Well, I am happy/embarrassed/relieved to tell you that all is not as it seems. What I thought was just a stunt by a young kid (whose name is not Eric Douglace) to make random threats turns out to be a cleverly-executed prank designed to test the reactionary nature of YouTube commenters.
I know this because he saw the post on our blog and sent us a comment with his reaction to the piece. Here is the full text of what he had to say:
Look, this is the kid who made the above videos. I’m not sure if you’ll ever see this, but judging by the profuse amount of time you’ve taken out of your schedule to write the above article, I feel I have an obligation to respond. I must add that what you’ve managed to concoct is an excellent, well-written recap of the entire situation with superb, though slightly misguided, commentary. However, with compliments come criticism. So here goes, my friend.
Seeing you, what appears to be an intelligent human, fall for such blatant trickery is actually quite amusing. You surely show some level of logical thinking, having, of course, pointed out two things: i) international intelligence agencies simply wouldn’t succumb to my alleged desires to hack Justin Bieber websites as they have other tasks of a higher priority, ii) my plans weren’t feasible: the FFC clearly wouldn’t allow me to use their resources to achieve my alleged aspirations, them being, of course, wanting to hack Justin Bieber haters. Now, I feel the urge to mention that it’s easy to point out the obvious. Too easy. You forgot to mention that the FFC doesn’t have any control over the internet. In fact, most of their operations are devoted to regulating traditional communications such as print, television and radio. (Side note: Take that back. The FFC plans to regulate internet traffic – but those plans, so far as I’m aware, have yet to be enacted – and net neutrality was certainly not enacted at the time I made my videos – I’m not sure if it currently is, either).
Another point: LifeInATent really didn’t mean what he said; the only incentives for him to respond to my videos were subscribers, view and money – all he really cared about. I knew him. He knew I was trolling. We spoke several times. He shocked me with some of the videos he made – videos that were quite gory. Disgusting, too. As soon as I was exposed to the real LifeInATent, I abstained from communicating with him. Then I travelled overseas temporarily, cutting the communication between him and myself. Now the actions of LifeInATent scare me. I don’t know why. I lose sleep thinking about him and his actions: how could he be so stupid as to send death threats, encourage violence over the internet? It’s really quite sickening knowing that a 26 year old adult, with devoted followers, can possibly do this.
Anyway, back to my point: the entire thing was planned – step by step – by jacksfilms1 and I, ericDouglace. It was a deliberate attempt to prove just how gullible and easily manipulated the YouTube community is. Not only did we succeed, greatly, but we evoked a response from several other large YouTubers, were featured on several news sites, etc. Being only 14 years old at the time, it was quite fun. Very fun, that is. Almost too fun. The whole experience gave me an adrenaline rush which triggered a feeling beyond anything I’ve ever experienced. It was like a drug. Knowing that the entire worlds’ eyes are fixed on you is quite chilling yet gratifying: you’re scared, but you feel amazing and have a warm feeling in your chest. It’s not to say that I was pleased with what I did. Of course, making the videos and tricking people was fun; however, the things that happened behind the scenes is what I regret. I offended some people with personal messages and allowed others to send obscene messages from my account. I’ve apologized to the parties I’ve offended to the best of my ability. Saying this, I still think Justin Bieber haters are baboons. Actually, take that back. Calling Justin Bieber-haters ‘baboons’ is a disservice to sane baboons. They’re less than that. And I’m being serious: Here you have a plethora of lunatics – lemmings is a better word – devoting too much time, a scarce resource, to disliking Justin Bieber videos. As I scour the internet, the amount of images and videos made with the purpose of spreading hate about Bieber is overwhelming. I mean, this stuff is in excess: it’s all around the internet. I honestly don’t know how Justin Bieber can put up with such nonsense. I saw the hate directed toward Justin Bieber as a pretext for my actions. Put simply, I wanted to put Bieber’s haters in their place. I wanted to show how stupid they were. I wanted to expose them, and boy, did my friend and I succeed. I’ve noticed that hate directed toward Justin Bieber – and similar musicians – has greatly declined ever since my ‘stunt’ was revealed for what it was. Did I embarrass Justin Bieber’s haters? It’s hard to believe I did, but we can always theorize.
