Thursday, 21st February 2013
YOUTUBE AND YOU – YouTube has been a popular source of information and entertainment and for millions of viewers, but without a pre-screening process videos containing violence, questionable content or sexually explicit material occasionally are posted and seen by thousands of viewers before they are flagged and eventually pulled. This is the direct result of the “instant gratification” that has made YouTube such a success and causes me to wonder how it is influencing our standards and changing us as a society.
Videos have been removed by the site on numerous occasions with most recently a video taken in the U.S. of a young man whom had been stripped and then beaten in broad daylight while a crowd gathered to watch. Not one person called 9-1-1 emergencies during or after the attack and the video had over 40,000 views before it was removed. Was it fear that paralyzed the bystanders? What of the thousands of viewers and why would such a disurbing and humiliating video become an attraction?
In all fairness, I have to question the motivation behind the multitudes posting videos. With a search engine that responds to categories like “stupid stunts,” “death jumps,” ”bitch slapping” and “cruel pranks” is it any wonder that we are becoming desensitized and that hurtful behavior is becoming more acceptable and even funny? Plug in any phrase that comes to mind and YouTube will have a video to satisfy your curiosity.
Take a serious look at the material posted and you will be shocked at how many of them are not “bloopers” but are intentionally acted and filmed stunts that are dangerous and potentially life threatening. Insane car chases, animal wrestling, and competitions have turned us into thrill seeking zombies who move quickly from one video to the next, looking for each to top the the last.
The “actors” are looking for their 2 minutes of fame and to have a video posted on YouTube allows them the opportunity to feel special and important, no matter how degrading the video. The adrenaline high that is acheived as the count for number of views rises causes new and more outrageous sequels to be captured and set live. Too many have put their lives at risk and suffered irreparable harm in creating the perfect video.
Yes, there are many newsworthy and heartwarming videos on YouTube; the kind that you wouldn’t mind sharing wiith your children or grandparents. There are also many videos feeding that part of ourselves that we like to pretend doesn’t exist. The part that makes fun of others in our minds but doesn’t speak it out loud, that is cruel and sarcastic even to individuals we know cannot help their situation.
Why do we do it and where do we draw the line to distinguish between clean fun and hurtful behavior? It is an area that each of us must make for ourselves and the line is different for everyone depending on our life experiences. Does anyone have the right to tell you what is funny or acceptable and what is not? What about when it comes to portrayals of political or religious leaders, moral issues or behavior? Some countries think they can. For instance:
The Thai government has banned and lifted those bans multiple times on YouTube over what the governing body interprets as insulting videos of King Bhumibol Adulvadej and his government officials.
In Egypt, a judge ordered a block on access to YouTube for 30 days because of an anti-Islamic film that sparked anger across the Muslim world and incited widespread riots. The same video has caused Pakistan to totally ban YouTube from its country, while China, Syria, Iran, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan have standing bans citing national security as their reason.
Additionally the U.K., France, Germany, Bangladesh, Armenia, Indonesia, Morocco, Libya and the U.S. have had material removed or placed temporary bans on the site due to inappropriate material.
Some of these bans come from oppressive governments that use all means available to control the flow of information coming into their country, while others are looking to protect the rights of the citizens or to remove hate-speech.
While we may not agree with the decisions these countries have made, they do have a point: Not everything should be shared.
Statements made by YouTube claim that with the sheer number of videos posted, they cannot monitor them all and therefore rely heavily upon visitors of the site to be “watch dogs” and alert them to offensive, objectionable or questionable videos for review. Please do your part and report material that should be removed and help keep the site safe for anyone to use.