I want to get off.
When I was growing up the people whom I idolised were typically racing drivers, musicians or astronauts. People who were at the peak of talent; people who had worked hard and the graft was clear to see, from their post-effort weathered appearance or the way they eloquently spoke about the things they were most passionate about. The weight of the world was on their shoulders and the struggle to retain respect and the appearance of goodwill and cheer for the good of humankind was obvious. That was what I aspired to. That was the thing that gave me purpose in life; work hard, focus on what you want to do and go out and get it. Perhaps if you work hard enough, you’ll realise your goals.
I wanted to be a firefighter. Still do. But I’m nowhere near that life, because I am a scaredy cat and don’t think I could bear the reality of the darker side of firefighting; the dead people. I could take the hero stuff, obviously, courageously carrying out the cat from the blazing apartment. But not the poor old grandad who couldn’t make it out his house before he succumbed to smoke inhalation. That is what stopped me. Mostly being a wimp though.
Anyway, cut to today, where the children aspire to be YouTube stars and I cannot, for the life of me, comprehend it. In the past few days the bewilderment has reached the zenith. 49 people killed in a mosque in New Zealand, by a group of young men, of which one live-streamed the attack to his Facebook page. What’s more, before he left his car he said “Subscribe to Pewdiepie.”
This Pewdiepie apparently has been in a “battle” with another crowd, to gain the most “followers” of their respective YouTube channels, and this appears to have been his campaign slogan to garner more people clicking a button on their computer and giving him more money. Whether or not this terror attack was in some grotesque way a form of support for this Pewdiepie, driven to the absolute extreme, who knows. But that the world accepts that some people sitting in their chairs watching videos or playing video games, making millions of dollars in the process, is a worthy way to spend their existence, is just ludicrous. There’s nothing of real use to be gained from this. Nothing. People who enjoy this type of entertainment are now heading out and killing other people, whilst referencing such vapid excuses as getting some person more subscribers to their YouTube channel; referencing these things during an execution of other people, is completely at odds with what is generally, I’d hope, understood to be the purpose of life.
What is this? What are we doing? Instead of aiming to further the collective nouse of the human race or at the very least further themselves, they’re content on wasting their life generating “content” for other people, some of whom are completely unhinged. I get the whole, “this is the new age man” approach to things, and I am in no way a luddite. I just can’t get over the possibility that a person, or group of people, plan to execute a lot of other people, but at the same time join in with the “fun” and get a laugh by saying something in relation to a social media star’s drive to get more people around the world to give him free money, by clicking on a button. It’s peak fucking maniac. What are we doing!?
I have a daughter, turning 4 soon, who will grow and develop in this distorted, abstract meaning of what it is to be alive; what it is to have purpose and meaning. I am absolutely no humanitarian, out assisting people in desperate need of help. I am absolutely not a scientist at the forefront of medical progression, allowing people to live healthier, longer lives. I am absolutely not worthy of any form of note. But surely this Pewdiepie bloke will wake up one day and ask himself, what have I done here? What have I personally achieved, besides obtaining lots of money and notoriety as the guy who has tens of millions of followers of a place that offers stupid, senseless and generally worthless gags and the rare “edgy” statement on human traits? He must! Everyone asks themselves what they’re contributing to their life and the world. Will he regret the fact he spent so much of his life generating videos that do nothing if not give people a quick smirk or feeling of faux-community spirit?
I get it; who am I to say what is worthwhile or not; he’s got infinitely more money than I do and infinitely more opportunity to do good because of it. Yet there’s no-one shouting my name before they slay innocent, peaceful people. There’s no-one getting angry at me because I created something that was purposefully vicious or “controversial” because I could. And because I could, I should. What’s more worthwhile, being world-widely unknown and unable to contribute meaningfully to the world’s progress? Or being an extremely wealthy social media “star” who uses fame and wealth to contribute to sadness and anger, mostly on purpose?
Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. It’s beyond my levels of comprehension. I worry for my daughter. I worry for the world. I feel an immense sadness and helplessness that this is the worthwhile pursuits that young people aspire to. Social media is a fantastic, useful tool.
It’s also the definition of the absolute worst display of humanity. What a time to be alive.