Every time the story is told it becomes more chilling than the last. Caleb Cain – West Virginia resident, college dropout, YouTube enthusiast – stalked by an algorithm bent on radicalizing the unsuspecting young lad into a world of rightwing extremism. Thankfully for Caleb Cain, and the entire universe for that matter, the New York Times swooped in and rescued the impressionable young man from his YouTube nightmare, exposing the dastardly algorithm before it could do further harm.
Fresh off his hellish ordeal, Caleb Cain is calling upon legions of YouTubers to take up arms against the wicked algorithm and prevent this fiend of hell from spreading it’s darkness across the land. Appearing on Majority Report, hosted by YouTube celebrity and slayer of strawmen Sam Seder, Caleb urged lefty YouTubers to start injecting themselves into the algorithm as a means of defeating it. As horrifying as the image of confronting the demon may be, this act of purification may be the only means of preventing it from claiming more victims.
To get a rough idea of how many Caleb Cain’s there might be out there operating under the spell of this Svengali-esque algorithm, we need look no further than the 2016 presidential election results. Donald Trump won 68.5 percent of the popular vote in West Virginia, Caleb Cain’s home state. That translates into nearly 490,000 other Caleb Cain’s succumbing to the manipulation of this diabolical algorithm in the Mountaineer State alone.
Host of the popular podcast Savage Love, Dan Savage perhaps best described the sinister power the YouTube algorithm possesses on Friday’s Real Time with Bill Maher. Citing the New York Times “great cover story,” Savage fearlessly called out the algorithm for force feeding unsuspecting white kids in their basements “a steady diet of more and more extreme videos.” In truly terrifying fashion, the YouTube algorithm exploits the consumer’s weaknesses, forcing their hand to click on extreme content all while disabling critical faculties that might lead the viewer to turn away.
One can only imagine the debilitating PTSD Caleb Cain must have fought through during an appearance on CNN’s New Day with Alisyn Camerota. With inspiring bravery, Caleb announced that what we’re really dealing with here is a crisis of public health. Mental health intervention and professional assistance is required to exorcise the algorithm’s powerful grip on the mind and soul of its victims. Despite the real threat of reprisal, Caleb fearlessly promoted his organization on national television to assist those in the throes of rightwing radicalization.
When one thinks of the countless YouTube viewers selling their souls to the algorithm, the number is truly terrifying, and has the potential to make the satanic scare of the 1980’s look like child’s play. But despite the algorithm’s possession of Caleb Cain, forcing him time and again to click on increasingly extreme content, Caleb somehow managed to survive his ordeal and inexplicably emerged as both a consumer and producer of left leaning YouTube content. It is no wonder the New York Times chose to highlight Caleb’s truly inspiring story of grace and redemption on the front page of its Sunday edition. Finally exorcised of the demon algorithm, Caleb Cain begins the life-long process of witnessing to the non-believers and the willfully naive. The soul of a nation is at stake.