PBS Idea Channel is a Great YouTube Channel That Everyone Should Watch


“The unexamined life is not worth living,”

wrote Plato, and PBS Idea Channel hosted by Mike Rugnetta lives out that message.

What Plato meant by his statement is that for life to be worth anything, one must reflect upon it; for a person to live well, they must delve into themselves and determine whether what they are doing is good. Rugnetta sets out to accomplish this Herculean undertaking by mixing high-falutin philosophy and social thought with the seemingly benign. Rugnetta and his handy-dandy mental archive of modern social commentary deconstructs and spells out the deeper meaning of the minutiae of modern culture: whether it’s how upvoting on Reddit exemplifying the failures of democracy or how the Sims show that gender is performed, .

Whether you agree or disagree with Rugnetta’s ideas and interpretations, watchers and subscribers can’t fault his brilliant and generous use of gifs throughout his video, living out his spoken word. Every week he churns out a well-crafted and seamless piece of social commentary, attracting over 600,000 subscribers. Anyone who engages with the internet- and Netflix-centered culture of today can follow along and watch Rugnetta bob-and-weave through the ins-and-outs of the deeper meaning of the satirical show Too Many Cooks or the anxieties of iMessaging.

Rugnetta seems to know every aspect of modern culture and every aspect of modern philosophy; he truly has an astonishing amount of intellectual know-how combined with great bourgeois analytical skills.

Besides bringing down to earth the high-class dialectics of modern social thought, he is receptive and elaborative about how he works and seems more than willing to respond with his viewers. He even held an “office hours” style meetup at his studio in New York recently, attracting many visitors who wished to see the pale, bearded man and talk-shop about Idea Channel and modern culture. Every week he spends five minutes retorting the various strains of thought running through the comment section of his last video.

Five minutes may not sound like much, but he speaks in the style of a Vlogbrother like John or Hank Green: very fast, very caffeinated, and to the point. His knack for lip-flapping makes the 12-minute long videos jam packed with much more information than they appear to.

Even if the watcher doesn’t know the minutiae of Rugnetta’s weekly content, he has a gift for quick explanation and terse summation, which is helpful for unloading the social rumination brought in for the week. Subscribers can chide Rugnetta as too partial to the postmodern vocabulary of social thinkers, but he does a good job anyway of bringing the good bits of it to the relatively well-educated internet populace.

Here’s an idea: overall, PBS Idea Channel is an invaluable place to see the cerebral philosophy of a university come down and from its ivory tower and walk amongst normal people, and help them reflect their cultural life. In short, its helps people have examined lives.