Tech trends and social irresponsibility of Internet celebrities

WHILE the rest of the world was “googling” about Hurricane Irma, the new iPhones and the royal girlfriend Meghan Markle, Pinoys were a bit more occupied with song lyrics and beauty pageants.

Google released its annual “Year in Search,” highlighting the 2017 top trending searches in the Philippines and it shows just how much Pinoys love to sing. “Despacito lyrics” and “Versace on the Floor lyrics” emerged as the top 2 search topics on Google Philippines, while Miss Universe 2017 was third.

The spooky story about “Lucia Joaquin” came in fourth, while the “death” of ex-Hasht5 member formerly known as Marlou Arizala became this year’s top trending male personality following his rebirth into Xander Ford.  The Voice Teens TV and Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why were the most searched programs coming in at sixth and seventh place, while two other songs landed in the top 10: the national anthem for kids “Baby Shark” and Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect,” coming in at Nos. 8 and 9, respectively. Rounding up the top 10 is the Fiba Asian Cup.

However, it seems that only a few even bothered to actually search for the English translation of “Despacito”—otherwise, no adult in their right mind would be cheering and encouraging their little ones to dance to such a sexually driven song.

Well, “Macarena” then, “Despacito” now.

The trending topics also reflect Filipinos’ persistent pageant craze. The Miss Universe pageant landed two spots on the list of trending events. Maxine Medina, who represented the Philippines at the Miss Universe pageant in 2016, is 2017’s top trending female personality.

Joining her on the list of top trending female personalities are other beauty queens: Binibining Pilipinas-International 2017 Mariel de Leon, Binibining Pilipinas-Universe 2017 Rachel Peters and Miss Universe 1993 Dayanara Torres.

In the world of tech, the iPhone X and iPhone 8 were the two most searched smartphones followed by the Huawei Nova 2i. Oppo had three phones on the list with the Oppo F5, Oppo F1s and the F3 at Nos. 4, 5 and 9, respectively. Samsung’s Note 8 might be the smartphone of the year for a lot of tech guys but as far as searches go, it was the Galaxy J7 Pro (No. 6) and  Samsung Galaxy J2 Prime (No. 8) that made it to the list. Completing the list are two Nokia phones, the Nokia 6  (No. 7) and the retro Nokia 3310

“In a way, the Year in Search offers us a glimpse of what we liked as a people what issues affected us, what sparked our interest, and everything in between that appealed to our emotions the past year,” Google Philippines Head of Communications and Public Affairs Gail Tan said.

LOGAN’S WORLD

DID YouTube “Maverick” Logan Paul just commit career suicide at the Aokigahara Forest?

At the time of this writing, almost 100,000 people have signed a petition calling on YouTube to delete the channel of the Internet superstar. But with more than 15 million subscribers, do those numbers even mean anything to Logan, or the profits he makes for YouTube?

Logan made headlines recently after posting a controversial vlog which showed a dead body.

The YouTuber and his friends were in Japan, and decided to do a vlog at the Aokigahara Forest, which is known to be a suicide destination, and after going off-trail…surely enough, they stumbled across a man’s corpse hanging from a tree.

The video had the “clickbaity” title, “We found a dead body in the Japanese Suicide Forest…”, and began with Logan’s poor attempt to censor himself by issuing warning, blurring the victim’s face and including several suicide hot lines, including one in Japan.  Logan and his crew saw the suicide victim’s body hanging from a tree and, instead of turning the camera off, they went closer and continued filming, later uploading close-up shots of the corpse, with the person’s face blurred out.

“Did we just find a dead person in the suicide forest?” Paul said to the camera. “This was supposed to be a fun vlog.” He went on to make several unfunny remarks about the victim, while wearing a fluffy green hat.

Within a day, over 6 million people viewed the footage, while Twitterverse started to flood with outrage. Surprisingly, even though the video violated YouTube’s community standards, it was Logan who eventually deleted it.

He then posted an apology, saying, “I should have never posted the video, I should have put the cameras down. I’ve made a huge mistake, I don’t expect to be forgiven. The goal with my content is always to entertain, to push the boundaries, to be all inclusive,” Paul says in the so-called apology video, where he claims he “didn’t do it for views” but rather wanted to raise awareness for suicide and suicide prevention.

I’ve actually never heard of Logan Paul prior to this controversy, but my 11-year-old nephew Calvin says he knows him, but isn’t subscribed to his channel.

Logan’s claim to fame is being one (if not) the fastest YouTuber to reach 15 million subscribers. His early posts were a mix of goofy videos you’d come to expect from a young guy (he’s just 22 years old), mostly involving physical comedy like slipping on a banana peel, twerking in a space suit, and making those splits in popular destinations.

But with his meteoric rise to Internet stardom, filling malls with hordes of his “Logang” followers, he’s used his popularity and stunts to launch his own clothing line, called Maverick; create music, appear on several TV shows and win some Teen Choice awards along the way.

In his 2017 year-end video, Logan shows off the fruits of his YouTube labors, including a $6.5-million mansion, a big Mercedes Truck he calls the “Yeti,” a “Cool (School) Bus” and a lot of other stuff.  Logan has also been featured in mainstream publications, such as Wired, Adweek and Business Insider, where he often talked about his aspirations for fame. “I want to be a pioneer. I want to be one of the first digital stars to make the transition to traditional media. To be the biggest entertainer on the planet.”

His quest to entertain, however, has often led to a lot of recklessness, and this is not the first time Logan and his more controversial brother, Jake Paul, have been bashed and criticized for their stunts.

But his latest video has got to be the most appalling, not only because it involves suicide, but also because of the effect it could have on his mostly young fans, which are more influenced by social-media stars than traditional celebrities or media. It highlights the carelessness of online celebrity in the YouTube era.

Which leads me to the question, why can’t YouTube assign someone to monitor the videos of each of their most popular content creators. With the profits they are raking in from their videos, I’m pretty sure they could require, or hire someone to make sure their “celebrities” strictly comply to their rules and regulations, instead of relying on some artificial intelligence and tick boxes. YouTube takes 45 percent of the advertising money generated via Paul and every other creator’s videos, and Logan could make as much as $14 million per year, according to Social Blade.

Just like Hollywood stars who have “managers” and public-relations people to guide them, or journalists who have editors to make them follow strict editorial and ethical guidelines, I think it’s time to require YouTube to assign a representative to each of their most famous YouTubers and make them more accountable—kind of like an authority figure who’d check and manage their content—not to dictate and destroy their authenticity—but to make sure they stay in line. Because I think demonetizing or just deleting content and issuing a social apology won’t be enough to teach them a lesson.

The question now is, “Does it mean that Logan Paul is finished, or will this just make him an even bigger star?”  With the way things are going in the world, I’m betting on the latter. Black Mirror is quickly becoming a reality.

 

/ Tech Thoughts: “Again the greatest use of a human was to be useful. Not to consume, not to watch, but to do something for someone else that improved their life, even for a few minutes.” Dave Eggers, A Hologram for the King

 

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Turning Points 2018