*Trigger warning: This article covers extremely sensitive topics such as suicide and death. Please don’t read this if you’re opt to be triggered by such ideas.
He may not be a familiar face to the Korean public, but he’s undoubtedly the number one when it comes to notoriety in the global Youtube community. Logan Paul, a 22-year-old American Internet personality with nearly 17 million subscribers on Youtube, is something much worse than those desperate, one-of-a-kind attentionseeking idiots you can easily find on the Internet. On December 31st of 2017, this man posted a Youtube video titled “We found a dead body in the Japanese Suicide Forest…” In that video he showed the body of a suicide victim he came across while visiting the “Suicide Forest” in Japan, and what’s worse is he acted… kind of amused by it. He didn’t blur it out properly (only the face), and even went an extra mile to put the image of the body in the thumbnail, exploiting a man’s suicide just for his own views. And as he planned, the video went viral for its sensational title and thumbnail, eventually making it to #1 on the Trending page, and receiving 6.2 million views before deletion. Of course, he had made profit of every single click.
Aokigahara, more widely known as “Suicide Forest”, is the world’s second most popular place to take one’s life. In this forest, these tragic events occur so often that you can just easily run into bodies if you travel a little deep into the woods. The Japanese government even decided to stop revealing the number of lives taken inside the forest a long time ago to stop making the place yet more popular. Which, I’m afraid, all went down in flames thanks to Paul’s reckless and shameful behaviour. For a several weeks or so the whole Internet, by which I mean literally every news media, every social media user, every other Youtube creator and even some of the traditional celebrities, were blaming him for his indiscretion and were angrily demanding Youtube to permanently suspend him from the platform itself. In response to this Paul actually did post an apology on Twitter, posted a better apology video on Youtube, apologised again on Good Morning America, and made a supposedly wholesome video on suicide prevention in which he pledged to make a $1 million donation for such causes. But nearly no one believes he’s sincere enough nor that he had learned a single thing over the course of this massive sh*tstorm. In his subsequent videos, he’s still that Logan Paul we know him for: That Logan Paul who tasers dead rats (so apparently, it’s dead animals now, not dead humans), complains about “the whole world hating on him” and boasts about gaining another million subscribers throughout the suicide forest incident itself. But that’s much less of a concern now that it’s over, to most of us people who are smart enough not to enjoy Paul’s problematic content. What really matters here is that Paul’s original viewers are very young – mostly in their preteens or early teens – and they found nothing wrong with what he has done. They defended Paul, saying “it was for the sake of raising awareness for suicide and suicide prevention”, or worse, “I just like him why do y’all hate on him?!” It’s disrespectful. Unempathetic. Unethical. Horrible. And it’s such a shock that kids don’t even realise how disgusting that is. I simply cannot imagine what kind of another Black Mirror episode it would be to unravel in front of us, when these kids grow older to become responsible members of society. As columnist Richard Lawson has rightly put, “The discrete idiots may come and go. But the idiot machine will still keep churning, loud and autonomous and impervious enough to drown out everything else, until it’s all there is.”