Social worker Wong Ying Li, who heads the youth and community mental health departments at the Fei Yue social services agency, agrees.
“Attention via notoriety could be a motivator,” she says.
“For those uploading videos – and it may not be young people who have been involved in the physically violent behavior – social media provides immediate gratification and fulfills young people’s need for recognition and achievement.”
‘I’M NOT SO CUTE’
Sociologist Omer Ali Saifudeen of the Singapore University of Social Sciences notes that such behavior occurs in the context of an already “readily available” spectacle of online violence.
He cites people like terrorist Brenton Tarrant, who in 2019 live-streamed his murder of 51 people at two New Zealand mosques.
People are becoming increasingly desensitized and there is the danger that this “sets the standards in terms of norms and values of what is good”, says Dr Omer.
Lying on an appetite to capture and broadcast incidents of violence in hopes of gaining virality, the act takes on a life of its own, with an added dimension of ‘broadcasting’ power over a victim.
“So the next time you feel like someone needs a lesson, you film it, and you’ll be celebrated for it… That kind of message increases,” adds Dr. Omer.
“We never quite got past our own schadenfreude. We never quite got out of the Colosseum,” explains the speaker.
He was referring to the historic Roman amphitheater known for its gladiator fights and other public spectacles.
CNA asked tech companies Twitter, TikTok and Meta – parent of Facebook and Instagram – for information and statistics related to content on their platforms depicting youth violence. All declined to comment.