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There’s nothing wrong with the Internet. I say “There’s something awry about society”.. YouTube Only? Suicide forest, live streaming and weird NSFW videos.

YouTube Only? Suicide forest, live streaming and weird NSFW videos.

Have I got your attention?

Most likely it happened when you read the title and I sparked off a myriad of brain connections that elicited a memory about some of these topics. Good; you’re almost a typical candidate for how the internet can trap you into addiction, porn and depressions through social media use…. Only kidding…..or am I?

Here’s my rant about this today and yes I’ve noticed some of my posts have been a bit ranty, but that’s what happens when I become frustrated, angry, sad and defensive of my clients and in general people whom I have based Cybertrauma theory on.

You see the internet is a business. FACT. YouTube/Facebook/Twitter and LinkedIn are business too, FACT. The thing with business is their ultimate aim is to bring in money. Lots of it. As much as they can. Ethics, Values and Impact are all debatable here and yet I understand that the ethics of one company may not reflect another. Do they care about the impact their business has on the world? Perhaps only as far as can, I make them money? Perhaps in terms of forward-thinking; a grand life for designing something in the here and now is overpowered by the thinking processes of self-regulation versus aspirations and greed? Perhaps I am cynical, however, I do think that honestly designers of the platforms and apps that appear on the internet are not concerned with long term impact if they can design something that will earn them big bucks. I know I would because I am a human too. It would be hard to resist no doubt?

So recently there was this ‘thing’ that appeared on the internet whereby a journalist (not some small-time researcher such as myself or other academics who study this stuff for a living) decided to write about some YouTube videos being unsuitable for children. No shit sherlock!! This article went ‘viral’ (Interesting how this term is now used). I sat in awe as this is one tiny part of my theory of cybertrauma and for a while, I sat thinking you’re kidding me, now ‘we’ (some of the internet) outcry about a phenomenon that has been around since the internet began and I’ve not to this date seen much of an implementation to reduce these videos or remove them regardless of the size of the article and outcry? #moneymaker

How interesting and what about…. Live streaming of a number of issues of which I will speak about just one here and have previously written a blog on. What about Snuff movies? What about sites that teach about heinous acts? What about the stuff that isn’t on YouTube, why are “we” not upset about this? What are “we” actually doing about it? Can the internet providers prevent this? (highly unlikely and the topic of a cyber synapse podcast soon) #maybenotmoneymaker

Then came the flurry of articles (mostly opinionated and often citing less than significant research articles) in the media about how social media is addictive; I argue it’s not. It’s more complicated than this and is an overlap of attachment behaviours and ‘addiction in laypersons language’ not the Psychopathological aspect. But I’m sure ‘we’ can make money out of this? Perhaps even offer ‘Interventions’ for this issue? #moneymaker

Now we have psychopathology of ‘gaming disorder’ that will soon mean that this term will be used to ‘diagnose’ normal friendship behaviours when the medium between people is a PC, console or smartphone. I don’t actually remember learning about the Mental Health disorder of telephonic communication addiction or electronic communication disorder but I do know it was a normal part of growing up to use the telephone for ages and perhaps even consecutively for days on end, moreover, this is how people actually communicated with each other, you know like to have conversations and be social…. Oh-oh, there’s that addictive word again! Once again ‘we’ (some of the internet) will now use this to begin providing quackery interventions, clinics and ‘recovery centres’ #moneymaker

Now we have terms (all being made up as we speak) like ‘social media-related anxiety’ and ‘socmed depression’, ‘socmed addiction’ and many more. All which provide the internet with judgemental language which can be imposed on the younger generations by those who invented/designed it. #irony. They could probably spend time designing apps to help with these terms? #moneymaker*Today I saw an article that talks about young people not being equipped to deal with ‘socmed pressure’ (runs off to add to cyber dictionary as this may well be different to the real world pressure?…I think not but I do suggest it’s enhanced somewhat)

The point I want to now make is about how the internet is a #moneymaker environment and this is its primary function/purpose. It’s quite sobering and disturbing what I am about to discuss so please take care of yourself when and after reading this. (with that comment I now know I have your attention so please be aware your curiosity may get the better of you).

Recently Logan Paul a Youtuber with fifteen million subscribers…. #moneymakerforYoutube #moneymakerforhim, Of whom the demographic is likely to be aged under 25 when the brain is not fully developed by the way and is impacted by traumatic images far more than adults in terms of neuroscience which I won’t go into here, and of course anyone under the age of 25 is clearly ‘addicted and can’t resist watching Youtube’ (I’m seriously considering taking up sarcasm as an academic form right now).

