Ah, to be young and Insta-famous.
The pursuit of online fame and attention is nothing any of us are unfamiliar with, or even uncomfortable with. As social media platforms grow larger and more profitable by the second, it’s difficult to find anyone without a favorite YouTuber or Instagram model. I’m certainly not here to bash the evolution of social media – without it, I wouldn’t have gotten the opportunity to be writing this article. Having online outlets to express yourself and connect with people internationally has enabled our current generation to do things that previous generations couldn’t have ever dreamed of. Having an online presence and using it to share parts of our lives isn’t anything to be discouraged.
However, there are lengths that people should not resort to in order to achieve fame in the online community. I am referring specifically to content creators who purposefully endanger themselves and others just to gain some views and followers. It is especially disturbing to know that some of these online celebrities have huge fan bases of children as young as 8 or 9 years old — kids who would do anything to meet their idols or sometimes, even worse, try to imitate them. There is a point where “pranks” and “challenges” go way too far, and have no business being on camera and broadcast to the millions of increasingly impressionable youth logging on by the minute. Here are a few incidents to shed some light on the subject.
No, an encyclopedia can’t stop a bullet
A couple weeks ago, news broke of 19-year-old MonaLisa Perez being arrested for second-degree manslaughter after she shot her boyfriend Pedro Ruiz with a .50 caliber Desert Eagle handgun, which Maxim Magazine calls one of the most powerful handguns on the planet. Her motive? Not one of malice, but one of sheer ignorance and recklessness. Perez and her boyfriend were filming a YouTube video where they planned for Ruiz to hold an encyclopedia to his chest and for Perez to shoot him through it, presumably believing that the encyclopedia would stop it. The bullet punctured Ruiz’s chest and, tragically, he died at the scene. The couple’s 3-year-old child looked on as the incident unfolded, and it was later revealed that Perez is also pregnant with their second child. She is now facing up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $20,000.
Perez has claimed that the idea was Ruiz’s and not hers, making this post on Twitter. She also told TV reporters that she tried to discourage him from the task as well. No matter whose fault Perez claims for it to be, it does not change the fact that a young man lost his life, and two children have lost their father in an accident that could have easily been avoided. It is ridiculous that we find ourselves hearing of incidents like this, where people are being hurt and killed simply to gain their 15 minutes of fame. No amount of views is worth someone’s life.
Popular Viner turned Youtuber, Logan Paul attended VidCon and decided that it would be a good idea to hide $3,000 somewhere at the convention, announce to his legion of tween fans that it was up for grabs, then vlog the riot that ensued. He posted the footage on his channel and completely ignored the fact that in an attempt to meet him and find the money, many of the kids in the crowd were trampled and injured.
YouTubers like Paul already capitalize off of an extremely naive, young, and impressionable audience. To put them in danger just for laughs goes to show that he doesn’t care about his young fans as human beings, but as tiny, walking wallets filled with their parents money. Evidently, the only talent that these mediocre white boys seem to possess is capitalizing off of their mind-numbing content, massive egos, and complete disregard for their young fans. Hopefully their nonsense fizzles out rather soon.
Parents Lose Custody Over Pranks
In May 2017, Mark and Heather Martin were investigated for child abuse and lost custody of their 2 children due to videos of the parents playing “pranks” on the children on their YouTube channel, DaddyOFive. The videos show the couple yelling at the children for things that they did not do and breaking their toys, supposedly as pranks. Heather Martin admitted, “We have made some terrible parenting decisions and we just want to make things right.”
Even though the parents show remorse, it is no excuse for the trauma that their children have endured as a result of their attempt at gaining some cheap laughs on their YouTube channel. Emergency custody of the two children, aged 9 and 11, has been granted to their biological mother Rose Hall. It is certainly disturbing to consider the effects that this whole incident will have on this family.