The Monsters Who Laugh at Injury and Death on YouTube

The monsters are everywhere — self-righteous sickos who laugh at other people’s misfortunes — the same kind of diseased personalities who slow down in traffic to take photos of horrific accidents and urge distressed persons on the edges of buildings to jump to their deaths.

And they’re online as well. Oh man, are they online. Worst of all perhaps, they’re extremely well represented among the tech community where I’ve spent my entire career, such as it’s been.

Perhaps this helps to explain why so many techies are so disdainful of non-techies, why so many software designers call the people using their systems by the pejorative “losers” rather than users or customers.

It certainly provides some insight into why many non-technical persons view our technical fields with so much disdain and distrust.

Lately I’ve been writing a lot about people being harmed — in some cases killed — by social media fads — e.g., in “YouTube’s Dangerous and Sickening Cesspool of ‘Prank’ and ‘Dare’ Videos” — — and other posts.

Inevitably, when I note the vast array of videos on YouTube, Facebook, and other sites that show individuals being burned, shocked, poisoned, crushed, or otherwise injured and sometimes killed in the name of challenges, dares, and dangerous pranks, there are always the Trumpian “wits” who chuckle in the comments about “Darwin Awards” and stupid people, and how this helps to improve the gene pool, and golly Lauren aren’t we clever to think up a comment like this?

I point out that the tragedies from ingesting toxic substances or playing with guns — or the array of other horrific pranks and dares that are easily found on these video platforms pulling in vast numbers of views — often involve suckering in for “social media fame” real people with actual families and loved ones, and frequently young people including sometimes very young children.

“Oh well, I’m not including children of course,” tends to come the belated reply — though it’s obvious that in reality their actual degree of caring about their fellow human beings is somewhere south of absolute zero.

I’ve discussed elsewhere my concerns regarding how YouTube fails to properly enforce their own published Terms of Service when it comes to hate speech and the sorts of videos I described above.

Google has recently announced a series of efforts relating to these and associated content areas, including significantly more humans in the abuse reporting loops — something I have long advocated as a crucial adjunct to the automated systems that by necessity must be the first line of defense for the vast firehose of video pouring into YouTube 24/7 from around the world.

As one of YouTube’s biggest fans — I make no bones about this fact! — I very much want to see Google succeed in these efforts. Frankly, I personally have doubts that they’re moving fast enough to avoid the increasing specter of politically motivated, heavy-handed government regulations that threaten the entire video ecosystem. But certainly Google’s trajectory in this regard is now positive.

In fact, my faith in Googlers is such that I’m certain that they can solve these problems if enough resources are devoted to them — provided that scheming politicians and their minions don’t get in the way.

I wish I could offer the same degree of confidence regarding human beings in general. Whenever I see them laughing and making their malignant comments regarding people injured or killed in online videos, I’m torn between vomiting and fantasizing of a means to send a brief pulse of high voltage back to these commenters’ keyboards over the Net.

Fortunately, we do have the ability to deal with the array of technological policy issues that seem so vexing, if we choose to seriously do so.

Unfortunately, human nature itself has barely advanced at all since the caves, and our powerful technologies tend to enable not only the best of humanity, but disproportionately even more so the very worst.

Be seeing you.


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