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Jul 1, 2017

What Does Live Streaming of Tragic Events Say About Us?

And what we need to do about it

I’m giving away my age by saying this, but in my youth, it used to be that we waited around for the phone to ring. And when it did, we would know that we weren’t that unpopular… Phone calls were as much a status symbol as they were proof that your friends liked you enough to call.

Today, this basic desire for human connection has not changed through the decades. But the ante has been upped to a tragic level. How and why?

We are connected with hundreds of people throughout our day. And, while our devices are an extension of ourselves, our attention has never been more scattered. Amid all that noise, we are searching for that connection. But how does one person stand out and fulfil that need for connection when so many are clamoring for attention? Livestreaming has enabled people to get the attention they crave!

For me one of the emotions that is being addressed by livestreaming is people’s loneliness. Remember, we long for that connection. So when you livestream and you are alone—the hope is that there is at least one person out there who will see you and make you feel less lonely. It is being connected without instantly being rejected. Which results in you seeking even more attention and going to even greater lengths to get it.

We hear of shocking incidents such as a disabled man being beaten on a Facebook Live stream, suicides being live streamed, and more. People want to be heard and seen, even at the expense of others’ hurt. Many have asked me if the livestreaming of tragic and horrific events is a new trend…

My answer? Perhaps the means is new, but human nature has been the same and has not changed.

On all social media channels, we see a marriage between

1.      our loneliness and our desire for connection

2.      and our innate curiosity of others and their interest in us.

Our curiosity has been fed by reality TV shows, and satisfied further by the 24/7 feed of real people going through real stuff.

We love other people’s drama--so long as it is not our own. Today we live in a society where we take pleasure in the humiliation or mistakes of other human beings and we casually brush it off by saying, “That was funny.”

The method may be new, but the emotions are the same. And the solution becomes visible here too. Here are some actions you can take to either answer a call for help from someone, or to answer your own desire for connection:

1.      When you see something violent on social media, report it, and delete the person from your profile proliferating the humiliating post.

2.      If you see someone at risk of self-harm, reach out and report it instantly.

3.      Understand your own need for connection and satisfy it by reaching out to your family and friends by spending time with them physically—and not solely online.

Bring me to your next school assembly to talk about cyber torment and what we each can do to save lives.


The leading voice of the Kindness movement, Gabriella van Rij [pronounced “ray”] works to spread the message that we are all unique, and we each have something to offer the person next to us. Gabriella is a speaker, author & kindness expert whose presentations blend humor, original analogies, and her life story to create a rare perspective-shifting experience that speaks to all and that provides the tools audiences need for more productive relationships. Gabriella has been seen by millions on Dr. Phil, ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX. She also writes for the Huffington Post and the NY Daily News. Gabriella’s #DareToBeKind campaign brings her bullying prevention program to schools, communities, and corporations across the US.