Anyway, back to the 15 million subscribers and the recent video that Logan decided to film, bring back to his production team which includes editors, publishers and so on. This was a morbid display of him illegally entering Suicide Forest in Japan, whereby he is heard to say on the video something along the lines of “I wonder if I’ll see a suicide” (I mean c’mon was this scripted? Now I’m thinking I wonder if there will be bread at the bakers? hmm). Well indeed there was a recent suicide in the forest approximately 100m from the entrance and Logan is seen to walk up to the persons body and begin discussing his surprise, and adds in but did you know he also has more videos on his website and merchandise etc.? .#moneymaker. (I’ve not heard the exact wording but this is the gist of it) He is joined by others and they film the person’s body and belongings and continue chatting, but perhaps as s gin of his level of knowledge touted as respect, he does blur out the persons face. Because that’s how to get past the filters (A bit like the black mirror episode I recently watched- Top job btw Charlie Brooker may season 5 hurry up!)

The aspect about this video that’s morbid, sad and disrespectful occurs on two levels. One those who filmed it, edited it and produced it. Two the fact that YouTube trended it. Yep- they decided to put it into trending whereby anyone who was not on Logans subscriber list might have seen it too. 15 million-plus and counting.

It has been taken down after an outcry by ‘we’ of the internet and this includes celebs. I’m left wondering though how much money this made through the number of views for YouTube/Logans team in the 24 hours or so that it was up and most importantly the effect this has had on children and young people as this conversation has been in my therapy room this week. Furthermore who decided along the route from the initial filming through to the process of appearing on YouTube and them deciding to monetise on this where the values, ethics and respect that this person deserved? Why did no-one seemingly say I don’t want to be part of this, please don’t put it up etc? Where was the human decision?

This video exists outside of YouTube and therefore is still accessible and not to forget that others can now make money out of this and will do so. It’s about the money, the business, the fame, the shock and so on.

To misquote the journalist James Bridle: There’s nothing wrong with the Internet. I say “There’s something awry about society”. The internet does not currently decide to film, edit, produce and upload videos of this nature nor does it then go onto monetise it by labelling it as trending. That’s a human being that does that.

On or off YouTube it doesn’t really matter as there will always be a platform and always someone willing to be a #moneymaker out of it. Never mind the consequences?

DITTO Article September 2017 – Fear from the media and critical thinking.

This article has appeared in the quarterly DITTO e-safety magazine which you can access through Alan Mackenzie’s page via my links page or by going to

My last article talked about fake news, scare stories and critical thinking. This one is not so far from that in terms of the topic, however, I wanted to write something that feels more hopeful for you as teachers and parents.I took a number of small social media sabbaticals this year for a number of reasons. The main reason being for self-care. You see when you submerge yourself in something, such as a bath you expect to get wet. Well, so the same goes for social media and the incessant negative stories and topics that I research, means that I can become both overwhelmed or begin to view the world in a skewed manner if I don’t practice what I preach in terms of looking after myself. As a professional working with peoples stories of their traumas, negative life experiences and worries for much of my day, this can happen to me as a therapist in the real world, and so in turn researching, cybertrauma can also have this impact. I keep a very close eye on myself in this respect and know when to take some time out and regularly discuss this in supervision to makes sure I am not becoming vicariously traumatised. This is a (helpful) suggestion for you too.As I took these mini sabbaticals during late spring and summertime there were some awful tragedies occurring throughout the world and being shared on social media (no more so than at any other time I might add), however, I made a conscious decision to refrain from social media to see what happened for me as usual, this is one of the points when I research much more closely, it is after all my chosen topic of interest.In short, I found that I both managed the breaks and they were delightful. I am aware that this may cause some people to break into a cold sweat when thinking about taking time out from social media and this is not an article about the benefits of social media sabbaticals. What I did find out, what has interested me and is the remit of this article is that social media exacerbates the fear factor and this was apparent with my clients who brought their social media stories and scares into the therapy room for the entire time I was on my sabbaticals.So what I wanted to communicate is more about the psychology of fear, violence, crime and terrorism and how this is not actually as prominent as social media makes out (this is not rocket science here by the way and you should not be surprised by this statement). Firstly let me introduce two excellent researchers and academics who have studied humans and violence. Stephen Pinker and Gavin de Becker are world-renowned in their studies of human behaviour and violence and show that the incidences of violence are less in terms of prevalence and degrees of actual bodily harm since we began as a species to harm each other (Seriously good reads by both of these authors and I recommend them both).So what does this mean in terms of this article? Well as the new term begins, new pupils, new topics of ‘social media’ issues, well you may find your pupils talk about terror, fear, violence, graphic issues and terrorism much more. This is because Manchester, Grenfell, Barcelona and Finland, North Korea etc have been given much more ‘airtime’ through social media. The increase of this airtime is likely to increase the awareness of this topic into younger peoples lives (year 7-11) and their understanding of this topic is likely to be limited in terms of cognitive skills (reasoning, critical thinking and executive functions- see Pinker’s work). In turn, this may mean they can become fearful of a topic due to limited understanding and ‘gossip’ from their peers who are also in the same frame of reference. I’m sure you all have an understanding of this with the ‘ghost/zombie’ stories we all heard and participated in during adolescence; fear breeds fear.If this is applied to a social media frame then you should be able to see how the miscommunication of fear-based stories of violence create an anxiety in young people that is then further communicated in the hope of understanding it. As teachers I feel you can help your pupils learn to think critically and by challenging the facts around the news stories yourself and with your pupils. You may be able to appease the fear and anxiety somewhat by having these discussions rather than avoiding them. The hopeful news is, as a species we are actually less violent now than in the past. Due to the medium of social media, we can now discuss and share incidents much faster and become aware of issues that in the past would have happened, perhaps in another country (without our awareness). We are actually overloaded with this kind of information and this can skew our thinking in a negative way. What are the options? Perhaps this is the kind of educated debate we can have with young people to support critical thinking, challenge the status quo of fear-based news, create a balanced view of events and also provide ourselves with a reassurance that the world is not as violent as we think and that fear should be our intuitive gift, rather than our daily bread & butter served up with lashings of anxiety, worry and speculation. Let’s change the menu.Start writing your post here. You can insert images and videos by clicking on the icons above.

