Soulja Boy danced his way into internet stardom by reaching a critical mass of clicks in days with catchy hooks and addictive sing-alongs. His song superman even had the wheel-chair bound moving like their accident never happened. With him we saw the first of many who’s number of views would rocket them into the mainstream. View-count also tells a story. It narrates from start to finish what Malcolm Gladwell calls in his book The Tipping Point, “the stickiness factor”. This is a phenomena that happens when a fashion statement, word, or place is so easily digested by the public and so enticing, that it becomes a paralyzing trend to pop-culture. What I’ll share with you in the next few paragraphs took me a week to summarize into words. As with most epiphanies these days, I had it while watching a ratchet fight on WorldstarHipHop, a website famous for putting societies lowest moments on full display.
From what I could count on camera it was easily 6 to 8 teenage girls. However, I don’t believe they even thought the video they featured in would be played over 100,000 times, an ode to Soulja Boy himself. It was March 9, 2015 and New Yorkers were enjoying unexpected jacket weather in a city known for it’s hawkish winter endings. To be exact they were in Flatbush, a rugged section in Brooklyn with as many Mcdonald’s as there is stars in the sky. However, the golden arched kingdom on Flatbush Avenue played host to two of the most heinous actions I’ve ever seen play out, a girl getting severely jumped by cowards, and the imbeciles filming them.
Usually I skip through any ghetto fights on my feed, but the constant comments on my Facebook timeline consisting of “why did they do her like that” and “these kids are straight outta control” pulled my finger magnetically to the press play button. At any other time I’m disgusted, nose turned to the sky, enraged at footage that continues the narrative of black self-destruction. While whomever decided the best option was to capture a grainy video that afternoon, a teenage girl was consumed by the kicks and punches of her cohort for 120 grueling seconds. A ton can happen in 2 minutes, especially if your in a fight with 6 people.
She stood up prideful, attempting to square one opposer off amidst a sea of overly pubescent girls, bravely swung with all her might one or two times, and was eventually overwhelmed by ugg boots and french manicured fists. The mob cheered on in elation as every blow sent her spiraling to the ground. She hid under a thin table for refuge. In seconds she was ripped away from the little safety the table provided, and continued to receive stomps to the temple. More phones popped up out of the congregation as she now began to have her hair extensions torn out of her head. Before I knew it an entire group of onlookers seemed less concerned with the health of the young girl being attacked, as they were inspired by the brutality.
Since that fateful day I witnessed the aforementioned video, at least five girls committing the attack have been arrested for charges ranging from robbery to felony gang assault. I can’t say that I’m even slightly bothered by them reaping those consequences. But what about the people who turned McDonald’s into a cockfight? Should they be held accountable? Is there a immorality charge listed in the court of law? To think that this tradition might carry on into the new millennium is deafening. Crisis, near-death, and mob beatings are all worthy of shoddy camera work by veggie brained zombies praying for their big break with a worldstar submission.
Our beloved internet is a labyrinth full of content that can either raise your sense of togetherness or sink it lower than the titanic. I may stand alone, but I think it’s awkward that we have people such as an unnamed woman in New York, who saw a man teetering on the Brooklyn Bridge prepared to say his last good-bye’s to a cruel world, stop him for a selfie. Or in October 13, 2013 when Bahsid Mclean, severed his mothers head and then took a quick pic to commemorate the occasion. I could go on and on, but the mere mentioning of their names and stories seems like it would be exactly what they want.
Truth be told, the selfie is a “me” thing, and since we still live in a sick world that needs monsoons of holy water, it turns the “me” into “I”. Hey, my phone is about “me” right? So, “I” have to get this footage. No way “I” am letting this slip by without shooting a video. “I” could go viral when “I” post this clip “I” took! And the seconds roll on our video recorders, with every red blink on the screen screaming validation, because this just might be it. Today I may upload the internet breaking cinema of the week, the bloodier the better. Twenty years ago we wouldn’t have had a context for all the content we consume. Today our content needs compassion.
Every minute, youtube users upload 48 hours worth of content. 100,000 tweets are sent, Instagram users post 3,600 photos, Facebook personalities share 684,000 pieces of content, and 204,000,000 emails are distributed back and forth. And while the batons of savage beatings, blood thinning mob violence and death clips are passed, someone at the other end of the camera may just be wishing that we didn’t pull out our phones when these things are happening, but instead, pulled out our humanity.