"Cvlt Collective" is a series of articles written by Soulless writer Bobby Cvlt where it is more of an opinion/editorial style article as opposed to the more standard types of articles published here at Soulless. The views expressed therein are solely that of Bobby Cvlt and does not reflect the opinion of anyone else at Soulless Cult.
You've no doubt seen it in the news, especially lately: death, live streamed in all its glory through social media. As time goes on, more and more death-related incidents are being streamed through platforms such as Facebook Live and it has been causing an uproar in the online community. Just off the top of my head, I can think of a handful: a man who was shot by police and died while his wife was live, a teenage girl who hanged herself while streaming, a killer who shot an innocent elderly man while broadcasting to his friends, and the one that literally happened just yesterday: a man who killed his infant daughter and then himself. And he did the whole thing while connected and streaming through Facebook Live. Death is now easily accessible for all to see through our feeds - how fucking horrifying is that thought?
While I'm not friends with any of those people on any social media platforms, I had no issue finding links to three of the four videos I just mentioned. Literally within minutes, I had the ending to someones life in the palm of my hand to play on repeat. That's the thing about this crazy Internet thing: this stuff literally lives forever on here. While the original videos had all been removed by the services, there are copies floating all around the Internet for anybody to see, download, and save. And if you've gone that far and actually saved it - it's in your collection eternally. You have someones death at your disposal to play over and over again.
I'll be 100% honest with you - like I said, I've seen 3 of the 4 videos I mentioned earlier of people dying on camera. But I'll also admit that I've seen more - way more. Suicides, war-aftermath, and just straight up violence: these videos are not hard to find online these days. I've shared this information with people I've met over the years to mixed reactions; some people think I'm mentally fucked up to watch these types of videos, while others aren't as phased by it. But the difference between those types of videos and what we're beginning to see an increase in is that often, those other videos are shot by other people or stationary cameras such as security cameras and whatnot. So people who view the videos are seeing the events after the fact, while it's all over and often time has passed. But these new social media suicides and murders are fucking happening while you're watching (assuming you're not watching a copy posted afterwards). Imagine logging on to Facebook to see the funny dog picture your college friend Bill posted and before you know it, one of your other friends has a gun to his head and the camera facing right at him. He can see you are there, he can read what you write. Suddenly, you could possibly be the last person this person thinks of before they pull that trigger. Or on a better note, hopefully you can try and help them and talk them down from the situation. This has become the crazy reality for many people who were friends with these people on social media and ended up on these types of streams. Death is being broadcasted right to your device, live and uncensored. It's crazy to think about.
The question that has been in my head all day is simply: why? Why stream it? What exactly is these peoples thought process as they boot up their cellphones and begin streaming before these types of situations go down? Is it their way of seeking help? Or is there some sort of thrill to the audience knowing people will see? Do they think they will live in infamy knowing the videos will live forever online? I'm not, at all, trying to say that these people are only doing it for the attention, please don't get me wrong. While I am sure that is the case for many of these cases, I really don't think it's the case for every one. But that's the question myself and so many others are wondering... just, why? I can't seem to get my head around it and it's just been mentally fucking me lately.
And what about you? Hypothetically speaking, if the situation I just wrote about actually happened to you - you signed on to a social media site where one of your friends is livestreaming and about to do something serious, what would you do? Could you handle sitting there chatting with them trying to talk them down and make sure the situation doesn't escalate? Or does the mere thought of that freak you out, reassuring you you would close the website before you see anything you don't want to see? It's okay to be honest with yourself - not everybody is in a situation mentally where they could possibly have to sit there and talk down a suicidal friend through a website. Truth is, this is something that wasn't even thought about until recently... none of us grew up thinking this was going to be a thing. But the reality of it is that it now is a thing, and I think it's something we should start talking about. Maybe it's time we open up the discussion about social media death and what exactly to do if you find yourself on EITHER side of the camera.
What about the services that these types of events are happening on? These live-streaming platforms are everywhere now - every mainstream social media service now offers a way to "go live" and broadcast yourself to the world. While many of these situations are taking place via Facebook Live, this craze is definitely not exclusive to it at all: these deaths can and are occurring across various social media platforms. After doing some research about these situations, I've noticed a lot of people putting blame on the service for not only allowing this to happen but for allowing the archived video to be online. What responsibility, if any, do these companies have in the broadcasting of crime and death through their service? What role and responsibility do they have in making sure these situations aren't broadcasted, and if they are, what can the innocent viewers do? Do they create a button exclusively to be used to report a crime that is in progress? Or a phone number to call? Of course, the first thing you should think to do is call the police department as this is going down, but then what? Should the viewers be able to cut the feed before the serious shit happens? Is it possible that without a crowd... the serious shit wouldn't happen at all? This is the type of stuff I can't help but think about, and honestly I don't have answers for. I think this is a conversation people from multiple fields needs to sit down and have; suicide prevention teams, social media programmers, and law enforcement, for example, would need to work together to figure out how to best combat these occurrences. But honestly, it still feels like we are far from having this conversation, and that scares me because of the growing rate these situations are happening at. I fear more lives are going to be lost while the camera is on and the views are pouring in.
I don't have answers for anyone. I just wanted to get these thoughts out, as they've been bothering me since the first live-streamed suicide I watched. Those videos are absolutely haunting and hard to get out of your head after seeing them; but the underlying thoughts these people had leading up to their stream has me obsessed. I'm not sure we will ever actually know - I don't think it's something we could ever find out. But we absolutely need to figure this growing phenomenon out, before more innocent people on both ends of the camera get hurt.