Opinion by: Norbu L.
Edited by: Sacha B.
Graphic by: Erica N.
The internet is an integral part of the modern person’s everyday life which is what makes it such a dangerous weapon. Personal information, locations, event details and images – all accessible by the click of a button. The risks of social media are not an unknown phrase to many, and the exploitation of it runs rampant in the present. Cyberbullying and false news are highly disputed topics with black and white consensuses. However one method of misuse remains relatively undiscussed: the overexposure of criminals in publications.
In the past couple of weeks, Shane Dawson’s Investigating Conspiracies with Shane Dawson video has garnered over 22 million views. The most juicy story that sparked the most public interest was the one of the youtuber Brittani Louise Taylor, and her abusive relationship.
To briefly summarize, Shane recalls his close relationship with his former friend and coworker, Brittani, coming to an abrupt end when a man named Milos Mihajlovic entered her life. The two very quickly settle down to have a child and get married without much of an explanation. Later on, it is revealed that Milos made Britanni participate in unprotected consummation and told her she wouldn’t get pregnant, however she would end up 9 months later with a child and unwanted relationship. Throughout their relationship, Britanni becomes more suspicious of him and finds that he is not who he says he is. With an oddly overbearing mother, and other girls confronting her about his strangeness, Britanni was convinced to leave him.
In the aftermath of her relationship, she decided to journal all her feelings and thoughts in a book as well as being featured in Shane’s video. She discusses the disturbing idea, presented by the police, that Milos and his mother were planning to traffic herself and their child, Rex, after immigrating to Serbia. These events were massively publicized through various publications, including Brittani’s biography A Sucky Love Story, which became a bestseller.
During Shane Dawson’s video, he brings up a very important point about the situation which is that Milos knowingly started this type of relationship with a youtuber. He questions whether Milos intentionally dated a famous youtuber, with the purpose of collecting attention.
In my opinion, this is undoubtedly the intent. It is too much of a coincidence that Britanni’s entire youtube channel had transformed into a family vlogging channel once her marriage began. He would also insert himself into every video and be in multiple thumbnails throughout her vlogs. Even to this day, reports of his abuse and current life continues to flood media. His face is plastered on countless articles and pages which clearly shows that if his goal was to become infamous; it worked.
This is an issue that has always been prevalent as the overemphasis on criminals rather than the victims gives the perpetrators exactly what they want – attention. Murderers are a group of offenders that have an especially morbid amount of interest directed to. The names Ted Bundy, Jack the Ripper, or the Zodiac Killer are unfamiliar to few; however if we were to ask who Margaret Bowman or Lisa Levy were, the answer would be silence. These are the victims of the murders who will go on to be forgotten and unnoticed, whereas the reputation of their killers will thrive.
Viewers even go as far as to romanticize these disgusting felons and create fanfiction or edits of them. This clearly exposes the toxicity that exists in the online community as people who are famous for horrible acts are undeservingly glorified. The best possible solution would be to at least remove the images of the criminals from online news sources when they publish a story, as well as asking the victims families if they want the names to be printed. Obviously this situation would differ if it were an ongoing investigation where more evidence is required from the public or the criminal is on the loose.
If there’s anything to take away from this recent event, it is to protect yourself. You wouldn’t want to be on the headlines for the next missing girl, or to see your kidnapper’s face all over the news. Be safe. Be respectful. Be responsible.