OK, let’s get this straight: the city boy caught shoveling cocaine up his nose on the London Underground like a cut-price Scarface in his Dad’s suit is a moron. A moron of the highest order.
From his privileged voice to his brazen inhalation of Colombian marching powder in front of commuters (including children) was pretty despicable. His actions are absolute proof that cocaine makes people into complete arseholes.
But then we all knew that. It’s not really much of a shock; people have been over confidently fast-talking their way to skyscraper heights of annoyance for decades. You don’t need to be hanging around those ‘elitist-bars-that-I-can’t-name-for-legal-reasons’ to realise that, nor do you need to sit through two hours of Wolf Of Wall Street's overly glamorous depiction of it. As shock levels go, the idea of a city boy indulging in a spot of the white stuff is up there with a news reader dropping an F-Bomb. In fact, following the recent cocaine discovery in London sewers, it’s hardly a shock that anyone is imbibing in the capital.
So yes, the man is an idiot, one who right now is probably in the midst of post-coke paranoia and terrified about losing his job – which he probably will. Not to mention the royal telling off he’ll probably get from his parents or spouse.
But brazen cocaine use isn’t the only thing wrong with this video. The video is.
The fact that we now live in a world where spotting a man laying down lines like a road painter compels you with, not fear, anger or, indeed, concern, but the lure of viral success. What a time to be alive. It’s bonkers.
The humble smartphone has been an incredible power tool in transforming the modern world, but it’s also turned us into voyeuristic buffoons. Any incident, no matter the gravity of the situation, is simply another clip.
Lady being racist on a bus? YouTube hit. Man getting knocked down by a car? Public service announcement with 100 per cent Facebook Like-rate. Child getting bullied? Heartbreaking video we should turn into a news campaign.
Even indiscriminate acts of kindness are becoming hollow hit fodder, with the recent spate of Youtubers filming themselves giving money to the homeless. "It’s to raise awareness" they’ll say. It’s not, it’s a feel good viral that relinquishes effort on the part of the viewer.
There was once a time when these kinds of instances would force people to actually do something ‘IRL’, outside of the realms of social media where they would make a point of stopping the situation. Ejecting the coke snorter from the tube and into the capable hands of security, putting the racist bus shouter in their place, buying that homeless man some breakfast. Now? People just pull their phones out and film it.
And with the continued technological advancements of apps like Periscope and Meerkat, it’s only going to get worse. Hell, only a few months ago we were live streaming an explosion in New York city, watching members of the public steadfastly get in the way of emergency services, filming the entire thing on their smartphones, which was neither helpful or respectful. We've become viewers, not doers.
At least during the Darley and Latane’s bystander apathy study of 1968 the majority of subjects that didn’t get involved at least pretended they hadn’t noticed something was happening. We don’t even do that anymore - we whip out our phones, sniggering, and film it as publicly as those we’re chastising. And to what end?
We’re a generation locked into the queasy thrill of public shaming and social gratification. The medieval pastimes of our forefathers reborn for the Twitter age and wrapped around the concept of seedy ‘citizen journalism’. One where any Joe Bloggs can film something they probably shouldn’t and flog it to the nearest tabloid, further feeding the shame machine.
Much has been written about the heinous qualities of the troll but nobody ever mentions that we’re all guilty of it, or at least accessories to it. We just do it by mob rule. Judge, jury and character executioners. We’re all three, hidden by a 90 x 90 pixelated avatar. And we love it.
This morning a video of a man snorting cocaine went viral. A video of a man who, whilst displaying idiotic behaviour that can’t be condoned, clearly has what would be defined as a drug problem. A condition that going by the stats can fall very evenly into an ailment of fragile minds and those with mental conditions. One that is often the vice of the disenchanted, depressed, highly strung and lost. A problem that should be helped, advice offered, counselling provided, lest it spiral into something much worse.
But instead we just filmed it, threw it all over the internet and laughed at how much of a berk he is without even raising an eyebrow. Fire him and shout at him, but don’t forget to help him afterwards once you’ve reduced him to the sludge on your boot and moved onto your next viral smash.