Traumatainment Traumatic videos which we find entertaining are all over social mediaScreen-grab of video of bike stunt gone wrong
Features Saturday, June 04, 2016 - 18:47

When a video of the Cincinnati zoo killing a rare gorilla to save a four-year-old boy who stumbled in  surfaced on social media, it created a lot of hue and cry worldwide. People blamed the parents of the young toddler and the ‘irresponsible’ zoo authorities.

This has not been the only video to emerge on these lines. Social media has seen innumerable videos and stories involving traumatic and shocking experiences time and again. And every single time, facebookers and tweeple go crazy over these visuals without fail, spewing opinions and knee jerk responses as they divide themselves over the story in question.

While the international media has termed these viral videos ‘traumatainment’, we Indians have been subjected to this form of entertainment for a long time. Right from the masala movies we watch, to the routine melodramatic serials that grace our television sets, we have been at the receiving end of ‘traumatainment’ in every form possible.

But with the advent of social media, traumatainment has been inching closer to users, via mobile phones and tablets. Be it ‘White Tiger attacks and kills man in Delhi Zoo’ or ‘Daughter-in-law manhandles aged mother-in-law’, these videos have garnered more than a million views; going viral in a matter of few hours.

Chennai-based psychiatrist Dr. S. Mohanraj pins the viral nature of traumatainment on a base human tendency- curiosity. “People have always been curious. When they see blood and gore unfold, and they realize that it is real and not staged like in the movies, they want to know how it happened,” he says.

The pace at which technology has become a mainstay in our lives has had a major role in making traumatainment a viral phenomenon. The combination of security cameras and social media has contributed primarily in catapulting this phenomenon, as well. “Security cameras provide people with information that they’ve only heard of before, and not seen. When this footage is uploaded on social media, it is immediately viewed and shared,” says Dr. Mohanraj.

Also, it doesn’t help that social media access is free and unlimited. “If users had to spend for whatever content is sent, then they would only send what is absolutely essential,”he adds. But there are no filters or stringent enough safeguards.

The excessive trend of sharing and unnatural virality of content has ultimately made users less sensitive to issues. As more and more content of this sort goes viral, it almost becomes a norm for the society, fears Chennai based psychiatrist Dr. Aparna. “The threshold for violence and shock comes down, especially in children. After a point, they are okay with whatever happens, how ever shocking it may be,” she says.

And she might just be right. Where last week was about the ‘Drunk man tries to shake hands with lion in Hyderabad zoo’, this week is about a ‘Man whirling a baby for more than five seconds’. And whatever happened to the family of that fateful couple who crashed to their death while making a grand appearance in a crane on their wedding, last year? Nobody knows.

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