I consider myself as a fairly liberal person. I understand that we live in a society that is centered around the Internet and with this, we have developed a new love and necessity to put our lives on social media to keep others up-to-date with daily events but also entertained. I am also aware that my generation (I am a 90s baby) and the generation after have become completely obsessed with creating this fake persona that says “hey world, look at me”. And I recognise, that in this day and age, the Internet is an incredibly powerful tool – I admit, it is amazing but in all honesty, we (and I say ‘we’ loosely) are killing it slowly.
I feel that by writing about this topic I am effectively treading on dangerous territory but to put in bluntly, I simply do not care. Recently, everyone seems to be fixated with notion that posting negative videos and images on the Internet is customary,if you want views and retweets. Now hold up, I am not an old granny or some next conservative individual here to lecture you about using the Internet safely, however, I am sure that someone out there will read this article and take something away from this and actively make a positive difference. If I could plant some good in this world, then I’ll be happy.
The need to post videos and images to get views and retweets is slightly addicting especially when there are popular social apps such as Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr and Twitter, that are specifically designed to help you document your life to the world. Doing so can get you recognised and suddenly people are liking your Instagram photos, or you are getting invited for interviews, or Ellen desperately wants you on her show like Damn Daniel.
Those ‘fifteen minutes of fame’ moments is what drives people to do the things they do. Still, what I do not understand is that because people are so eager to get those views and retweets, they are prepared to capture someone else’s pain instead of actually intervening and helping them. I mean, how exactly do you think that is going to positively affect your life? More importantly, those who watch and share these videos and images on the Internet are personally just as bad. What do you gain from sharing negative content? Seriously, would you be able to tell me the name of the person who uploaded the last viral video you saw of someone getting beaten up or bullied? Would you be able to tell that account that leaked that girl’s nude? Could you tell me anything about this person? Most likely, no because these sort of videos and images are only relevant for about 24hours but those in the video, the ones getting beaten up or bullied or have been mocked because of their appearance, are usually hugely effected months, sometimes even years later.
Take the incident of Alika Agidi-Jeffs for example. The Londoner became the unknowing star of a video back in 2012, when he was filmed singing along to Drake and Rihanna’s “Take Care” while travelling on the London Underground. Millions of people were entertained by the video but no one knew he was suffering from “severe depression, manic episodes, and suicidal thoughts”.
He commented to Buzzfeed, “singing became my escape…a cry for help. Whenever I see something on Facebook nowadays [and] it’s going to be like someone who is hurting themselves or basically someone who is being made a fool out of, I deliberately avoid them.”
Another similar case is the meme of Wentworth Miller that was circulating the Internet, mocking his weight gain; all the while without knowing he was suicidal.
People are confusing viral videos and images with simply being inhumane and yes, for those who usually use Twitter, I am referring to the Rest In Peace Amy hashtag that was circulating in April and the Tayja Jones-Banks prom photo back in May.
Now, I know this is not the first case where someone has been filmed whilst getting beating up but after this incident, I really thought people would have come to their senses and stopped recording and posting these contents for likes. When I saw the comments ridiculing Tayja, my heart sank. It sounds dramatic but it is genuinely upsetting when a pig-headed minority goes after someone for the way they look. I know World Star Hip Hop is not the only account that are responsible for encouraging these sort of actions but if you feed into this destructive mindset that instead of helping someone in need you pull out your phone to record them, this world will fall apart.
People watching these horrific videos and hurtful images and sharing them to get views fuel this sort of culture. If you continue to share videos and pictures of people getting beaten up or teased, people will continue to capture this which can also be viewed as abusive. These videos encourages these Internet bullies to celebrate their success and record more nasty stuff. On Facebook and on YouTube you can see how many times a video has been viewed and this contributes to the ‘success’ of the video. If you feed into negativity, you are just as bad as those who post it. Do you see where I am coming from?
On the flip side, people sometimes share videos to bring awareness to an issue. Just make sure your intentions are pure next time you share something that could be perceived as negative online.