Mulhern Is Mad Again: Smartphone Vigilantes

'Mulhern Is Mad Again' - Kevin the Stuntboy's Blog On 'Smartphone Vigilantes' | Kevin  | 94HJY                                                              

I write this blog fully acknowledging that our radio station website often posts many of the types of videos my rant below criticizes.  These are my own opinions and not necessarily those of 94 HJY, iHeartMedia, our affiliates, or advertisers. But HJY and iHeartMedia have graciously given me this forum to express my thoughts on this and other subjects. I'd be curious to know the thoughts of anyone who reads what I've written below.  And, before you comment on my above banner photo, yes, I know I need to trim my eyebrows.

Smartphone Vigilantes

I’m noticing a disturbing trend of people becoming “Smartphone Vigilantes” – shooting real-life, everyday videos of others who they feel have committed a real (or perceived) wrongdoing against them, then publicly shaming these individuals by posting the video on YouTube or other social media for hundreds, or thousands, or millions to see. Petty things, not major crimes. Get into an argument with a fast food drive-thru worker who ends up screaming at you? Don’t complain to the manager or, heaven forbid, walk out of the restaurant. Goad them on while filming them and then post their rant and humiliate them on YouTube. Because, after all, “they deserve it.”

Your neighbor flips out at you because your party’s music is too loud? Don’t apologize to him for the noise, say you’ll turn it down, invite him to the party, or try to handle it in a civil manner. Escalate the problem. Whip out that iPhone, post his angry, five-minute tirade or tantrum online with his enraged face fully exposed, and, congratulations! Your neighbor is now world-famous with 57 million YouTube viewers for being a lunatic for life, even if he may actually be a decent guy who was just having a really bad day. Or maybe your music was too loud, and he did ask you to turn it down nicely at first, or you technically instigated the argument but you, as the “holier than thou” creator of the video, conveniently edited that part out before posting it.

You find out your boyfriend or girlfriend is cheating on you? Sabotage them. Invite them over to hang out, then turn on your Smartphone camera and confront them, accuse them of cheating, then, when they deny it, present them with all of the evidence you have until, realizing they’ve been busted, they get up to leave while you follow them out the door calling them a “slut” or a “liar” or any number of obscenities while they shamefully drive off in their car as you immediately get your thumbs tapping to upload the video to every video sharing site to besmirch their reputation because they hurt you. After all, you’ve never lied, cheated in any way in any endeavor, hurt someone’s feelings deeply, or committed any sin or misdeed that you would never want exposed to anyone, so you have the moral high ground to judge others so harshly and publicly. Were they wrong to cheat? Of course. Are you wrong and pathetic and immature as a full-grown adult to handle your heartbreak like a gossiping high schooler? Of course. Still, you feel you have a duty to warn everyone in the universe to never date or trust this despicable human being. Simply breaking up with the person who cheated on you, telling them how much they hurt you, and hopefully finding someone better to fall in love with isn’t enough justice for this miscreant who betrayed you.

Would any of us want one single act of our worst moments in life preserved on video to define us? To be hurled into cyberspace for all to see in perpetuity, unable to ever be erased? To have vile comments written about us by snarky bloggers or anonymous, soulless YouTube users? Even writing death threats directed at us? Do people just exist now to be exploited for some YouTube chuckles even if their families, jobs, reputations, and safety are at stake? If you’re the poster, are a few thousand social media “thumbs-up” worth disrupting the life of another human being? Does demeaning them on a global scale make you feel better about yourself? Are you hoping to be offered a reality TV show because you were the co-star of the viral video where you filmed “the bad guy” ranting and raving and you made some humorous comments?

Why is this how we handle problems now? If you want to document a real crime for police evidence or employee misconduct for a company to see, fine. But why post it on YouTube if the event truly didn’t hurt anything more than your feelings? Is filming someone who “had the nerve” to cross us and then universally defaming his or her character online going to help anything in any way? Will it do anything to solve a problem when, if engaged in a heated disagreement with someone, you suddenly put them on the defensive by taking out your phone and filming them? Why not handle things with our fellow human beings the way we did in the pre-cell phone camera days – if you have a disagreement, make your case, maybe resolve it peacefully, maybe scream, maybe swear, or maybe just walk away and move on with your life?

If the person is truly threatening your safety, forget the camera and use the phone for what it was originally intended for – as a PHONE to call the police. And lest we forget, oftentimes, sadly, the people featured in these “gotcha’” videos acting like “fools” are actually seriously mentally ill and truly need help. I’m sure seeing the clip of themselves going bananas being shown on “Extra” that night as Mario Lopez’s “Viral Video of the Week” is just the cure they need. Well done, Smartphone Shamer Paparazzi.

When did the goal of society become getting the most website clicks? When did we think it became our right and responsibility to expose others for being “stupid” or “mean” or whatever? We’re given this gift of instant global video and audio communication, never before possible in history, and THIS is how we use it? To demonize a surly Denny’s waitress to get more subscribers to our YouTube channel? Really?! Maybe it’s time for the victims of these vigilante videos to strike back. Sue for defamation. Libel. Something, anything to make these cowardly cyber-bullies think twice before hitting “post”.

As much as those filming these videos try to shame and disgrace their targets, they shame and disgrace themselves, especially if they post videos where an unstable person is screaming obscenities or sexual filth. Because kids and the world in general need more of that, right?

Instead, film Smartphone videos of your puppy, or your kids, or your vacations to share with your family and friends on Instagram, Facebook, wherever. But please, PLEASE stop using your phone’s HD camera to police your silly little world so you can get your 15 minutes of YouTube fame while exploiting others who don’t deserve a lifetime of YouTube shame.

Paul and Al

Paul and Al

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