Likes Over Life

The obession with going viral has become trendy, but is it worth it?

Hayley Adams, Staff Writer

10 years ago, when you asked an elementary classroom what they wanted to be when they grew up, you’d hear answers like Doctor, Police officer, football player, and other classic dream careers. Today however, you may be surprised at the number of kids saying they want to be YouTubers or other social media influencers. This is due to the recent rise of social media stardom. Children and teens look at their favorite digital stars and aspire to be like them. However, this desire to become internet famous can often go too far, and become dangerous.

19-year-old Monalisa Perez’s life was turned upside down on March 14th when she was charged with Second Degree Manslaughter, a crime punishable by up to a decade in jail. She shot and killed her boyfriend, Pedro Ruiz, when he told her to; even though he didn’t want to, (or plan on) dying. She shot her boyfriend, who was holding a book in front of him, thinking it would stop the bullet, in an attempt to get views on their YouTube channel. This death was due to the increasing desire of internet fame, but why? When did likes become more important than lives?

Every day, according to YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, thousands hours of content are uploaded to the world’s larg- est video streaming app, YouTube. With so much content on the platform, this gives wannabe viral stars a lot of competition to go viral, and the stakes are getting higher.

Prominent social media stars performing dangerous staged stunts in their videos and getting millions of views doesn’t help the crisis. Take YouTuber Brothers Jake and Logan Paul for example, who posts shocking videos of himself pulling dangerous “pranks” with a group of friends.

Earlier this year, Logan Paul came under fire for a controversial series of vlogs taking place in Japan. In the vlogs, Paul is seen disrespecting Japanese culture by mocking the language, destruction of property, and overall being a loud disrespectful nuisance to the public. The series finale was a video where Paul entered Aokigahara, also known as “The Suicide Forest.” This forest is famous location for many Japanese people to commit suicide. Paul entered the forest with a group of friends and a tour guide, who they ditched to explore the forest on their own, when they came across a body hanging. Rather than cut the camera, Paul decided to record the body close up and post it to his millions of followers.

In the video, Paul even stated that the video should get a lot of views because, “No Youtuber has ever done this!” Obviously, many were not happy with Logan. In response, Paul issued a formal apology and took a short break from YouTube. However when he returned, he was as ignorant as usual, almost like he had learned nothing from the forest incident.

Jake Paul also doesn’t have a great public reputation. In mid 2017, a news story by KTLA about Pauls daily shenanigans in his Los Angeles neighborhood revealed a side of the story not often seen, his neighbors. “The neighbors hate me… I don’t really know why” Jake told to KTLA journalist Chris Wolfe as he climbed onto the KTLA news van after explicitly being told not to. Some neighbors confirmed that living next to the Pauls is like living next to a circus, in which Jake responded with, “I mean but like people like going to circuses, right?”

When interviewed by Good Morning America, Jake Paul stated that his prominent age demographic is between the ages of 8, and 16 years old. These are young

children and gullible high school students, who see titles such as “SHARK ATTACK PRANK ON WIFE; SHE FREAKED OUT” getting over 15 million views. This could easily result in children becoming inspired to attempt dangerous stunts for views.

The craze of going viral is appear- ing in schools all over America, with the new trend “school vlogging”. These are students who record segments of their day and piece them together to make a vlog and upload it to YouTube. This trend was popularized by school vloggers with large following, such as Emma Chamberlain and Kai Foster. Many schools have strict “no vlogging” rules to prevent distracted students however, at North there is no specific policy against school vlogging.

Most hear the headline “Woman Shot Boyfriend in Attempt to get Views on YouTube” and think to themselves, “How stupid are people nowadays?” and move on. This however, isn’t an entirely appropriate reaction. Modern society clouded the heads of Perez and her boyfriend, making views their number one priority and keeping them from caring about the consequences. They fell victim to the mindset of wannabe viral stars.

In order to prevent injuries and deaths caused by the obsession of going viral large creators, like Jake Paul, need to be more responsible when it comes to being a role model to their young and impressionable audiences. This can start by simply putting disclaimers in videos such as “Do not attempt at home.”

At the end of day, its both the viewer and the creators of popular content who are responsible. Viewers have to realize that they shouldn’t attempt dangerous stunt for views and creators should disclaim that viewers don’t try dangerous stunts at home.