The Verge is decrying “a genre of video that derives its entertainment value from unwitting passersby” — like filming pedestrians in a neighborhood in New York City:
Many viewers on TikTok ate it up, but others pushed back on the idea that there’s humor in filming and posting an unsuspecting neighbor for content. This year, I saw more and more resistance to the practice that’s become normal or even expected…. [P]eople who have been featured in videos unbeknownst to them have pointed out that even if there’s no ill will, it’s just unnerving and weird to be filmed by others as if you’re bit characters in the story of their life. One TikTok user, @hilmaafklint, landed in a stranger’s vlog when they filmed her to show her outfit. She didn’t realize it had happened until another stranger recognized her and tagged her in the video.
“It’s weird at best, and creepy and a safety hazard at worst,” she says in a video….
Even before TikTok, public space had become an arena for constant content creation; if you step outside, there’s a chance you’ll end up in someone’s video. It could be minimally invasive, sure, but it could also shine an unwanted spotlight on the banal moments that just happen to get caught on film. This makeshift, individualized surveillance apparatus exists beyond the state-sponsored systems — the ones where tech companies will hand over electronic doorbell footage without a warrant or where elected officials allow police to watch surveillance footage in real time. We’re watched enough as it is.
So if you’re someone who makes content for the internet, consider this heartfelt advice and a heads-up. If you’re filming someone for a video, please ask for their consent.
And if I catch you recording me for content, I will smack your phone away.