bonnell said. “It shows that they are bad people. No one is a bad person in their own right.”
Like Avallon, during the pandemic, he discussed people opposed to the COVID-19 vaccine and was able to persuade some to change their position.
When Argentina was confronted with her own beliefs about the COVID vaccine, she said she was worried and scared. He knew that changing his mind on the subject would cause cracks in his social circle, but he wanted to do what he thought was more likely to provide both the right and the best.
He said his community would go to hell and humiliate him, but in the end he said he was glad he was still vaccinated.