Some people take YouTube drama pretty seriously. It’s sort of like those celebrity gossip magazines that used to focus on who was cheating on who. I mean they’re still out there, they just don’t have as big an audience.
But millions of people tune in to watch the Paul brothers as they doodle around in YouTube land picking fights with other random tubesters.
To be clear, I have no interest in weighing in on the drama. I don’t care who is more shallow or who ripped off who’s material. I just think these stunts make great examples to teach proper argumentation.
Not the dusty kind of arguments where you cry fallacy and ad hominem. These are real people, who couldn’t logic their way out of a paper bag, tossing snotty comments at each other in front of an audience.
In that setting, given your audience is not a team of logicians, how do you properly stand your ground? Jake Paul shows several great examples of what not to do.
The guy he ambushes does a bit better. But I think he could use a few pointers as well. Let’s start by watching their bizarre encounter:
What Could Jake Paul Have Done Better?
The first thing Jake Paul could have done better was to respond to Cody Ko in kind. The guy made fun of his hair and complained about the quality of his music videos.
But instead of just tossing some shade back at the guy Jake calls him a “cyber bully” and accuses him of harassing kids.
Now maybe Cody does harass kids. I dunno. But if you’re going to accuse someone of something serious you probably should have at least one example to back it up.
Jake doesn’t. Cody asks him several times and Jake just mumbles something about how bad cyber bullying is.
The problem with making such a grand claim and then whiffing is that it sets the bar too high. Jake starts by saying Cody is a sociopath who shouldn’t be allowed to talk to children.
Once that flops he retreats to basically saying Cody said something mean this one time. That might have seemed like a serious complaint if he’d led with it. But after making a bunch of much stronger allegations, the meat of what he’s saying seems trivial.
The other major mistake Jake makes is his posture. He seems nervous, figgity and scattered. If you know you’re getting ready to confront someone about something and you’re feeling nervous try and sit down.
First of all sitting helps calm you. But it also helps cover up the shakes. if there’s a table to sit at your knees can go buck wild and no one will have any idea that you’re dying inside.
Also, avoid laughing nervously. People do this to try and show that they don’t care about the issue when they’re nervous. But if it’s worth arguing about then you probably should care a little bit.
If you’re yelling at someone and fully convince your audience you don’t care then you just seem like an asshole. Stick with a firm calm look of concern. Clench your chin and nod periodically. When you want to make a firm point frown and raise your eyebrows.
This is what adults look like when they’re serious about something like harassing children. Tap dancing around and swinging your arms while laughing just confuses the audience.
What Could Cody Ko Have Done Better?
I feel like I shouldn’t be as hard on Cody Ko. The guy didn’t know he was going to have this confrontation and had to defend himself against a bunch of accusations with no warning.
But honestly he didn’t do all that well either. Jake Paul was truly drowning in this attempt to confront him and if Cody had tried a little harder he may have been able to completely turn the tables on him.
Reading your audience is always important. The comment the podcaster made at the beginning about how he’d ‘kick Jake’s ass’ if he ‘tried anything’ is a hint that he wasn’t truly happy with the situation.
I don’t know how it was all set up but it feels a bit like Jake was forcing the issue. This is a hint that they are not just there to back up their friend and may listen to reason if you play your cards right.
In my opinion the most important thing Cody could have done was to reframe the argument. This would have been especially easy to do given how scattered Jake was.
Cody did demand examples when Jake accused him of cyber bullying kids and that was a good start. But he did so with the wrong posture. When being accused of something that most people find objectionable it’s important to show signs of concern.
Most people’s instincts tell them to laugh and shrug and treat the whole thing as a joke. But showing concern will send a much better message to the audience. Raise your eyebrows and make a stern face like a costumer service representative that is ‘so sorry that you’ve had this experience.’
He could have said something like: “Oh no! Did I? When was this?” This is better not only because it will sound better to the audience but because it is possible that you’ve said something that was taken the wrong way.
If Jake could actually substantiate his claims the right thing to do (both ethically and for rhetorical reasons) is to show concern, apologize for how it sounded and explain how you meant for it to be taken.
If you’re dealing with a normal person that might end the whole conflict right there. My sense is that with Jake Paul there would be no reasoning with him and you’d need to show his friends that he’s losing it so that they’ll convince him to leave.
Once you’ve reached a snag in the original argument it’s time to reframe it. In this case you’d want to take the argument away from Jake’s fake child harassment claims and get at the real issue.
Jake has hurt feelings.
Now there is a good way and a bad way to tell someone they’re being emotional. Teasing him would not work in this case. But you can subtly move from the accusations to Jake’s emotions without seeming like the kind of dick you were just accused of being.
Cody could have said something like: “I get the feeling that all of this has more to do with some of the things I’ve said about you in the past.” From there negotiating what sorts of things ‘might upset’ Jake in the future will really bring it home to the audience. Jake has hurt feelings and having him list what sorts of things would hurt him will make that beyond obvious.
If at this point he tries to reframe the issue by saying something like he said about how ‘there are lines’ then stop everything and return the conversation to personal feelings.
Say something like: ‘Well listen different people have different lines, but this is about you and me because I don’t want you to think I’m out there trying to upset you. So you tell me what is too much for you.’
What Can We All Learn From This Ridiculous Display?
- Don’t rush into something you’re not emotionally prepared for. You’ll look like an idiot.
- Resist the urge to laugh off accusations that would be serious if they were true. Show concern and be open minded about the possibility of a misunderstanding or even simple forgetfulness. Sometimes you really did something shitty.
- Get physically comfortable. Sit down if you need to. If you’re really losing it apologize and pretend you have to go to the bathroom. Get your shit together or you’re going to look ridiculous.
- If the argument can’t be settle by compromise or open mindedness then you always need to reframe an accusation. Switch from your actions to the other person’s feelings or plans for future behavior. Not just to ‘win’ but because these are where the actual solutions are. You can’t change the past but you can work through feelings and make future plans.
- If someone is accusing you of something unfairly then chances are you need to talk about their emotions. As a rule if someone isn’t thinking clearly then they’re probably emotional.
- Don’t agree to do a podcast with the sort of sleazy douche who’d set you up to get ambushed by someone with clear emotional issues. I think Jake paid the guy. Jesus Christ, Youtube.