Dick Pics and online dating

Dick Pics and dating sites.

Just what I needed to receive just before eating my dinner; not! (I just vomited a little there, sorry!)

How many messages before I get sent one? The current record is 3 and still stands at this from 2010.

It kind of went a little bit like this:

  1. HI, nice profile,
  2. Hi,
  3. DING…..(insert picture in your own mind as this is NSFW)

Well, that leaves nothing to the imagination and so I told him. I then stopped using dating sites for that purpose and began to research why this was happening in 2010 and had I just chanced upon a random ‘flasher’?

In short, no and it can get worse than that! ( I won’t be covering that in this blog though so you’re safe)

But that’s not the ulterior message I am going to highlight here; You see I have been researching dating sites for some time to watch the behaviours of men towards women on dating sites as this is the only research I can carry out (for the time being). The things I have noticed have left me saddened, speechless and I have a lot of sympathy for the genuine guys out there trying to get a date or lifelong partner.

So yes “dick pics” are a part of this and whilst this is probably not the way to win a woman by early displays of your erect genitalia (I’ve never knowingly been sent or been told about pictures of flaccid ones btw) there are a number of sites that no longer/do not allow these to be sent in chats on the site. Rightly so! It’s the process around this, and how that happens that I have been interested in because it’s not being talked about enough.

So let me introduce you to the ‘Romantic guy’, you know the one whom many women are looking for on a dating site? I am going to make a big presumption here and say that this may because the women are looking for someone that isn’t their ex (you can now insert your own prejudices about” he was a….” whatever). So yeah they’re looking for a nice guy…..

Herein lies the deception. I have watched a number of profiles whereby the story behind them seeking love is a wife/gf who treated them poorly and they have been deeply affected by this and they are looking for a soulmate…. Someone they can trust, just cuddle up with (not meaning sex) and have deep and meaningful conversations with etc…etc; all of the things that women are drawn to in Romcoms and Mills and Boons books.

  1. Genuine guys who have had this happen and who have real profiles like this are now seemingly going to get the bad end of the stick here, however, they are not the ones I am talking about.
  2. I’m talking about ‘the deceptors’ who are baiting the women out.

You see what happens now is called a ‘psychological game’ (Eric Berne and his theory: T.A. describes this as a set of transactions leading to a payoff whereby one or both parties are left with a particular feeling)

This dating game follows a pattern of contact, in this case viewing his profile either by looking in the first place or because he looked at yours so it’s only fair to look at his, which has been carefully edited. The conversation is struck up and moves onto sharing details that are outside the dating sites, eg phone numbers, kik/snapchat/whatsapp handles or numbers.

It is at this stage that you receive the unsolicited sexting picture. ‘The payoff’ for the woman is disgust/surprise/maybe even a giggle, or two. The payoff for the sender; gratification at the very least. Obviously, I don’t know what they do at this stage and the women I have spoken to about this don’t tend to hang around to find out either!

Also, dick pics is not a conversation that is happening enough with women or men, the point I am attempting to make here is this is not okay on a number of levels and we speak to young women/men and girls/boys about this and we make adverts and have conferences about it. This is behaviour that is sexually intrusive, without consent, its sexting and grooming/stalking behaviour.

Why am I talking about this? Well, it seems that both men and women are mostly embarrassed to talk about this and when they genuinely get a chance to discuss it they are angry and do not like it. I think that perhaps there is a misconception that grooming only happens to sexually exploited young people.

The game I talked about in this blog is also known by its more popular name: “grooming”.

This is to say women and men can be and are groomed on dating sites and this is one of the ways it happens. It’s not so long ago that a man was arrested and charged for date raping women he had met via online dating sites. This is how it happens. Grooming.

This does not just happen to women, I know as I have seen some homosexual men in therapy and one disclosed that he regularly got sent dick pics in this way and had not asked for them.

However whilst this subject remains taboo/embarrassing then the full extent (pardon the pun) of this issue will remain hidden also. Dating sites need to be treated with the same caution that we advise to younger people about accepting ‘friends’. You are only dealing with a picture and some text, to begin with, treat it with caution. You genuinely do not know who you are talking to.

If you’re reading this and would be interested in sharing your experience anonymously for some research into cyberstalking/harassment please contact me. I will treat any contact regarding this issue with confidentiality.