A few years ago, I wrote product descriptions for Walmart's website. Once I got into the swing of things, I quite enjoyed it and it was always a bit of a lucky dip to see what stuff I'd be sent to write about - it could be anything from pool filters to action figures to black paper plates. I hoped to go back to that work, but the company have since changed their rules so that they only employ American citizens/residents (before, all you needed was a Paypal account). So, I looked into similar work I can sandwich in-between my teaching hours.
I think I've ended up in a Cabin In The Woods sequel. One that replaces the monsters for a scathing commentary on social media and internet 'celebrity'. You see, I'm currently transcribing video clips. The pay is pretty poor, to be honest, but I'm going to stick doing it for a little while because, well, I literally have no idea who's using the service.
I've done three clips so far, all between 20 and 30 minutes in length. The first one was some kind of lecture/Excel spreadsheet tutorial by a chap with a heavy Japanese accent. I figured one of his students needed it transcribing, given the heavy accent. I also thought this would form the brunt of the work - transcribing lectures for students. Except the second clip was of a Youtuber: A young black man, using the n-word a copious amount of times, and answering a viewer's question. That question was 'why do black women show their cleavage in church?'
Now, turns out the host was a deacon's son, so that kind of explained the subject matter. But he said some pretty rough things about women that I obviously won't repeat. It then became apparent he's some kind of science student, as the clip ended with him holding one-sided conversations concerning upcoming exams (he was reading comments on his computer screen).
And the third clip was of two apparently-teenage girls doing a Ouija board. I swear I'm not making this up.
They were sat on a bed, talking into a webcam and occasionally checking their phones to read/answer comments. I initially thought I was watching some kind of home video project, or even some kind of super weird sex-cam fetish thing, but then they started mentioning Youtube and their 'stream'. The Ouija board section of their 20 minute video was practically useless, as they--sorry, the spirit--spelled out absolute nonsense. This didn't stop them from getting freaked out in a 'feed each other's fear' type scenario - you know, when one person's calm but because the other person keeps saying or acting a particular way, it starts to influence the calm person's behaviour? That.
I have absolutely no idea who would want these last two things transcribed. Neither contained any information that would benefit being read or stored. The 'church' one made me think I was amassing evidence against the host and his underground group of 'black women in church' haters, but the Oujia one put me most in mind of CABIN IN THE WOODS.
In CABIN IN THE WOODS, the company is storing monsters and using them to kill people in strict horror movie ways, in order to appease ancient gods. Maybe this transcription company (or someone using the service) is making sure certain people stream certain things, in order to meet some esoteric internet quota? I honestly have no idea quite what I'm on about, but I can't shake this feeling that some mysterious force is cataloging Youtubers for reasons unknown. Of course, the Youtubers themselves might want it doing, but again, I can't think of any possible reason why, except either misguided vanity or a weird need for compiling their own work.
Although I'm not being entirely serious about all this Bilderberg-baiting stuff, it's definitely weird. The real concern I have is how easily people share certain things online (names, location, etc). I wish they (and especially young people) would bear in mind that, okay, they might only have a few subscribers, but that doesn't mean they're not being monitored in some other way, so please, please be careful about what information they share. You never know who's watching! *dramatic music*