SLifecasting, a kind of do-it-yourself reality TV broadcast on the Internet, has thousands of practitioners. Until last night, one of them was Abraham Biggs, a 19-year-old Florida resident, who used a webcam to broadcast his death, too.Wednesday night, after he posted a suicide note on the Web, he overdosed on pills on camera as users of Justin.tv, a lifecasting site, watched. Some posted comments egging Biggs on. When he took the pills and stopped moving, they laughed, expecting his corpse to revive and announce it was all a joke. No one called the police until hours had passed. They kept watching as officers came to the scene and verified his death. Even then, commenters wrote "OMFG" and "LOL." NewTeeVee, an online-video industry publication, called the incident a "a striking display of the power of live video." The power, but definitely not the glory: It shows how the viewers of lifecasting devalue life. Users of sites like Justin.tv have grown accustomed to watching people mug for the camera. All the world's a stage, and all the men and women on webcams are merely players. But what happens when we're not playing around? Justin.tv CEO Michael Seibel, in a statement, didn't comment on the video, merely noting the site's policy for removing content flagged as "objectionable." The digital record of Biggs's death is just bits on a server. What about the users who cheered Biggs on as he performed a snuff film? Can we flag them, too? There will always be teenagers who try to kill themselves in awful ways. But one would hope the audience would not applaud.
Submitted discussions can be approved by the author or users followed by this blog.