The vicious cycle of publishing viral videos

Graphic by Ana Bilokin

Are we the generation that uses social media to both humiliate and help vulnerable people?

It is no secret that we are all consumed by social media. It can be a very positive outlet as much as a very negative one—again, most of us know that. As a society, we either celebrate one another or take each other down using these platforms. It has become very common for people to be ridiculed over situations that could have gone unnoticed.

However, as a generation, we have a conditioned reflex to record every little thing so it can be viewed by the entire world. Okay, maybe not the entire world, but when we choose to upload something, we are accepting the fact that there’s a possibility it might go viral––whether or not that was our intention.

Not too long ago, a video on social media depicting a Dunkin’ Donuts employee dumping a bucket of water on a homeless man went viral. The man was resting his head while charging his phone in the restaurant. The incident was recorded and posted online for the world to see. That man wasn’t bothering anyone and, homeless or not, didn’t deserve such hostile treatment. On top of it, this awful moment was captured on video, to be watched countless times by innumerable strangers.

As a member of our generation, I can’t help but ask: Are we hypocritical? Here we are using social media to ridicule the less fortunate because it amuses us, yet we also promote GoFundMe accounts and share videos that show these same vulnerable people being cared for and shown compassion. Do you see the hypocrisy?

Fortunately, the Dunkin’ Donuts employee and a few other workers involved in the accident have since been fired, according to The New York Times, and a crowdfunding campaign has raised over $13,000 for the homeless man. Here lies my next question: Why do we do it? Are we so self-absorbed that we record our acts of kindness solely to reap the compliments later? If not, why do we ridicule homeless people for our own amusement?

Just a few months ago, another viral video showed a homeless man shaving on a New York City metro. People posted horrible comments about him, calling him a “slob” and an “animal,” according to Global News. The man did not realize he was being filmed and was shocked to learn that the video received more than 2.4 million views online. Would it have been too much for someone to tap him on the shoulder and kindly inform him about the norm of not shaving on public transportation, instead of recording him and ridiculing him on social media?

There is no doubt that many people reading this article will blame the issue on millennials. It is important to note that this generation is not the only generation at fault. The people who comment on videos are people of all ages and are in the wrong just as much as the people who film these humiliating moments. We start these bullying campaigns and stress the importance of spreading awareness around it, yet we are the first to perpetuate this vicious cycle with our smartphones. Let us prove society wrong by using our morals instead of our camera phones.

Graphic by Ana Bilokin


Related Posts