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Thoughts on Cringe

Posted January 28th, 2017 at 04:56 PM by Microcosm

Have you ever seen a "cringe" video on YouTube and just laughed your ass off? I know I have. In fact, I just did it today. Have a look.

It's funny because because most people know better than to talk over someone with stupid, unfunny remarks. Even the "green hoodie" guy made a video in response where he admitted that he "made an ass of himself," but he said some other things in that video as well: He is autistic as well as depressed and socially anxious. A streamer himself, he'd never been listened to by 50,000 viewers, but at the time the weight of the embarassment didn't hit him, but it's still funny because at the time of seeing the content these things are not made clear to viewers. Does it make you guilty knowing that you laughed? Should it? Humor is almost always a jab at another person. Sometimes it's more friendly and sometimes it is ruthless, but the latter dares to take a joke beyond polite friendliness, which often makes it more funny to the casual viewer.

So, to determine whether it is okay to laugh at this, consider the effect of laughing. The person doesn't know that you, specifically you, laughed. All he knows is that many people are laughing and there's nothing he can do to stop that. Since it is impractical to blame everyone for laughing, each person knowing that their individual enjoyment of it cannot in and of itself cause significant harm, this is not where the blame should be placed. Instead, the outlet by which masses of people see such things ought to be blamed. In the above case, the guy who uploaded the video to YouTube should be blamed because he perpetuated the bullying intentionally.

Verdict: Laughing at and enjoying a cringe video at face value is acceptable because individually not laughing would result in no net gain in happiness for the victim, but sharing to multitudes of people, allowing the group to collectively laugh and bully with a louder voice, is not acceptable.
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