i dont read chat

Everybody, he is learning, likes to hear themselves talk. Hubris, like the oldest stories. They raise the antenna too high, broadcast for too many minutes, assume the world offers safety and rationality when of course it does not.Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See

The community aspect of livestreaming is a nightmare. At best, you end up entertaining the same handful of diehard shut-ins. At worst, it's detrimental to mental health. While many broadcasters are capable of managing the parasocial aspect, it was never in my interest. There's a whole essay that could be written on the damaging effects of building and maintaining anonymous audiences, but I'll leave that for another day.

I stopped opening the Twitch Dashboard in January 2022. After then, maintaining a regular schedule and high level of motivation got much easier. There was no anxiety attached to the activity, aside from the usual concerns over quality and timing. And, perhaps most importantly, my enjoyment of the games I played on 'stream increased. Without chat, there was no fear of spoilers or reading some random person's opinion on the game or my play. I found, too, that I was relying overmuch on livestream parasocial interactions. Shutting it down forced me to go back to traditional methods: calling people on the telephone, face-to-face meetings, and writing letters. This too has was a huge boon for mental health. I'm not saying this was a cure-all that would work for everyone, but it did wonders for me.

I had this one partnered 'streamer that I used as a case study. They'd been livestreaming since 2015, had more than 14,000 followers, and 'streamed for an average of 8 hours a night. They regularly had between 100 to 200 concurrent viewers, more with raids. Yet throughout their 'streams, it was always the same three to five people who were active in the text chat. And when their 'streams ended, a mere three to five people bothered saying goodbye, and only one or two of those were ever subscribers. In early 2022, the 'streamer held a month-long subscriber drive, and ended up with fewer subscriptions than they started with (discounting gifted subs). During the event, they held regular giveways that fewer than 15% of the supposed concurrent viewers entered. If these numbers don't tell you how worthless of a time investment livestreaming is, I don't know what will. In my time as an affiliate 'streamer, I had a greater level of engagement with one-tenth of the viewership and a far smaller following. So I questioned whether it was worth spending energy on servicing chat, or even livesteaming at all. Because—make no mistake—parasocializing was exhausting. And it wasn't just the active messaging, but the anticipation of messaging. It was a big waste of my vital life essence.

Thus, four months after finding my path of least resistence, I made the ultimate decision to stop 'streaming entirely. My last livestream was on May 19, 2022, after more than ten years on Twitch. I doubt I'll ever return, but stranger things have happened.

If you supported my livestreams, thank you.

Have a great day.

† 2023 Update: This ‘streamer was still toiling, and ran a transparent event where their total income was on full display. Over the course of forty-five days of livestreaming more than 270 hours, they earned a heartbreaking US$2.50 per hour. That includes bits, subscriptions, donations, and merchandise sales. I wept.

2022.05.20 – 2023.11.30

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