I’ll be the first to say that I think it’s wonderful that people can supplement their income by doing something they love on YouTube, or even make a career out of making videos. Good for them. But more recently I have become increasingly aware of the gimmicky, click-baity, do-anything-for-views people… and it has been concerning. It was concerning to me even before I learned about the antics of YouTube star Logan Paul.
I follow some people on YouTube, mostly people who review beauty products, because makeup is eye candy for me, even though I seldom use it. I didn’t know about Logan Paul’s existence, but watched a few short clips of his obnoxious videos after I heard he was in the news, and was already turned off before I knew the extent of his depravity.
He and some other of his gooney friends took a trip to the Aokigahara Forest in Japan, also known as the “suicide forest,” because many people have attempted and succeeded at ending their own life there. If I were in Japan, I could see myself wanting to pay a visit there, feel its energy, maybe snap a photo … a photo of the forest, not a dead person. You can see Logan Paul and his idiotic friends giggling after stumbling upon a dead person hanging here.
To summarize a horrendous video not worth your time: essentially he and his entourage went to the forest because it understandably has been labeled as haunted. Fine. But when they discover someone who has actually hung themselves, their reactions are absolutely disgusting. They even show a (blurred) close up of the individual. They go on to laugh (maybe nervously, in disbelief, maybe not, whatever), and make a mockery out of it. A spectacle. As a mental health professional, it infuriates me that this is what “entertainment” has come to. And yeah, you can go on and argue that everyone reacts differently and maybe strangely to scary situations … but he did not have to post the video. They constantly refer to what they found as a dead body. Yes, it is, but it is a PERSON. Think about that person, what they were thinking at the time or going through when they decided to hang themselves. Is that funny?
Furthermore, if you want to somehow make the argument that their reaction is somehow natural, again, Logan Paul didn’t have to post the video. Think of the person’s family and friends. Do they need to see that? Can they get the image of their loved one hanging out of their minds? And you laughing at the situation? Is that respectful or helpful? No.
Obviously I’m upset enough about this to rant on a blog… but this warrants attention, not even to shame Logan Paul, but to draw attention to how much social media and its various platforms can devolve into something so awful. What was the goal here? Money? Attention? At what cost? It honestly scares me that someone could be so caught up in trying to make engaging or eye-catching content that they would literally strip another person of their HUMANITY. It looked as though they were laughing at some kind of circus act. So disgusting. And this speaks to a much bigger issue about the current popular culture in the United States regarding how nothing seems sacred anymore, people can come to think that living their lives online is something to aspire to and is “normal.” And not even living their “normal lives” but sensationalizing, exaggerating, or fabricating their day to day activities. They want to make their lives interesting to attract attention and likes. If someone is drinking a milkshake they have to snap a photo and post it to their Instagram.
Obviously what Logan Paul did was extreme and it strikes me so deep. There is something so base and hollow about commodifying another person’s pain and death for one’s own gain. I am not suggesting Logan Paul is a psychopath, I think he got caught up in the attention he received from his 15 million subscribers. He obviously was not mature enough to handle the responsibility of having such a large audience of young people. I wish I could say that I think this incident will deter other awful ones from happening, but I’m not sure that’s the case. A cultural shift needs to happen to where young people in the US don’t feel pressure to make their face/body/lives “Instagram ready,” whatever that means.
We can first look to what might Logan Paul have been thinking? I think it’s likely he wasn’t thinking about anyone but himself, and that’s the problem. He was likely thinking about making exciting content while completely neglecting the fact that the “climax” of his video was the misfortune and pain of another human. That, I think, is what needs to be analyzed and held on to for change to happen. Let us not, in the face of this media-saturated culture, forget each other’s humanity. Logan Paul isn’t perfect, no one is, but this culture breeds a cold climate with a lack of compassion, lack of awareness, etc that needs to be changed. The whole “do it for the vine” mentality needs to be changed, because obviously coming up with content has crossed the line into defilement and disrespect for some people.