Vanquish virality

Our online culture enables a negative space for content to achieve virality, often without the subject’s consent.

I hardly knew how to react while watching the now-infamous Starbucks Drake Hands video, where a young man, Brody Ryan, arrests the camera with a smoldering stare while slowly draping one hand across his face to the slow beat of a sultry Drake song.

While #StarbucksDrakeHands is obviously somewhat embarrassing, it also emanates desperation and narcissism.

Online platforms, such as Twitter, allow content to gain widespread notoriety even if the author never intended for anyone to see it but their close friends.

At first, I had a hard time sympathizing with Ryan, as I sat replaying his awkward attempt at seduction.

This woebegotten young man couldn’t have suspected that his video, sent to model Piper Kennedy, would be been posted online by one of Kennedy’s friends, and would eventually manifest itself as a viral phenomenon.

Yet, in our digital age, everyone should be aware of that possibility.

What I find particularly troubling is how viewers don’t acknowledge the lack of consent behind the video. They chuckle and close their browser, passing it off as another peculiar Internet phenomenon.

Ryan may be embracing his momentary fame — but not every person can be expected to welcome this type of unintended publicity or attention, which can have repercussions into one’s offline life.

Ghyslain Raza, better known as the “Star War Kid”, illustrates the resounding psychological and emotional implications of having one’s embarrassing home video go viral.

Raza changed schools after incessant harassment and humiliation, including some people encouraging him to commit suicide, demonstrating the harmful nature of sharing implicitly private content online.

Oftentimes, viewers discount the trauma and repercussions faced by the individual. Comedic relief at the expense of others can sometimes create conditions for cyberbullying and online harassment.

We need to transcend notions of anonymity on the internet and reevaluate the ways in which our reaction to online content can sometimes perpetuate harmful effects on others.

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