A disproportional reaction to ‘sextortion’

The other day while having dinner, I caught part this crime show that was playing on TV. It was an episode about a Scottish kid who committed suicide after being ‘sextorted’ by some criminals in the Philippines. Basically he was tricked into webcamming with a fake girl over the internet, had his actions filmed and then blackmailed. Kid couldn’t fork out the money, so the criminals told him to kill himself – and that’s what he did. Now it may sound ridiculous, but that shit really happened.

So then, it got me thinking: why are people so worried about their sexual videos leaked online? What’s the worst that could happen? Sure, it’s going to affect those who are vying for positions of power (even so, I believe that having a sex tape online doesn’t affect how well you do your job unless it was something illegal then that’s another story) but for the rest of us (95% of the world? I made that number), it’s not going to affect our lives in any way. Maybe somebody recognizes you in public, points at you and laughs. So what? Take comfort in the fact that they probably jerked off to your video anyway.

You might be thinking, oh George, it’s easy to say such things because you’ve never been involved in such situations before. You don’t know how it feels to be a victim! That is true, but if I was, I believe that it wouldn’t bother me at all. I mean so what if there’s a video of me having sex on the internet? Especially if it was uploaded without my consent? I wouldn’t do anything about it. If people brought it up, I’d just confirm that it was me (if it indeed was me) and then say, “nope, you’re not the first person to ask me about it.” Now what? Exactly. We’ll move on and talk about other subjects.

And no, I wouldn’t try to hide it either. Asking for a take down would just make it spring up again on a million other mirrors (assuming the video is popular enough to warrant the spread). Also, people would be even more interested in watching it if you’re trying to quash the video (see: the Streisand effect).

I’m no expert but I believe the kid must have had some issues prior to the ‘sextortion’ case if he killed himself that easily. Yes, he was reported as being a happy kid and not the type of person to end his own life, but that’s where the problem is. A lot of depressed people are good at hiding it because of all the stigma surrounding the issue as well as them not wanting to be a burden on those around them. They could have it all (money, power and fame) and still be depressed people on the inside. They just choose not to talk about it.

I don’t know what the video in question was about but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t anything crazy (the kid was only seventeen, come on – how wild were you at that age?). It was probably him just masturbating in front of his webcam. Nothing worth killing yourself over. Especially when the kid was still a minor – people watching his videos would get in trouble, not him! But if the kid was in a bad place at that time, and this ‘sextortion’ pushed him over the edge – you could probably replace the blackmail with anything else he deemed terrible and he would have killed himself over it. No, I’m not absolving the criminals here for what they did – all scammers deserve to be punished – nor am I trivializing his suicide, but I believe that he would have been fine if he was mentally sound in the first place.

But then again, I’m not a seventeen year old boy. I’m saying this as a grown-ass man who has lived almost twice as long as the kid.

Mental health and depression are issues that shouldn’t be taken lightly, and all the stigma surrounding it needs to be removed. People need to be able to discuss it openly or seek help without being judged. It’s not something that should be brushed off casually. It doesn’t just magically improve with time, you don’t just ‘get better’. I recently listened to a podcast which shed some light on artists and their depression and suicide attempts (it’s a pretty good listen, especially if you’re into Tooth and Nail bands – check it out here) and it ended with an uplifting quote which I thought I’d share:

Depression and suicidal thoughts are like an ominous wave of darkness. But if you are in the ocean on a sinking ship, what do you look for? More water? More ominous darkness? No, you look for a lifeboat, and that lifeboat is absolutely minuscule compared to the immense ocean. But it’s the only thing that is gonna save you. So look for the positivity in your life. Look for reasons to stay present and connected. Look for love, even if it seems insignificant compared to your pain or sorrow. It can literally save your life.

What I’m trying to say is, there’s a sex tape of me floating about online and you can watch it here (NSFW). Let me know if you enjoyed it, thanks!

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