As an enthusiast of the empirical, I only ever state facts. So I’m not wrong (fact) when I say that social experiment videos are the worst (according to independent research). If you live under a rock with no Wi-Fi, social experiment videos aren’t — as the name would suggest — videos of social experiments. Instead, we get something really close to a social experiment but is ultimately for entertainment purposes only — much like this article.
Social experiments have existed since the 1960’s; you know what else started in the 60’s and is crap now? GAP. Famous social experiments such as the Stanford prison experiment or the Milgram experiment are not what I’m criticizing here. Those experiments followed a stricter method, and they set out to prove a hypothesis. SEVs (Social experiment videos) don’t follow a hierarchy.
Real science asks “Does this experiment display x? Now that we are aware of x, how does it impact our daily lives? Should we put a social policy in place to work against x? Ah good ole x!” SEVs ask “Like this video? Like and Share”. There is also the issue of skewed results. Almost every SEV shows one thing (ex. People are evil, people are good) that are the same, implying conclusive results. My point here is that SEVs are entertaining but they are not compelling. If you were watching a parkour video and it was trying to convince you that it was the most efficient way to get around, you’re still going to watch, but you won’t agree — and if you do agree, like & share!
Now that I have shown conclusively that SEVs are the worst (fact), the question remains: why are they so popular? I’m glad you asked! Most SEVs are not genuine social experiments because their motives are to be popular and entertain.
There exist 3 types of people in this world (fact): Pessimists optimists, and Handsome Geniuses. One example of that last category is Benjamin Healey (All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental).
When any clickbait comes up with a title like “Left in hot car: Baby vs. Dog” (real video); all of the pessimists will think “Nobody is going to help the baby,” and they click. All of the optimists will think “Everybody is going to help no matter what,” and they click. All of the handsome genii will think “There’s a video of babies and dogs fighting inside a hot car?!” and they click. After they click, they are either proven right — in which case they continue being pessimistic/optimistic, and probably share — or they are proven wrong, in which case the video still isn’t compelling enough to make people think anything. The handsome genius is always disappointed.
Let’s look at more clickbait: “His son wanted to go as Elsa for Halloween, his reaction... wow!” This implies that the dad’s reaction was either conservative (he told the son “no”) or liberal (he was supportive). Everyone is unique, but you will have one of two reactions, and then do the same thing as everyone else. The person clicks with an assumption of what the video will be.
If the person’s assumption is proven correct; hooray, never change! If proven wrong, the pessimists will watch a video that validates their thinking anyway, and the optimists will be surprised with something they completely disagree with. However, nobody will switch their politics. Because the title is ambiguous, people assume they know what it’s about. They want to be offended or validated by it, but never challenged.
Now — as always — I know what you might be thinking: “Ben, while this article was entertaining, your points aren’t great. Can’t you leave well enough alone? All social experiment videos are trying to do is claim that human beings are ultimately good or ultimately evil; harmless enough. I say we let the social experiment videos ride out until they conclusively display if people are bad or good. Could someone take free money they don’t need but still be good enough to help someone less fortunate? No. Why don’t you stick to jokes about giraffes and almonds and leave the real thinking to the real thinkers.”
If you’re the 1% who don’t think that, share.