Twitch Streaming and Human Connection

I’m a little behind the times, and so I’ve only really just figured out what Twitch is. I’ve always known it to be a streaming platform for gamers, but I’ve never really had a reason to tune in to anyone’s channel.

This autumn has seen the release of many games that have peaked my interest, and so YouTube clips eventually lead me to streams from dedicated full-time gamers. Most are working for tips, as any live performer would, with the more established streamers making a living from subscribers (patrons) and sponsorships.

I remember Twitch being criticised last year for allowing non-gaming streamers on the website, largely because this came in the form of “hot girls” in low-cut tops talking to their camera for tips. It was thought that these streams would take audiences away from the gaming streamers, but the website appears to be as popular as ever.

These non-gaming streams spawned sub-genres such as Music & Arts, Just Talking and Game Shows. Also ASMR — Gently crafted soundscapes to help you relax and sleep.

As someone who dabbled with live streaming around ten years ago, I completely understand the appeal of performing and reaching out to an audience.

Back then it was basic webcams and cheap USB microphones on a now-defunct platform called Blog TV. I never tried to make any extra pocket money from it, but my friends and I put together a 48-hour long livestream to raise money for charity.

Even though huge pockets of that were broadcast were unplanned, I remember having so much fun scheduling segments from various artists, performers and guests — All talented friends who, like me, just wanted to be noticed for a moment whilst doing something to help others.

We switched between webcams to different areas of my attic bedroom that had been converted into an amateur studio. It felt like a reverse Wayne’s World for the digital age.

Life happened, as it always does, and so I stopped streaming — But it was fun while it lasted.

During our two-day livestream we were featured on the front page and peaked at around five-hundred viewers, which is a drop in the online ocean compared to the number of viewers that top Twitch streamers get nowadays.

As I type these words, the two most watched channels in the world right now have 50,000 and 25,000 viewers each. They’re playing the games Fortnite and a little game you may have heard of, called Chess.

The most beautiful thing about this is that twice as many people are watching masters play chess than are watching a Fortnite streamer. I guess you can’t beat the classics.

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The overall Twitch community doesn’t seem to be too healthy, but like all digital social circles it’s hard to pin-down exactly who the average Twitch user is. Some streamers will have an obscene chat, filled with memes and bigotry — Whereas others will have a positive chat, filled with memes and love.

So I guess memes are probably the common trend, and you cultivate a community that reflects your personality.

I find it difficult to keep the chat open whenever I’m watching a stream, because it’s usually a barrage of nonsensical noise, with people looking to connect to the host.

That’s the really interesting thing about live-streaming — The connections people are looking to make.

In the digital age we’re all just looking to connect to others. Every time we post a Tweet, photo or update, we’re asking for people to notice us. We want to be recognised, seen and heard in an increasingly loud world.

As much as I keep this daily blog for personal reasons, I can’t deny that my heart is warmed whenever someone likes a post or comments on some nonsense I’ve written.

Social media induced endorphins man; The real drug that’ll get you.

Streaming though, particularly on Twitch, is a raw and extreme version of that connection. Sure you can glam yourself up, change how you behave and even adopt a persona, but ultimately you’re putting more of yourself out there for the world to see than in, say, a photo on Instagram.

You’re live, you’re unfiltered and you’re asking to be noticed.

I think it takes a dash of ego to be a successful streamer — To plug away for so long in order to gain an audience. But I also think that bravery is a crucial trait, just because of how exposed you leave yourself to a faceless crowd.

I’ve seen explicit and inappropriate things in Twitch chats, largely directed at female streamers who’re just trying to play a video game and, presumably, not looking for men to describe how they would get into her pants.

But I’ve also seen the uplifting — The harmless communities formed around a shared interest and personality, the stories told to each other, and the games played together.

The most interesting part of this platform, for me, is the new streamers. The people who’re playing to an audience of less than five, but are still trying just as hard to gain a following.

This next bit is going to sound a little creepy, but imagine me approaching this with Louis Theroux levels of inquisitiveness and it’ll seem a little better.

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I’ve found myself scrolling to the least-viewed streams of a game and tuning in. In some cases I’m the only viewer, and the person is just sat there, playing their game. Then, after a few moments they notice they have someone watching (me), and so they begin a performance.

They start to commentate themselves, and make a few forced jokes. You watch them transition from someone practicing a routine at home, to performing that same routine on a stage, as they shift from one version of themselves to another.

It’s fascinating to watch, but I don’t linger for too long, as the interaction is all one-sided. They talk into a microphone and I watch, both of us gaining some kind of distant human connection for a moment before parting ways for good.

As I said, a little creepy, but it’s so intriguing to witness a live version of someone looking to fill that basic human need of connection. And not only that, but at its very root.

Watching someone stream to an audience of two is like noticing that someone in the room wants to say something — The connection isn’t fully formed yet, but they’re trying, in order to connect to others. And in that seed for potential interaction you see a familiar struggle — You see yourself and everyone you’ve ever known.


Today is Wednesday, November 28th and my cat jumps at windows to get the bird, but she never gets the bird.

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VK and Yandex

I do not posses the investigative-journalism skills needed to write something genuinely insightful on what I’ll be rambling about today. However I couldn’t find any written pieces about it, but if anyone does I’d very much appreciate the link.

