I am living a parent’s worst nightmare. My beautiful son is lost, and it happened right under my nose. The perpetrator? YouTube. The weapon of choice? Their recommendation algorithm. The story is unfortunately familiar to all of us by now; a directionless young man comes to YouTube in search of entertainment and, perhaps, a community. But instead he is seduced and brainwashed by a faction of fringe extremists that propagate a dangerous ideology. Magicians.

Through pirated live shows and disturbing online tutorials, YouTube has become a breeding ground for magicians targeting impressionable young men, and it stole my son from me. Let my life and the following be a warning to you all.

YouTube operates a business model that incentivizes inflammatory videos through the use of a suggestion engine that takes users, like my poor son, down an increasingly manipulative and pitiful path. Those inflammatory videos promoted by the algorithm time and again prove to contain menacing magic leaning content that has convinced all our sons to take up an empty life of card tricks, coin illusions, and even handkerchief based gimmicks. Many taken in by this community go as deep as endurance-based stunt magic popularized by provocateur David Blaine, while others simply veer into annoying bar magic.

Any path, regardless of magic type, has one result?—social isolation and perverse obsession with colorful vests.

During a dark period following his dropping out of college, my son found the magic trick montages served to him by YouTube’s “Up Next” feature comforting in a world that no longer made sense. Soon, he had no use for friends, believing in disinformation like magic is “cool” or “a desirable skill”. He quickly shifted his searches toward magic tutorials. My son now plans to spend years of his life developing ultimately worthless abilities no one cares about besides Las Vegas tourists. He wants to be a magician.

Yes, I realize that YouTube also has a tendency to radicalize youth towards extreme political views like the alt-right. But I can confidently say the greatest threat to our children living happy and fulfilling lives is not racism, it’s the meager trade of magic. Although racism is a close second. Despite this fact, I failed to identify the warning signs. It started simply enough. “Pick a card, any card,” he would say; not words a proud father wants to hear, but harmless enough. Next thing our family knew he grew abnormal facial hair and developed a preoccupation with large interlocking rings. Now, our son is attending magic conferences in hopes of meeting people with ridiculous names like Criss Angel or David Copperfield. His community was no longer virtual, further legitimizing the famously illegitimate lifestyle of lies that is magic. This is both hazardous and super lame. These deplorable magicians and YouTubers are preying on our children by giving our lonely sons a sense of belonging. The final cruel irony being that a life of magic leads to only more loneliness.

To learn how YouTube was able to exploit my right-minded son and make an illusionist, I took a deep dive into my son’s watch history. First, he was recommended relatively benign clips from Penn & Teller's Fool Us based on in his interest in other reality audition shows like The X Factor. Then it was the “10 Greatest Magic Tricks Ever Performed” that was suggested. Slightly more unsettling. Suddenly, it’s 2 AM, and he was watching a Yann Frisch clip commenting that Eric Chien’s sleight of hand is superior.

As I write these nonsensical words, I can’t believe they belong to my beautiful baby boy. He’s become brainwashed by the expertly suggested videos that slowly increase his tolerance for drivel like mental forcing, the prestige, and card flourishing. He fell down the rabbit hole, which to my surprise is not an exclusively magical term. In fact, there are all kinds of rabbit holes one can fall into on YouTube. Though none as perilous, nor as pathetic, as magic.

Now, he says he believes other hobbies like reading, crafts, or fitness are inherently inferior and lack flair. He forces his beliefs upon us, constantly practicing the same routines poorly. It’s sad, and more importantly, annoying. How is YouTube allowed to do this? An innocent young man is simply watching a supercut of all America’s Got Talent Golden Buzzers and YouTube suggests he should he should develop his very own patter and vaguely misogynistic acts. I call upon YouTube to take action against this radical content. Intervene before it’s too late and your son throws his life away by becoming a magician, like mine has.

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