How The Internet Has Turned Embarrassment Into A Viral Event
Everyone goes through life knowing that they are going to have those moments where they will be embarrassed by something that they say or do. We all go out of our way to avoid those situations, but it’s impossible to be perfect all the time, which means that moments of pure shame are going to happen, like it or not. For most of us that simply means have a couple of minutes of discomfort, usually accompanied by the laughter of the people around us, before normalcy returns and the situation is forgotten. If you take a moment to think back on the hundreds of embarrassing moments you may have had, chances are you will only be able to remember a couple of really bad ones, with the remainder simply fading into lost memories. The world is changing now, and it’s possible that those moments can be captured and shared by millions, never to be forgotten.
If you look around at any given time you are likely to see that the people around you have their faces stuck in smartphones or tablet PC’s, all of which have the capability of snapping pictures and taking videos. That has given rise to embarrassing moments being caught on tape that would normally have been forgotten a few minutes after they happened. It’s now not enough for people to simply save that little moment on time for their own pleasure, with many now deciding that such embarrassing behavior has to be shared with the world. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have now become awash with ‘fail’ videos and pictures that allow internet users the world over the have a giggle at someone else’s expense.
We may all look at that sort of file sharing as nothing more than a little bit of light fun, but for the person in the video it can become a nightmare. It’s bad enough when an embarrassing video gets passed around, but when it goes viral and ends up on TV shows, the shame that is put upon the person in the clip can become unbearable. It’s hard to think of ‘liking’ and sharing a funny video as a form of bullying, but when that video takes off and becomes huge, every one of us that took part in spreading it becomes part of a big bullying group.
All you have to do is look at the story of Ghyslain Raza, or the Star Wars kid as he is now better known, to see how a viral video can quickly get out of hand. The video features the young man performing some Jedi style moves holding a curtain rod that was meant to double as a light saber. The video was embarrassing enough, but the fact that Raza was overweight led to the comments left on the video being cruel to the point of hurtful. The video spawned hundreds and thousands of spoofs, with folks adding visual and sound effects to the piece to make it even more ridiculous. The end result was that Ghyslain ended up being bullied at school, before finally dropping out and admitted to a children’s psychiatric hospital. Years have passed since the video first hit the internet and the good news is that Mr. Raza has gone on to great things in his career, but you have to feel that others may not be so lucky.
The next time one of those videos rolls across your Facebook timeline, you really have to stop and ask yourself if it’s really something that you want to share. Does a couple of laughs at someone else’s expense really justify adding to the shame and hurt that they might be feeling? Once you pass that video on, the memory of it quickly vanishes as the next one shows up on your desktop. While you have moved on, the person that you laughed at is forced to deal with each and every share and ‘like,” to the point where they may very well end up in the same situation as Ghyslain Raza. Just imagine if someone in one of those videos felt bullied and shamed to the point of taking their own life. How would you feel then, knowing that you were a small part in their ultimate demise?