The Vincentian YouTuber at the centre of the fake abduction of a female last Saturday says people who have criticized what she terms a “social experiment” are “small minded” and just do not understand what YouTubers do. (See story on page 14).The police and others see it differently, pointing out how easily things could have gone wrong, even turning deadly, especially since an imitation firearm was used during the “prank”.
The youngsters who participated in the making of the abduction video are among the hundreds of millions of people around the world who create original video content for upload to social media platforms in the hope that their content will be so engaging that it will attract a large enough audience and they will be paid lots of money for their videos.
But the threshold that must be overcome before social media platforms like YouTube begin to pay is high. A YouTuber must have a minimum of 1000 subscribers and 4000 watch hours over the past 12 months before they can begin to monetize their content. How much a content creator makes varies, depending on several factors including how many views their videos get and the place of residence of their viewers.
So we see the pressure to create shocking and unusual content that would “go viral” and put dollars in the bank. But these pranks can turn deadly as was the case in February 2021 when a 20-year-old was shot dead in the United States during a “prank robbery” being filmed for YouTube.
The insistence therefore by these young Vincentian content creators that their actions over the weekend did not cross the line is surprising and disappointing. So too is the view held by at least one of them that the criticism they have received is “fight down” which would not have been meted out had the “prank” been staged by overseas content creators.
We absolutely applaud initiative, creativity and skill among our people, but in making their movies, good sense must prevail. What happened last Saturday could have landed them all in jail for up to one year or worse, someone could have been killed. Bystanders on the sidewalk outside the supermarket took what they were seeing for granted; panicked, screamed and ran. Suppose someone had run into oncoming traffic or the holder of a licensed firearm had responded to what they perceived to be an imminent threat?
In order to gain respect for the work they do, our young YouTubers must lift their game by showing consideration for the people they live among and obeying the laws of the country.
Yes, we get it; this is what YouTubers do. But YouTubers need to get that the world they live in is real; it is not virtual, neither is it a film set where everything is a prop and everyone else an extra in their movie.