Well, this is just awful.
“A video was recently uploaded to YouTube depicting two young girls being forced to fight each other in a New York City park. The video, now posted on Gothamist, shows two girls being aggressively encouraged to fight by what sounds like a group of older females, one of whom is presumably holding the camera. The two young girls, clad in puffy winter coats, appear no older than ten years old, and reluctant to fight one another.”
I doubt I have anything new to say about this specific event itself. Obviously, what they did to those children was horrible and wrong, and I sincerely hope the adults responsible can be identified and dealt with soon. But what I wanted to talk about most was why they would even upload this video to YouTube in the first place. After all, even the most heartless and cruel person in the world would have to understand that uploading a video of themselves abusing children to the Internet can quite easily have repercussions for them. Even if you only care about yourself and no one else, that’s still a good enough reason not to upload it. It just doesn’t make any sort of rational sense.
There’s been a bit of research done on the online disinhibition effect which might help explain this. Essentially, this is the idea that when they’re online, people feel more comfortable behaving and speaking in a way that would normally be too reprehensible in their regular lives. But give them the veil of anonymity and the presence of an audience, and some people can say and do some truly awful things without fear of repercussions. This may be why these women felt comfortable broadcasting this video to the world.
However, that still doesn’t explain why they felt the need to film and upload it in the first place. What were they trying to gain from doing that? Well, obviously I am not one of those women, so I can’t give a definitive answer on that. But I suspect they may have done it for much the same reason anybody else uploads videos; to have it be seen. I suspect they may have been hoping for the video to go viral, or at least to get them some attention. But of course, the difference between this video and something like double rainbow or Friday is that this is a video of child abuse.
But would they be so wrong in thinking this would work as a viral video? After all, videos of little kids go viral all the time. So do videos of people being hurt – after all, just look at failblog. So sadly enough, I can easily see how someone might come to the twisted conclusion that forcing children to hurt each other would somehow be viral video material. Schadenfreude sells on the Internet, it would seem.
Now, the Internet isn’t to blame for what these women did. They are. But they’re still people, and people don’t exist in a vacuum. So I can’t help but wonder; if they didn’t have a public arena to show off what they did, would they have done it? Perhaps they would have, who knows. Perhaps awful people will always do awful things. But I can’t get the question out of my head, what if? On the other hand, if they hadn’t uploaded it, then perhaps the police never would have found out. I don’t know if these people will ever be identified, but if they are they will undoubtedly face charges.
I’m not sure what role the Internet may have played in the decision to do this to those kids and film it. But I have no doubt that it did. What do you think?