How Long Can You Stand Being the Subject of a Viral Video?


When I A kid, one of my plans was to be in some kind of candid video show. I was vaguely aware that “Hidden Camera” was a phenomenon of my family, or possibly my grandparents’ generation, but I fantasized about “America’s Funniest Home Videos” or even a spot in the local news. This look would capture my reckless charm as well as make me famous. As an unusually self-conscious kid – someone who uses the word “misfit” a lot, if that gives you an idea of ​​the problem – I hoped that a candid video could show me who I really am: cute, quick-thinking, maybe some undiscovered athletic ability that has been compromised. The best part of this plan was that I could do nothing to advance it; By definition, I had to wait for the camera to discover me. I knew the odds of something like this happening were astronomical. In the 1990s, people weren’t just gathering and making videos of kids on the street.

In the 2020s, these conditions are no longer met. Thanks to smartphones and social media, people are constantly shooting videos of each other, accidentally and on purpose. Intimate video has ceased to be a micro-genre of television and has become a historical force. All news loops open it. In some cases it has the power to start riots and end careers, but mostly it has the power to piss everyone off. Just as the invention of the mobile phone created the loud call in a restaurant, the smartphone made public videography a mild but pervasive nuisance. We’re still the protagonists of our own lives, but we also risk becoming supporting characters in other people’s Instagram stories. And this change has happened to all of us, whether we want it or not.

Our pesky posts about how much kids love phones tend to ignore who gave them the phones in the first place.

i saw it recently eight second video those who catch this problem in its most extreme form. As a high school boy and girl enter the Panda Express, a third youth with blond hair stops them at the door. With him, the crook or man on the street brings the energy of the interview host, and the couple is temporarily frozen, caught between suspicion and kindness. It’s a space where things can go both ways. The blonde boy says to the girl, “Hey, wait, sorry – I’m going to ask you something really important.” “The moment I saw you, my eyes were just – oh my God, I love you, could please – bleach!” “Crying” is the sound it makes when the other kid punches it in the face.

The various elements of this video are, well, stunning. The punch boy wears a jumpsuit and a yellow-striped shirt that eerily evokes one of the gang costumes from “The Warriors.” He looks like a south claw and looks like he’s already thrown a punch. But perhaps most notable is the apparent moment of resignation that the blond boy shared with his girlfriend when they realized what he had done. When “in my eyes” he turns around and walks in, the Jumpsuits Kid calmly lays down his smoothie to put his interlocutor in his mouth. The sound of the crash is meaty. The video ends with the two of them stumbling out of the frame, the Blond Kid getting shaken and the Jumpsuits Kid hugging for another blow. It’s a productively cut action that rewards repeat views, but it leaves me with one question: How do we feel about this punch?

We agree that a punch wouldn’t be legitimate if the Blond Kid had sincerely expressed his love. But he is not. An unidentified fourth party is declaring his love as he records the whole thing, possibly as part of a “hit another man’s girlfriend” internet fight. In this context, he is using other people as support, a bad behavior that society should deter. But what are we willing to turn a blind eye to to discourage him? Our collective culture has begun to decide how we feel about such activities that new technology has invented and that will become more common in the future.

As a middle-aged man, I think such technology belongs to children, but it is not. Smartphones, YouTube, TikTok, and the like were released by adults and then infect a generation that had little choice in the matter. The internet video belongs to Zoomers just as heroin belongs to addicts. From this perspective, Jumpsuit Child is part of a history of violent resistance to foreign influences that Americans will recognize in everything from the Boston Tea Party to Al Qaeda to the Ewoks.

We’re still the protagonists of our own lives, but we also risk becoming supporting characters in other people’s Instagram stories.

Our pesky posts about how much kids love phones tend to ignore who gave them the phones in the first place. We’re like parents who leave the liquor cabinet open and are shocked to come home and smell their child’s breath—perhaps more like 18th-century Britons shipping opium to China, the only difference being that we’re making money. We don’t force Zoomers to spend their childhood watching and shooting videos; We just give them the opportunity. Some kids will resist, but most will seize the opportunity, and those who do will make a little more money for Google, for Apple, for TikTok – all remote companies hired to do business with digital natives in their new world. This is a world we call barbarian, even as we devote more and more resources to colonization.

Overalls Kid saw his people (young people with disposable incomes) invaded by an alien culture (adult tech workers) who exploit them for economic gain. And the only remedy against this exploitation is violence. Maybe she also spends her free time making prank videos, but I think she’s desperately trying to live a normal teenage life: dressing weird, having a girlfriend, going to the Panda Express even though they’ve had smoothies before because she wants to spend it. as much time as possible to look at it. You know – child work. And then this blonde boy with his cameraman comes along and they start treating his girlfriend as if she’s just another girlfriend with another guy – as the internet has taught them to do – and the blonde boy even does that – Edvard Munch’s facial expression you only see in videos and all that is too much. Jumpsuit Child presses the off button on it.

Ironically, this act of protest against the colonization of his childhood is going viral on the internet. His refusal to be a character in a video solidifies his identity as a character in a video, gaining millions of views. Because you can’t escape it – adults are far more powerful, with billions of dollars and an army of people whose full-time job is to find new things for kids to do with their phones, NS until phones are purely kids culture. Smile! You’re in front of a hidden camera for the rest of your life.

Dan Brooks writes essays, fiction, and commentary from Montana and abroad. wrote last An article about the “Garfield” varieties.


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