Internet Search Essay

The video consists of a regular version of the Finger Family song played over an animation of character heads and bodies from Disney’s Aladdin swapping and intersecting.Again, this is weird but frankly no more than the Surprise Egg videos or anything else kids watch. The creeps in with the appearance of a non-Aladdin character —Agnes, the little girl from Despicable Me.

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As someone who grew up on the internet, I credit it as one of the most important influences on who I am today.

I had a computer with internet access in my bedroom from the age of 13.

I have always been a critical proponent of the internet and everything it has brought, and broadly considered it to be emancipatory and beneficial.

I state this at the outset because thinking through the implications of the problem I am going to describe troubles my own assumptions and prejudices in significant ways.

Surprise Eggs videos depict, often at excruciating length, the process of unwrapping Kinder and other egg toys. There are thousands and thousands of these videos and thousands and thousands, if not millions, of children watching them.

The above video is entitled Wrong Heads Disney Wrong Ears Wrong Legs Kids Learn Colors Finger Family 2017 Nursery Rhymes. I have no idea where the “Wrong Heads” trope originates, but I can imagine, as with the Finger Family Song, that somewhere there is a totally original and harmless version that made enough kids laugh that it started to climb the algorithmic rankings until it made it onto the word salad lists, combining with Learn Colors, Finger Family, and Nursery Rhymes, and all of these tropes — not merely as words but as images, processes, and actions — to be mixed into what we see here.Toy Freaks is a You Tube verified channel, whatever that means.(I think we know by now it means nothing useful.)As with Bounce Patrol Kids, however you feel about the content of these videos, it feels impossible to know where the automation starts and ends, who is coming up with the ideas and who is roleplaying them.In the version above, she is basically tortured, before turning into a series of Iron Man robots and performing the Learn Colours dance. Trolls don’t cover the intersection of human actors and more automated examples further down the line.A search for “peppa pig dentist” returns the above video on the front page, and it only gets worse from here.[Edit, 21/11/2017: the original video cited here has now been removed as part of You Tube’s recent purge, although many similar videos remain on the platform.]Disturbing Peppa Pig videos, which tend towards extreme violence and fear, with Peppa eating her father or drinking bleach, are, it turns out very widespread. Many are obviously parodies, or even satires of themselves, in the pretty common style of the internet’s outrageous, deliberately offensive kind. They’re at play here, but they’re not the whole story.But I don’t even have kids and right now I just want to burn the whole thing down.Someone or something or some combination of people and things is using You Tube to systematically frighten, traumatise, and abuse children, automatically and at scale, and it forces me to question my own beliefs about the internet, at every level.I understand that this is a natural evolution of attitudes which happens with age, and at some point this question might be a lot less hypothetical. I would want my kids to have the same opportunities to explore and grow and express themselves as I did. And this belief broadens into attitudes about the role of the internet in public life as whole.I’ve also been aware for some time of the increasingly symbiotic relationship between younger children and You Tube.One of the thus-far hypothetical questions I ask myself frequently is how I would feel about my own children having the same kind of access to the internet today.And I find the question increasingly difficult to answer.


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