Youtube trend shows the "ugly" side of anonymity

Cinnamon Challenge,” “My Drunk Kitchen,” “Planking”: The weirdly funny trends on YouTube are limitless, with some continuously gaining popularity and others quickly fizzling out. Sometimes the ridiculous comments posted within the unrelenting debates consuming YouTube make us laugh, but when it comes to personal attacks the humor quickly dissipates.

We have all seen nasty comments splattered throughout posts, yet a type of video has taken this to a whole new level – the “Am I Ugly” trend. This trend needs to be taken seriously for it highlights multiple problems kids are facing today.

Young girls, and some boys as young as 10, are posting videos asking people to judge their attractiveness. Responses range from positive and uplifting to horrific and sadistic. Sadly, the latter seems to be the most common. There is nothing funny about people making fun of kids; many of these videos are posted by girls 10 years old and up – an incredibly vulnerable age.

Anonymity makes it even easier for people to attack others. These kids are opening themselves up to the entire online community and people are jumping on the chance to attack others without any fear of repercussion. Cyberbullying allows for atrocious things to be said to these kids, some even go as far as telling the child to end his or her life. One can only wonder if a person would be able to say it to the child’s face if the opportunity ever arose. My guess is no.

With these videos comes the question, “Why?” Why do these girls feel the need to ask such a question? The answer isn’t simple; there are various reasons and possibilities. There is the media’s Photoshopped idea of beauty that surrounds all of us, a falsified symbol of perfection that is expected and yearned for by real people. In many of the videos, girls say that they have been called ugly in school. There are multiple sources of pressure and these sources – not only the videos – need to be addressed.

This trend cannot be brushed aside, for it is a reflection of multiple societal issues such as bullying, the pressure on girls and boys to be perfect and the need to fit in with the status quo. Our society is image-obsessed and until this obsession is addressed and fixed, videos such as these will continue to crop up.

YouTube has not talked about the “Am I Pretty/Ugly?” controversy specifically, but did issue a statement advising parents to visit the site’s safety center for tips on how to protect their kids online. Though this is a valid point, it’s also important to realize that in this day and age the Internet is incredibly accessible – kids have phones, laptops and school computers, not to mention the ability to use a friend’s device.

In order to prevent such a trend from gaining popularity, support needs to come from all sides. Parents, teachers, friends and companies such as YouTube need to send out a clear message: No one has the right to judge another person based on appearance. The importance should be placed on inner beauty, personality and personal achievements, not video.

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