TRIGGER WARNINGS: This content includes mention of suicide.
YouTube’s content has made its way from bad to worst thanks to the irresponsible acts of its most valuable members. No matter your social status or popularity on social media, everyone should know that there is a limit to consider in the quest for views and likes. Unfortunately, it looks like some people on YouTube do not seem to understand this simple rule.
The 22-year-old YouTube star Logan Paul has been under major criticism after posting an end of New Year’s Eve video blog with insensitive footage of a hanging man at Aokigahara, Japan’s ‘suicide forest’. According to various news sources in the video, Logan is shown with a couple of friends going through the forest on an unrestricted area when they encounter the body of a man hanging from one of the trees of the forest. Logan and his friends contact the authorities, but are shown displaying disrespectful behavior accompanied by subtle laughs while addressing the situation.
The video was taken down by Logan himself after it sparked a wave of criticism on social media and in the comments section of the video; however, by the time the video had been taken down, it had already received more than 6 million views. In the video, Paul is heard saying, “Yo, are you alive?” to the victim, accompanied by multiple zooms into the man’s hands and blurred face.
Other YouTube stars and celebrities have expressed their discomfort with Logan’s video calling him “disgusting” and “sick.” YouTube star PewDiePie, better known as Felix Kjellberg, who faced major criticism in 2017 for racist comments, addressed the issue on a video criticizing Logan’s actions saying, “I always knew that Logan Paul was a jackass, so I wasn’t really surprised by the fact that once Logan Paul found a dead body, that he acted like a jackass… He went up to the body, filmed it literally up close… It’s not the kind of stuff you’d see on YouTube; very disturbing; really disrespectful, zooming on the body, making weird jokes about it… Logan, he’s a straight-up sociopath.”
Breaking Bad actor Aaron Paul also expressed his discomfort towards Logan on Twitter: “Dear Logan Paul, How dare you! You disgust me. I can’t believe that so many young people look up to you. So sad. Hopefully, this latest video woke them up. You are pure trash. Plain and simple. Suicide is not a joke. Go rot in hell.”
Logan apologized to his subscribers and all those affected by his actions in a video posted the following day in response to the criticism. YouTube has recently addressed the issue, stating that the graphic footage found on Paul’s video “can only remain on the site when supported by appropriate educational or documentary information.” Despite the apology issued by Logan, people have asked for Logan’s removal on YouTube and for legal actions to be taken against him and those involved in the video.
Logan’s last video seems to have dug a deeper hole than any other YouTube star involved in a situation like this; however, Logan Paul seems to be just the tip of the iceberg. Many YouTube members and subscribers have been involved in inappropriate and insensitive content that has caused major backlash on social media throughout the years. Logan has recently addressed his fans saying he will take some time to reflect on his actions, though it seems that criticism against Logan won’t seem to stop anytime soon.
The question then becomes: What is the picture that this situation paints for current and future subscribers and content creators on YouTube? This issue has reaffirmed that regardless of many views you get or how ashamed you may seem to be in an apology video published the day after your mistake, there is some limit for the content you create. A limit that you must be able to see, especially when your audience is predominantly young viewers 25 and under.
However, the authors of the content are not the only ones to blame. It is important to notice that Logan Paul was the one who took the video down himself, not YouTube. What does this really say about YouTube then? Although they have released a statement clarifying that their platform does not allow any kind of gory or graphic content, this clearly shows that they don’t intend to cause any kind of harm to those who fill their pockets.
If YouTube had really cared about the content and its audience as they say they do, they would have taken down the content and dealt with Logan Paul as soon as it was published. This only shows how YouTube has become a platform for dirty business.
There is nothing to laugh or record about suicide, and it is a shame that a platform as popular as YouTube has allowed its subscribers to share this type of content without any kind of consequence to the author. I am not asking for the total ban of Logan Paul from YouTube, but rather the start of a ‘wake-up’ call in social media. These kind of actions will not stop until us, as part of the social media community do something about it. It is a shame that a couple of hours after starting the New Year, we have to deal with the insensitive and sickening actions of one person.
This situation will hopefully serve as an example to all members of the YouTube community as well as other media platforms showing how a deep and sensitive reflection before publishing content on the web can save you from ruining your multimillionaire ‘job’.
If you or a loved one is experiencing thoughts of suicide or self-harm, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or go to https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org. Remember that we can all help prevent suicide.