Act a fool on the internet and the internet will make you feel foolish.

Watch out for #StarbucksDrakeHands, which just might be the new internet meme craze sweeping social right now. Apparently, some Rico Suave barrista named Brody sent the world’s lamest selfie video [which is even more faux pas than the egocentric selfie] to one Piper Kennedy, a model up in LA. One of Piper’s friends must have seen the tremendous comical potential of the video and posted it to Instagram. The results are internet infamy. It’s unclear yet the aftermath on the barrista’s life, but the video has already spawned countless parodies mimicking the original’s seductive stare and facial caresses to the backdrop of Drake’s song, “Hold On, We’re Going Home.”

This situation is quite interesting, though. 10+ years ago, one could do something a little silly [or douche-baggy] and not suffer nation-wide public humiliation [unless you’re Ghyslain Raza, AKA Star Wars Kid. A rare case for 2003]. Sure you might be ridiculed amongst friends or peers, but generally our missteps went largely forgotten. Unless you peed your pants. People don’t forget.

There are quite a few cases where someone’s picture or video goes viral, usually to the detriment of the person involved. Look again at Star Wars Kid and the torment he suffered, or Techno Viking, who pretends he was wronged and seeks compensation for his mighty visage. There was also this Australian kid who received some really nasty taunts and death threats after a video of his attempted bullying went viral.

I’m not going to say that these memes and viral videos/photos aren’t entertaining. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be viral. But they can be extremely damaging for so many reasons. Public humiliation can be absolutely devastating. Imagine a time when you were embarrassed in public, then multiply that by thousands, even millions. Imagine that you made some silly mistake and people wanted you to die because of it. How would that make you feel? Sadly, the internet takes a lot of the humanity out of interaction, and the anonymity allows people to be, well…dickish. How else can you explain why a grown adult would tell a 15 year old kid to end his own life?

Of course, there are also many stories of viral photos and videos bringing a lot of good into people’s lives. So where’s the balance? Do we take the good with the bad? Is there any way to control it? On top of that, how wary to do we have to be around smartphones and cameras for fear of ending up as the butt of an internet-wide joke?

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