The vicious cycle of publishing viral videos

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



Sara in the Bathroom makes a splash online

Budding Concordian YouTubers discuss self-expression and comedic therapy

With ambitions as great as their sense of humour, an impulsive jump into a web series seemed to be an excellent decision for Sara Jardak and Elie Joe. These two are the forces behind the Montreal-based YouTube channel Sara In The Bathroom, and while it’s just in the early stages, it’s safe to say that great things are on their way.

Jardak, who is a second-year communications student at Concordia, wanted to start a blog as a means of self-expression. Joe, who was well aware of Jardak’s fear of public speaking, saw an opportunity for something more. As a former student at the Mel Hoppenhiem School of Cinema, he pushed Jardak to tackle two birds with one stone.

“I kind of bullied her because at first she didn’t want to do it,” he joked. “She was shy.”

Jardak was hesitant to begin, but warmed to the idea with convincing. “I’m really anxious when I have to speak in front of a crowd, so he told me to practice in front of a camera,” she said.

And that is exactly what they did. One night, Jardak and Joe set up a camera in the bathroom. She sat in the bathtub wearing a princess dress, and spoke about what she dubbed a “mid-twenties crisis”: the ever-relatable feeling that you’re life isn’t quite moving in the direction that it should.

Why the bathroom? “My aunt was sleeping at my house that night and we didn’t want to wake her up so we decided to shoot in the bathroom. From then on, we were Sara in the Bathroom,” Joe explained.

The creative process for the team is typically a story written by Jardak that’s “inspired by something true,” which Joe then turns into a screenplay while adding comedic elements. “He makes a parody of it,” says Jardak.

Don’t be mistaken though. Jardak can certainly hold her own with the comedy.

“Sara is really funny,” Joe clarified. “We’re a good team.”

Photo by Keith Race.

This contributes to the episodic nature of Sara In The Bathroom. As each video is inspired by a one-off experience, the characters tend to differ depending on the subject matter. This allows them to play around a bit more and experiment with comedic styles.

Joe, a self-professed “comic whore,” says his favourite comedian changes on a weekly basis. This constant exposure to new styles influences his writing as he develops his voice. “We’re inspired by everything around us,” he says.

Jardak’s influence stems from a variety of comedians including Mindy Kaling and Seth Rogen, just to name a few. When it comes to her favourite YouTubers, her preferences are towards skit-based vloggers with a style very similar to her own, such as Lilly Singh, most commonly known by her handle IISuperwomanII.

A channel that deserves special mention is Broad City, starring Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer. “It’s my favourite show right now,” said Jardak. “It’s really inspiring too. They were a web series and now they’re [becoming] more official.” The show, which began on YouTube in 2009, was picked up by Comedy Central in 2014 and is entering it’s second season, with Amy Poehler as one of the executive producers. “It’s path I’d like to take,” she continued.

This is just a taste of the aspirations of Jardak and Joe. The two are constantly writing and hope to become more consistent with video uploads as their channel grows. Fan engagement, such as comments and likes, mean a lot to them. They see that as indicator of success and believe that it can lead to a growth in subscribers as they produce more content. However, that certainly does not mean they’re only in it for the fame.

“It’s like therapy,” explained Joe. “You just say everything you have to say and then it’s [no longer] a big deal,” continued Jardak.  “People are going through the same thing, they’re going to be compassionate, they’re going to give you advice and it really helps.”

Though public speaking is still a cause of anxiety for her, she insists that “practicing in front of a camera helps a lot.”

Joe sees YouTube as a creative outlet without any restrictions and unlimited reach. “You don’t have to go through the hassle of sending your script to production, waiting on them, [having them] say no. You can put it out there,” he said. “We’re free to do whatever we want to do. … Even if you’re solo in your house, you can reach millions of people,” he continued.

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