Couch Guy: why people are watching

shame as a tool

couch guyAs is often the case, my daughter says to me something that just doesn’t register. A few days ago, she asked “Have you heard about Couch Guy?” It is her apparent obligation to keep me up to date on cultural trends. I had no idea what/who she was talking about.

If you go on Yahoo, you can type in Couch Guy Tiktok and find the video; it’s less than a minute. It is ostensibly about a young woman surprising her long-distance boyfriend. What it became is what NBC News suggested how internet sleuthing can be toxic.

“The video, posted Sept. 21 by Lauren Zarras, shows her boyfriend, Robbie…surrounded by friends and sitting on a couch next to three other women.

“Many of the people who have commented on the video.. suggested that Robbie was, in fact, not happy to see Zarras. Some went so far as to accuse him of being unfaithful to her. Not long after it went viral, TikTokers began meticulously combing through the video…”

My first position was to be the grumpy old man and think, “Why should anyone care about this?” But as someone who recognizes that how people communicate matters, I found myself utterly fascinated. Not by Robbie, the couch guy, for whom I feel bad that people find the need to so scrutinize ten seconds of his life.

Now some folks – I found several examples that won’t bother linking to – who ‘analyzed” the video out the sense that it was hot copy, even though they thought it was a lame narrative.

However, this phenomenon – I have to say obsession – provides some odd validation for these online sleuths. Indeed, for those who have rooted out racism and violence, e.g., that is an accomplishment.

Conversely

The NBC piece discussed Morgan Forte, 23, who has “experienced what happens when it feels as though the internet has collectively decided to pick apart your life based on a seconds-long clip.

“Forte, of Jacksonville, Florida, said she posted a short video of her parents dancing a few years ago. Some claimed that Forte’s mother was acting grumpy in the clip.

“When the video blew up, getting about 15 million views across accounts that had shared it, some commenters began saying Forte’s father should leave her mother because of her demeanor in the video.” As they say, OMG.

Experienced

Producer and activist Monica Lewinsky – yes, that Monica Lewinsky – is an anti-bullying advocate. She has produced a movie called 15 Minutes of Shame which she discussed recently on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.

As Rolling Stone quoted her, “’One of the factors in the film is around the idea of how shame has been used since the beginning of time as a social tool.’ With the onset of the internet and tabloid culture — the problem worsened.”

John Della Volpe reported on new polling:

1) Nearly 2/3 of Americans who use platforms believe life was better without them.
2) 42% of #GenZ addicted, can’t stop if they tried.

It’s useless to rant, “You kids, don’t you have better things to do?” For many of them, the answer is no.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

One thought on “Couch Guy: why people are watching”

  1. All three scenarios are striking. I remember how much better I felt after quitting Facebook. My anxiety level went down by quite a lot. Same with Twitter.

    I do have a small presence on FB, but only to post for the church. I don’t have “friends,” even Luka. Not even Lex!

    The pressure young people feel these days? Social media are like self-harm on steroids. You can harm yourself mentally, and it hurts as much as cutting. Plus you don’t have scars that “show.” It’s really awful. I have a friend whose grandchildren will spend all their time on their screens. I asked her why she doesn’t just take the devices away while they are at her house. “I tried, but they were having tantrums, even the 12-year-old. Then I told their mom, and instead of scolding the kids, she scolded me for being mean to them.” My friend is now in that tricky situation of having to choose between what’s best for the grandkids and perhaps being deprived of them visiting at all.

    Social media all suck. But blogging, well, that’s different!

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