I was browsing the Alexa rankings in the US — as you do from time to time, just to see how the old internet is doing — and something really stood out to me. VK.com (VKontakte) is currently the 30th most frequented website in the US, ahead of the New York Times, Hulu and Apple. Yandex.ru is the 33rd most visited site in the US, ahead of Yelp, Walmart and Dropbox.

These are both Russian websites, with VK being a massive social media network often equated to Facebook, and Yandex largely serving as a search engine akin to Google.

Now, before I continue with my disconnected thoughts over a rather large morning mug of coffee, I want to say that the following words are purely speculation. Someone a lot smarter than me, with an extensive knowledge of online media, will be able to swiftly explain why these two websites have been trending upwards on the US Alexa rankings for the last two years. What I’m doing is nothing more than emptying my thoughts onto a blank internet page.

I can’t be clear enough — This is not journalism.

Okay, here I go *clears throat*

Yeah but… Pretty weird thing, isn’t it?


Today is Friday, September 14th and I hope everyone has a great weekend!


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No? I can’t just do that? Okay, fine. I’ll write this properly — If I absolutely bloody must.

Obviously we all know about the allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, and various other democratic votes in the West, including Brexit. Putin denies it on a weekly basis, asking people to show him the evidence. When people then show evidence that Russia (at the very least) “meddled”, he shrugs his shoulders and says that it’s fake evidence.

The ongoing Mueller investigation seeks to find links between the campaigns of the 2016 presidential race and Russian influence. So far plenty of links  (including meetings, memos, offers and state-sponsored agents) have been found among the Trump campaign. But I have to ask — wHat abOUt the eMaiLs!?

In all seriousness, I trust the investigation. Mueller is a Republican who appears to put his country before his party. If he had any special interest it would be to protect Trump, but he obviously isn’t doing that. If Mueller comes out in a year with his report and says that there was no collusion, I’ll believe him. I can’t speak for other filthy lefties, but I think we have to believe in the process of justice and accept the outcome no matter what — Otherwise we sound like O J. Trump.

That was meant to be like “Orange J. Trump” but I now realise it looks like an OJ Simpson reference, and in no way am I saying that Donald has killed someone.

Damn it… Also, in no way am I saying that OJ Simpson killed anyone.

See, this is how you can tell this isn’t real journalism.

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In the past I’ve written about Russian collusion not being for or against any political party, but that alleged state-sponsored “troll farms” are seeking to sew discord across Western democracies in general. Putin has found a way to win a war with America without deploying any troops, simply by getting Americans to turn on each other.

If you use Twitter or Facebook you’ll see that when someone gives an opinion that’s textbook right or left-wing, they’re accused of being a Russian bot. You can usually tell if they really are with a quick profile check, as the account is probably less than a month old and yet has 5,000+ followers. The profile picture is either not an image of a person, or is a stock photo of some kind. However, because it parrots their personal opinions and people don’t check before they “endorse”, thousands still like and retweet the content of the bot.

There’s proof that these troll farms exist, and that they exist in Russia, but to be convincing enough as genuine concerned US citizens, they’ll need to use a US IP address, right?

This is where the conspiracy seeps in, and I wish I’d checked out of this morning blog post three minutes ago, because I loathe speculation.

What if workers at these (alleged) state-sponsored Russian troll-farms are using American IPs to spread discord and distrust on social media, but they’re then checking their own personal social media (VK) and searching the web (Yandex) from the same device? It would be kind-of sloppy of them, but what if these websites are the home-pages on the devices they use? So it’s what automatically pops up whenever they change their IP.

I don’t know, I just find it hard to believe that more Americans are using Russian social media and search engines, than are watching The Handmaids Tale or ordering groceries online or buying the iPhone 15.X. Mainly because I’ve had conversations about these things with Americans, sometimes even strangers, but never have we discussed the benefits of using VK over Facebook, or how Yandex is a really rad search engine.

Maybe because nobody says rad anymore — But they should dammit!

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You can look up the Alexa rankings for yourself, a service powered by Amazon that tracks web-usage country by country. If it were rigged they’d probably put Amazon at the top, so I’m inclined to believe the data is legitimate.

As I said at the beginning, I would love nothing more than for someone to educate me on why these two websites are so popular in the US. It’s not as though China’s top search engine and social media are big-hitters on this side of the world, so why are Russia’s? It all just seems a little suspicious given the current climate.

If there’s one takeaway from all of this, that holds true regardless of whether or not this is all just conspiratorial thinking, it’s that you should be vigilant online.

I’ve written and preached on multiple occasions that you should always check your sources, so that you know where and who your news is coming from. But you should also critically examine anything you see on social media when it comes from someone you don’t know.

If your Facebook friend goes off on a racist rant then you know that’s just Jerry being Jerry, he’s an arse but you know him and you know he’s not a Russian troll. But if John America with 5,000 followers says:

“Interesting how we’re looking at Trump when IN FACT Hilary has managed to escape prison on several occasions for running pedophile rings below pizza parlours??? #lockherup #MAGA”

Then you should maybe be suspicious about where that information comes from.


Today is Friday, September 14th and I really do hope you all have great weekends. Stay safe and be kind.

Tip My Jar?

If you like what I write and can spare a dollar, then it’d be a greatly appreciated act of kindness! If you like what I write and can’t spare a dollar then I greatly appreciate you! If you hate what I write and also can’t spare a dollar, then why are you still reading this?

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