There's been a trend recently. If you're a yoyo player, I'm sure, you noticed.
This is accompanied by somewhat bittersweet feelings in the community, as I see it.
- On one hand, some people like how popular these videos are, which is nice to see for yoyo related content.
- On the other hand, some don't like it as much, to put it lightly, and consider it to be misrepresentation of yoyoing and our community. One friend noted that it makes as look like a bunch of clowns.
I can certainly empathize with both sides. It's nice to see yoyo related content getting traction, that's always been difficult to achieve. But to be honest, I cringe when I see a video like this. It really feels like this is not us, this is not how yoyo community looks like and this is not why we play yoyo at all.
But in the end, I don't mind it all that much. I think it's important to acknowledge that we are not the target audience. It's for people who are at the beginning of their yoyo journey.
What bugs me more is this general trend in yoyo community representation. I think we focus too much on shallow content and neglect deeper content. DNA videos are basically as shallow as it can get. This kind of content has its place - it attract newcomers and people who are just starting out. This is important, because it's difficult to digest something deeper at that point.
But this is not what people stay for long term. There's very little substance and burns out quickly. We need something more to keep people engaged for longer time. Try to think about why do you even play yoyo. It's probably difficult to even verbalize, It's nuanced and complex. It very likely isn't something like " speed combos are cool" or "tornado bind looks like a DNA".
I was there, too
When I started yoyoing, I was fascinated by speed combos and Mickey's freestyles. After few years, I no longer found them interesting. I realized that speed combos are basically just beginner tricks done fast and there's nothing very interesting about them.
Once you understand yoyoing better technically, other things start to stand out - subtle magic drops, slack catches that land where you don't expect them to, various "fake" moves you think you understand, but don't....
In the end, this is the kind of stuff that we stay for - even though we were attracted by something much simpler in the beginning.
In other fields
This is natural in many other fields. Consider music - you don't start listening to nichest and weirdest creators in a genre right away - you start by what's popular and approachable. Many podcasts have a clip channel on YouTube, where they post easily digestible cuts from the show. This is a gateway to a deeper, less accessible content that is the main podcast.
Another example (my favourite) is math. You can find a ton of math content on YouTube, from basic explanations for elementary school students to 3blue1brown or Mathologer, who regularly post 30 minutes videos of pretty advanced stuff.
Here you can see where we fail as a yoyo community a bit. We have very little deep content but huge amount of shallow content. We have a ton of tutorials, fun videos, DNA and Godspeed shorts, but almost nothing for people like me - as an experienced yoyo player, there's almost nothing interesting I can go consume - apart from watching trickcircles on Instagram.
Here are some good examples that go a bit deeper into yoyoing
There is very good video about Hajime's Soloham-only freestyle, very well edited and genuinely interesting for me. This is the content I'm talking about, but I think it's only scratching the surface of what's possible.
Scales is also good, but focusing more on competitive side of yoyoing.
Personal channels. Ann Connolly's YouTube channel is cool, Evan Nagao's channel has some videos I enjoyed, YoyoJoe learning Soloham was also fun. These channels are more about the personal side of yoyoing - they are interesting because Ann and Evan talk about their experiences. It's deeper on social side rather than yoyoing alone.
Trick circles on Instagram - this is where you get the deepest yoyo stuff we have, in my opinion. Definitely the most interesting for me. All the innovation, subtlety and stuff only yoyo players understand is here. I highly recommend following #trickcircle and then follow specific players you find there.
Nevertheless, most things I mentioned are still on the shallow end of the spectrum for now. I don't think we have 3Blue1Brown or Mathologer equivalent, yet. Our deeper stuff is trickcircles on instagram, yoyo videos and freestyle videos on YouTube and Scales, to some extent. We particularly don't have anything that would go deeper into the technical side of yoyoing. Our equivalent of going deeper is just actually yoyoing, competing and sharing ideas in person.
I think we can generalize this, and think more than just content on social networks. We traditionally focused on competitive yoyoing, but this only attract very small part of the community. Most people are interested in different aspects of yoyoing, and we basically leave them on their own at that point. If you don't live close to some yoyo community, it's pretty difficult to exchange ideas on deeper level than just posting trick videos.
To conclude - I don't have strong feelings about these new yoyo trends. Yes, they're shallow, and yes, I cringe when I see them, but I think they have their place and don't do much harm - it's shallow, people forget. I'd be glad if we didn't focus too much on this and put more energy into doing something deeper, with lasting impact, for people who are truly interested.
Deep content is what keeps people meaningfully engaged for a long time, there's more investment and bigger gain, but fewer people who can consume it. Shallow, approachable content tends to attract bigger pool of people, but has less substance, it's good for showing the topic, not for exploring its true essence.
PS: Also - give me a favor and don't beef about it on social networks. Beefs are not cool, especially online. I know, because I wasted way too much time in yoyo drama before. It usually doesn't solve any problem, hurts relationships and makes involved people bitter. It's a fricking toy, don't take it too seriously.