There was another comment written in this blog-post that I feel obliged to address: the allegation that I ‘like’ Ron Paul. Of course, this, as with most of my other claims, is complete bullshit. I consider Ron Paul a traitor to his own country. Furthermore, I despise his followers, most of whom happen to be neo-Nazis, homophobes, racists, anti-Semites, and conspiracy theorists. Being somebody with family members affected by the holocaust, I feel rather displeased with this allegation – hence why I’m addressing it. Although Ron Paul has changed many of his positions since the 2008 election (for the better, of course), I still do not support him because of his ridiculous foreign policy that goes as far as to border on delusional and his economic policies which are completely misguided and oblivious to the basic lessons of history. Too, he seems to have sympathy for the ‘blame America first crowd’; such people (a.k.a. Noam Chomsky, Finkelstein) have serious problems and fail to research without bias. Moving on, here’s a lesson: If you want to be hated by the masses, associate with everything the masses hate. It’s an easy way to get negative publicity. I am pleased you picked up on this, however. I was wondering why nobody said anything about the videos I favorited. Obviously, you have quite a keen, observant eye. But it’s easy to say things from observations taken out of context. Just thought I’d point it out.
If you don’t believe this is me, by the way, simply message me at my new YouTube channel (thegeneraltheory) and I’ll confirm things. If you visit the channel you will see I’ve grown, have a deeper voice, shaper cheek-bones, a nice (and remarkably sexy) moustache, and am clearly more mature. I’d be more than willing to address any of your concerns with this post. You seem like a remarkably intelligent guy, and I’d like to thank and, at the same time make fun of you, for writing this post. It certainly appealed to me. And, as I previously stated, it’s remarkably well-written. So well-written that I think you deserve a job at a mainstream news website: perhaps CNN or WSJ? Anyway, I’ll shut up. This is probably the longest, cockiest, most arrogant comment you have received on your blog. As I said, I’ll shut up now. And I haven’t edited this post, by the way, so if there’s any errors, ignore them.
So… yeah. Credit to both “Eric” and fellow YouTube user jacksfilms1 for punking the entire internet with this prank. You can click here to see the video he posted on YouTube from his new account explaining everything.
This is, quite possibly, the greatest publicity hoax since the days of Andy Kaufman. I guess the reason I fell for it is that in this day and age, it’s become harder and harder to separate the satire from the real thing because how much of a joke reality can be. Last year I discovered a blog (that shall remain namelss) that was simply insane and appealed to a very core group of radical ideologues, and I believed it was a legitimate political website. A few months later I found out it was an elaborate hoax. And yet, people fall for these things every day.
One of the reasons The Onion is so entertaining is because how eerily similar their comedy posts are to actual articles from legitimate news sites. That’s why I’m such a big fan of the Tumblr “Literally Unbelievable,” a blog that lists people’s hilariously boneheaded reactions to Onion articles. When most of us see the headline “China Agrees To Erase Portion Of U.S. Debt If Americans Dress Up In Costumes And Perform Silly Dance,” we understand it’s a joke. Some people don’t. And their righteous indignation is so misplaced, it’s just laugh-out-loud funny.
The news itself has become so absurd, there is another Tumblr blog dedicated entirely to headlines that look like they’re from the Onion: “Onion-Like.” In a world where Oprah fans can be considered a religious cult and entertainers do whatever outlandish nonsense they can think of to attract headlines, the Onion merely takes what we already think about popular subjects and strings them out to their absurdly logical conclusions.
Political satirist Andy Borowitz writes a joke article about Pat Robertson blaming snowstorms on gay people, Yahoo! News thinks it’s real and sources it.
Now, true to form, I’d like to go back and couple the lengthy response above with my own brand of award-winning (ATV award, but still) commentary.
