This is just a quick-and-dirty thought I had while browsing the roundup thread tonight, and I figured I'd just dash it out here since I want to post something else in the big thread and not clutter it up.
Part of what spurred this was a recent video by Rimmy Downunder, who you might recognize as the Australian guy who uploads a lot of edited videos about Arma 3 and other kinds of simulationist-type games. It's an hour-long video, so to quickly summarize: if you are a big creator on YouTube, you should never ask Team YouTube for help on Twitter whenever one of your videos gets demonetized or age-restricted, because in the name of consistency, they will just go through your channel and do the same thing to all of your videos, making your algorithm performance and monetization drop even further. Contained within this video is discussion of new rules for advertiser-friendliness--specifically, the guidelines around profanity and the severity, frequency, and latency with which it is uttered in a video--changes that weren't exactly announced by YouTube, along with new policies for how YouTube reviews creators' appeals against the dings they get.
This post isn't about recent drama on a social media platform so big that it should really be regulated as a common carrier, or even about the constant frustration with inconsistent enforcement of rules, but instead, it's about the degree to which our modern society seems to be drilling down on making things all sanitized and offense-free.
Just to talk about YouTube a little more, I've been aware for a while that the entire design of YouTube--what is allowed, what is punished, and what is incentivized, whether that be through the algorithm or the automated content-policing systems they almost certainly have deployed--is set up to push creators into making the absolute safest content possible. I don't feel like digging up all the videos that talk about this phenomenon, but as an example: if you want to maximize your potential ad revenue on YouTube as a gaming channel, you need to play kid-friendly games (like Minecraft and Fortnite), say absolutely no swear words (at most, you might get away with TV-friendly minced oaths), and basically treat any copyrighted material (or even anything that could plausibly get claimed by some anonymous third party) like the plague. Add on sponsorships and upsells of patronage sites, and it makes for content you or I might consider...banal.
But again, this is about the direction we're all being pushed in. I could ramble here about how excellence and hard work aren't rewarded on a particular website, but this goes beyond YouTube and all social media platforms. Why is it that we've moved from a culture that was permissive with expression (to put it a certain way) to one where something even slightly outre is left to wither on the vine? (Okay, sure, you can find weird and shocking modern art, but probably a lot of said modern art is made to help sell people on the idea of Marxism or whatever, as opposed to something like Dilbert 3 [NSFW] which presumably isn't trying to push any message and just exists, well, because.)
Likely, you're already aware of how the modern Culture War has had its effects on pop culture and media, where any work that gets advertised on TV or pushed to the front shelves of your local bookstore or recommended online often has to fit in with modern sensibilities, so I won't rehash the history of that here. Creators often subscribe to various versions and formulations of progressive ideals, people will judge past works through the lens of today, and what was perfectly acceptable within the tits-n'-beer liberalism milieu of old is often scrutinized today.
There's also the other cultural aspects of this coddling/infantilization/whatever-you-want-to-call-it memeplex. Many Americans are becoming more and more like the hikikomori of Japan, one of the less-inflammatory ways of describing the current state of the battle of the sexes is that the male gender role has been razed and not rebuilt (this was the post that spurred this one, but this topic has come up before), and we may have accidentally re-invented segregation because it's easier to not interact with those outside our specific demographics rather than trying to interact with them and risk reputational homicide.
So, the question I have is: where did all this come from, and why? Is it what some call "safetyism," the impulse to prevent harm at all costs and take no risks whatsoever? Relatedly, is it because legal liability is treated as a mortal risk, because lawsuits can be a punishment in themselves? Is it because of the unkillable zombie Boomers who, even in their old age, and with all of the pains they've suffered in their long lives, keenly remember the trauma of troubled childhoods the most, and have used their power as the current generation of power-holders to make sure that no child ever grows up feeling hardship?* Is it some combination of all three things, where nobody really complains about the effect it has on the broader culture so long as some politician's (grand)kids are doing okay?
I'm not necessarily advocating for edginess for edginess' sake (though I think that could have value), but I think American society has somehow forgotten how to masterfully blend novelty, maturity, and creativity, and right now, it seems like the only people who take risks are the same people who can't handle them (or, at least, they tend to make a poor showing once they start doing whatever it is they do).
*Granted, some of the people responsible might be Gen Xers instead, such as YT's current CEO and possibly their content moderation team, too.