Who is Logan Paul and why should I care?
If you are a parent of a tween or teenager, you’re going to want to know if you don’t already.
The 22-year-old is one of the world’s biggest social media stars who has more than 15 million subscribers on his popular YouTube channel. The vlogger is popular with youngsters; my 13-year-old is a fan, as are many of his peers.
Recently, the YouTuber shared a video where he discovered a corpse of a suicide victim in Japan’s Aokigahara forest, and then laughed about it.
“Bro, did we just find a dead person in the suicide forest?” he says in the now-deleted video.
Paul uploaded the video which was seen by six million of his fans, mostly young ones. Paul deleted the video less than 24 hours after it appeared on his channel, but the video had been accepted by YouTube’s reviewers, even though it had been flagged by viewers.
But six million people had already seen the video – six million mostly young, impressionable people. These youngsters watch Paul and his friends who joked about finding a dead person, rather than showing empathy and sorrow. The deceased man took his own life; to post this anywhere, even though he face had been blurred, is disgusting and immoral.
Paul and his group showed complete disrespect to the man and his family. There was also no thought of how publishing the video would affect his fans, again mostly young people.
Showing suicide in this manner, including sensationalizing such a tragedy, was irresponsible and potentially dangerous. Suicides have become the second-leading cause of death among teenagers in the United States.
Do we want our kids to grow up being completely desensitized to death and tragedy? No… our hope is to have children who value and appreciate life, and can show empathy and kindness. Teaching empathy to children is one of the most important lessons parents can give. We can encourage older children to more actively put themselves in other people’s shoes.
We can help them understand how others may feel in actual situations, but also hypothetical scenarios too. “How would that make you feel”? and “Put yourself in his/her shoes – what would you be feeling?” are simple ways to help practice understanding and empathy for others.
Suicide should never be funny, especially in a video that teenagers would be watching. Paul faced global backlash and criticism, forcing him to issue an emotional apology for showing the video.
“The reactions that you saw on tape were raw, unfiltered,” Paul said. “None of us knew how to act or feel. I should have never posted the video, I should have put the cameras down and stopped recording what we were going through. There were a lot of things I should have done differently, but I didn’t. And for that, from the bottom of my heart, I am sorry.”
He then announced on Twitter that he would step back from YouTube to reflect on everything that has happened over the past few days. Unfortunately, the apology comes a little too late for many.