Sometimes I wonder if there’s something wrong with me.
I love dystopias! There’s a warm place in my heart for them.
I know it sounds a little anti-establishment and trench-coat loner to love something so dark…
My heart has been troubled these past couple of days and I think I’ve figured out why. At first, I wasn’t going to write this post. I don’t want to write it because it’s another thing to add to the list of ways that I don’t fit. It’s another soap box that everyone is going to misinterpret and add to their file titled: Katie Is a Paranoid Weirdo. But there’s a sickened feeling in my stomach right now that I can’t ignore.
I shouldn’t ignore it.
For two nights in a row, I’ve been around friends watching YouTube videos. Forget the fact that I’d much rather talk to my friends than disengage from them and engage technology. That’s a problem, but let’s focus on the bigger issue for a bit. Of all the videos we watched, I can’t think of a single one that didn’t involve someone getting hurt or embarrassed.
This makes me sick.
I’m not just writing that. It isn’t a cliche bit of hyperbole.
It’s a deep feeling of shame and pain.
Let’s start with the merely embarrassing… I can be okay with watching people voluntarily doing ridiculous things. I can even be okay with some of the videos that were posted by a friend or relative of the embarassee. However, there are A LOT of videos on YouTube that feature a person unknowingly being filmed and broadcast for all to see. That bothers me. I don’t want peoples’ embarrassment accessible to everyone. I don’t want to be entertained by it.
Now, what about those videos that aren’t merely embarrassing? What about the one where a woman falls off a platform stage thingy and makes horrible noises because she can’t breathe? Not only did I see that video more times than I can count on my fingers, but my friends mercilessly mocked this news reporter. “I can’t breathe!” they’d say. They’d mimic the sound of her trying to catch her breath, and they’d laugh. At one point, the friend who introduced us to the video told us that the woman was badly injured (punctured a lung, he said)…
so what is there to do after that news but play the video again and laugh?*
And you know what really sucks? I fake-laughed along with them. I watched people falling down and getting hurt. I watched people’s cars getting jacked up. I watched and watched and watched. I thought about leaving the room, but stayed because I hate that I’m the girl who doesn’t have a Facebook profile, the one who doesn’t watch certain TV shows and movies, the one who goes to bed early (because it’s weird to be in bed before midnight). I’m the easy target. I stayed in the room because I cared more about what my friends thought than about what God thought.
And by the way, what does God think? Of course watching YouTube videos isn’t inherently evil… but is it evil to laugh at another person’s misfortune and calamity? Is it evil to sit down to hours of joy made possible by the most vulnerable moments in strangers’ lives?
I have to say yes. I whole-heartedly believe that what I’ve done for the past two nights is evil. And I’m ashamed.
You know why I love dystopias?
I love them because they aren’t a 4:00 clip of video that dehumanizes. Dystopias show us the context. They show us a life before the 4:00 clip and after. We’re a nation that mocks a woman who can’t breathe. How many steps is it before we laugh at death? Dystopias reveal the truth and danger of dehumanization. They humanize it.
I don’t read dystopias because I think the world is for sure going to hell and a hand basket. I read them because we all need to be reminded that what we’re laughing at isn’t funny. We need to be awakened to the gentle whisper of “that’s a person who is hurting.” I read them because I much prefer to take it too seriously when crap happens than to not take it seriously at all. That’s why I choose apocalyptic dystopias over YouTube any day.
*I did some research on the reporter in the grape video and found out that her name is Melissa Sander, and she wasn’t actually injured. Most likely, she just had the air knocked out of her.