On December 31, Paul uploaded a video from his travels in Japan, detailing his trek into the famous Aokigahara “suicide woods” near Mount Fuji, where he found a man who had apparently recently hanged himself.
It’s the sense that Youtube has created not just its own economy—we’ve heard plenty about that already —but a kind of ethical relativism that, even in the intense glare of mass criticism like Paul got yesterday, seems almost invincible to any outside influence.
But just as Twitter has shown—in its descent from a forum for amusing one-liners to a hellish bog of harassment and Nazism—when left nearly entirely to its own devices, the central spirit of the Internet hive mind, its great howling id, tends toward darkness.
Every time there is some hue and cry about something like Logan Paul callously filming a dead man hanging from a tree, it’s a pushback that seems totally ineffectual—and ignorant of the scope of what is actually happening with YouTube, which is viewed by many, many young people in a way that is more obsessive and more internalized than probably anything any of us experienced in our own youths.
And it has a deviously effective defense system built right in: all that internality suggests that anyone who criticizes it simply doesn’t understand, reifying that sense of belonging for both creator and fan, and pushing everything else further away.
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