I’m not sure if you’ll ever see this, but judging by the profuse amount of time you’ve taken out of your schedule to write the above article…
Nah, not that much time. Posts where I don’t need to bother researching (in retrospect, not the best idea for this one) take very little time out of my schedule. I just begin with a weird thing I’ve seen on the internet and then let my random stream of consciousness do the rest. Posts like last week’s Hacktivism series take a while, but venting on an internet video? I phone that crap in. (He said while privately LOLing to himself.)
Now the actions of LifeInATent scare me. I don’t know why. I lose sleep thinking about him and his actions: how could he be so stupid as to send death threats, encourage violence over the internet? It’s really quite sickening knowing that a 26 year old adult, with devoted followers, can possibly do this.
I’ve been pretty consistent in saying that sending death threats and harassing people on the internet is stupid and wrong. And according to YouTube, LifeInATent’s account has been terminated for “repeated or severe violations of our Community Guidelines and/or claims of copyright infringement.”
Imma go with the first one. And because this is the internet, Urban Dictionary has its own definition for LifeInATent. Here’s part of it:
An infamous Youtube whore (he use to have nearly 70,000 subscribers) who has gotten his channels epically terminated many times (eight times so far) since April 21, 2011 as he is no longer allowed to make anymore Youtube channels and videos. Any channel by him will get Epically Terminated on the spot!
Wow, what an asshole.
Understand that when you take on something as dangerous as this online, you’re going to see some really hateful shit. “Eric” was getting death threats, and opted to keep going instead of just caving to the pressure and ending the prank. To expose yourself to that much hate in the name of such an experiment takes balls.
Knowing that the entire worlds’ eyes are fixed on you is quite chilling yet gratifying: you’re scared, but you feel amazing and have a warm feeling in your chest.
As far as I’m concerned, this is the proper response to getting 15 minutes of fame on the internet. Many people make the mistake of letting it go to their heads and thinking so highly of themselves. They then proceed to release a series of videos bashing their haters, videos that exist solely to promote their own self-absorption.
That’s precisely the kind of reaction “Eric” was duplicating in his videos. While I am not exactly a Justin Bieber fan, going around the internet bitching about how much you hate him is incredibly unproductive. If you don’t like his music and want to vent about it, at least try to sound somewhat sane.
And keep in mind thesevideos were released before Rebecca Black’s “Friday,” a god-awful ode to the Gregorian calendar. (I can’t count the number of times the song was played by our crew in between takes on the show just to torment us.) However, the internet response to the song was rather over-the-top. Black was infamously confronted on Good Morning America with a selection of comments made by haters on the internet. Again, I find the song somewhat mind-numbing, but for God’s sake, the girl is only 14! Vent for five seconds, then move on! (Oh, and the GMA reporter asked her if she cried. Journalism!)
The inability to move on is what drives so much internet commentary. Obsession is an unhealthy thing. This is true of Bieber fans as much as it is of Bieber haters. When tween girls saw him kissing Selena Gomez, they sent Gomez vicious e-mails, many of them containing death threats. When Esperanza Spaulding beat out Bieber for the Best New Artist Grammy, she also received death threats. (Meanwhile, the only reason I watched the Grammys was to see Arcade Fire.)
As for the Ron Paul bit, this is obviously not a political blog, so I’ll just leave it there for you to read and determine if you agree or disagree with his opinion. I’m sure this goes without saying, but the views expressed here do not necessarily reflect blah blah blah.
I’d like to thank and, at the same time make fun of you, for writing this post. It certainly appealed to me. And, as I previously stated, it’s remarkably well-written. So well-written that I think you deserve a job at a mainstream news website: perhaps CNN or WSJ?
Okay, I just posted this again because I’m vain that way. 🙂
But in all seriousness, I stand by the comments I made in the first two posts, and if a crazy Justin Bieber fan does for real what “Eric” did as a prank, they will have served their purpose.
As much as I would like to believe that this could help start a dialogue on anonymous internet commenting, the fact that it is anonymous means people can keep doing it without repercussions.
4channers and their ilk may have the numbers, but based on their incredibly overblown reaction to a YouTube video, it’s clear that “Eric Douglace” pwned each any every one of them.