How the stupid claw their way to Internet stardom

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WHILE the Internet has allowed for the free sharing of information, much of the “information” being shared online today, especially via social media websites, can be categorized in the pointless category.

Videos of pranks, Internet memes and photo-shopped images provide cheap, offbeat entertainment for users all over the world. Often, people who star in such videos become famous if enough people like or share them.

Out of desperation for Internet stardom and bragging rights to the next viral video, many people are involved in a seemingly never-ending cycle of creating the next pointless video. Al-Riyadh daily reports on how the trend affects Saudi Internet users and what experts have to say.

Dr. Ahmad Al-Twaijri, deputy dean of the School of Arts, Qassim University, did not mince his words when talking about the trend.

“Stupid people and their stupid videos threaten the social fabric of society. We should not circulate their videos or follow them on Twitter and other social media websites. These are trivial people who will do anything for fame,” he said.

But despite his strong distaste for such videos, Al-Twaijri admitted part of the problem was that there is a sizeable audience for mindless entertainment. He suggested writers, new media experts, academics, mosque imams and Dawa activists form a group and study online viewing habits so they can pinpoint the reasons why people find these videos amusing.

Citizen Fahd Al-Awadh believes the majority of the so-called funny videos being circulated on social media websites are trivial and far away from being amusing, reason enough to warrant a ban.

“Sadly, some of these people are sponsored by official institutions as if these institutions directly encourage foolish behavior. These videos should be banned and official institutions should stop sponsoring this culture,” he said.

Fatimah Al-Jofan, a public relations officer, said changes in Saudi society were to blame for the culture of viewing such videos.

“Our ethics must have taken a downward spiral for how else can we explain how such cheap videos have become hits on social media websites? I think the media should be blamed completely for helping those idiots become famous,” she said.

According to new media expert Salih Al-Turaiqi, it is perfectly normal for young people to go to extremes, no matter how stupid they may look, just to get attention and admiration. The problem, according to Al-Turaiqi, is not with the people making such videos but with an education system that does little to guide youth and help them develop their skills.

“We need to be productive and focus on improving our society. I believe the current education system does not make the best of youth’s capabilities and does not guide them on how to make advantage of their time,” he said.

Al-Turaiqi called on families to enroll their children in courses on how to manage their time effectively and on schools to engage students in community service programs.

“Students should be taught how to conduct a study and research a certain topic and spend more time in the library instead of wasting their time in trivial activities. Volunteer work at Civil Defense, Red Crescent, etc., should be encouraged and youth should be attracted to such work,” he added.


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