A Singapore teen has died after attempting a risky stunt at a mall for a video that he hoped to post on Snapchat.
Johnathan Chow was shopping for clothes at the mall with a friend, who would only identify herself as Ruth, when he got the idea to jump over a railing while she recorded it for Snapchat. The 17-year-old planned to land on a ledge below that he thought was made of concrete, but when he jumped, he plunged right through what turned out to be plasterboard, falling four floors to his death.
While this story is tragic, Chow is hardly the only teen to die needlessly while trying to look cool on the internet. Just last month, 21-year-old Rachael Louise De Jong died in New Zealand after being swept away while attempting to take a photo of herself with a selfie stick when the Aratiata floodgates opened on the Waikato River, ignoring a five-minute warning siren. Three friends who were also trying to photograph themselves in the dangerous conditions were initially washed away but eventually made it to safety.
There are countless other tales of similar stupidity. Three 20-year-old students died in India while trying to “play daredevil” with an oncoming train in hopes of racking up “likes” on social media, and a 21-year-old man accidentally shot himself in the head in Mexico while trying to take a selfie with a gun. Two Russian teens who had the brilliant idea of photographing themselves with a live grenade blew themselves up, and a 17-year-old Russian died while trying to get a shot of himself appearing to fall off a nine-story building.
It’s not just people who are losing their lives in the quest to get the ultimate photo. Last year, there were three known animal deaths in just one month connected to social media photos. These cases involved tourists pulling the animals out of the water – a shark, a dolphin, and a swan, in three separate incidents – and photographing themselves with them, then leaving them there to die after getting the perfect shot.
According to statistics from Pricenomics, a total of 49 people died between 2014 and 2016 trying to take a selfie; 16 died falling off a tall building or cliff while attempting to take a selfie, while 14 drowned. The average victim is 21 years old, and three fourths of them are male. Even though women tend to take more selfies, men are more likely to lose their lives doing so.
Research from Ohio State University discovered that men who post frequent selfies, particularly those who edit them to improve their appearance, have higher scores in personality tests for traits like psychopathy and narcissism. These individuals are willing to overlook any danger in their quest to gain attention and validation from others.
Teenagers are no strangers to risky behavior; it’s practically a rite of passage. However, the stakes are a lot higher now with social media and the internet around to record every single misstep, and the desire to “go viral” is also causing risk-takers to push the boundaries as far as they can.
The rise in social media is creating a self-obsessed society. While men account for the bulk of the risk-takers, women are also suffering ill effects from social media, such as negative perceptions of their appearance that spur eating disorders and risky cosmetic procedures. A comprehensive report on the effects of using Facebook discovered that its users are prone to developing feelings of misery, envy, and despair, destroying the self-satisfaction they have with their lives. While the internet has brought about many positive developments for society, social media is not one of them.