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When I was a teen back in Attawapiskat, other people were my biggest source of information. I relied on others in order to know about how to repair a snowmobile, a four-wheeler or to deal with a simple truck problem. I learned from people how to build with lumber, use construction materials and basic building practices. My uncles showed me plumbing, electrical work, building cabinetry and finishing work. My brothers taught me how to operate and maintain machinery, drive a truck and a variety of other vehicles. I learned a bit about computers from my brother-in-law Brian, who was the only one around with knowledge about new technology.

If I wanted to expand my knowledge on any interest, I had to find some literature to read up on subjects. My parents bought an encyclopedia set in the early 1990s and whenever I needed more academic information for school I often consulted these books. If I wanted to study a certain area or gain skills in a trade, I was faced with having to leave my community and head out for post-secondary education in the south.

All of a sudden in the late 1990s I had access to computers, cellphones and other devices that could be connected to the internet. The internet more or less started as a little wave and then turned into a tsunami. The next thing you know I was wrapped up with Facebook, YouTube and Google. With a simple Google enquiry find out just about anything in the world I wanted to know. It was like having a constantly updated encyclopedia collection at my fingertips.

Whenever I have a question of any kind now, I go to search engines for a solution. If it is a mechanical, technological or computer-related problem, I look at YouTube. I’ve searched through YouTube so often to answer questions about how to build, how to renovate, how to do research for my writing, how to fix my truck, my car or my bike, and for information on health. My addiction to YouTube has to do with the fact that no matter what I want to know I can find someone willing to instruct me in a hands-on video. That has made my life much easier in many ways.

When I have a problem with computing, I enter in a search term with the error message and more often than not, there is someone out there in the world who has posted a solution. According to recent estimates, there are more than 400 hours of content uploaded to YouTube each minute, and one billion hours of content are watched on YouTube every day.

I’ve also had the opportunity to learn about new subjects by watching documentaries made by thousands of creative people who want their voices heard. Some of them are reputable with specialized knowledge to share through such channels as Khan Academy, Yale Courses or MIT OpenCourseWare. Even official news has joined the YouTube world with services such as CBC, Associated Press, PBS and Reuters.

However, there is a large community of people that want to share unusual worldviews on subjects like flat earth, aliens, ghosts, monsters, other dimensions and cults. Still others want to promote extreme political views through talk shows or questionable documentaries that have hidden agendas. A lot of what I see on YouTube and over the internet is downright crazy, rightwing and fantasy being sold as reality.

Perhaps this phenomenon is one reason politics has gotten so bizarre and scary over the past few years. Hitler’s propaganda machine was built on telling the big lie and repeating it often with domination of media so that the general population would end up believing it. Much of what I am being bombarded with these days on the internet and even in traditional media seems to be intent on moving our society away from democracy and towards a fascist-like environment. That scares me and it should frighten you too.

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