Dear Readers, Prank is not harmless fun!

This happened with one of my friends a few days back, and he narrated his story to me. Let’s go through it first so I can build my argument around it.

‘I had a really bad time at office that day. I went out for lunch to feel better. However, the thought of returning to office was killing m e. On my way back, I received a phone call from home regarding ongoing family problem and it added to my frustration levels. As I parked my vehicle an d started walking towards office building, someone stopped me and asked me if I can take care of his bike as he needs to go to washroom in a nearby building. I was in a hurry so I humbly excused, but he keeps insisting. Despite me repeated no, he grew more stubborn and started cracking senseless jokes. He also held my shirt so I can’t leave and once I passed my tip ping point and was about to smack him in the face, he apologized for his behavior and said that they are shooting a prank. I told him that I don ‘t accept his apology and he need to cut my video from the recording. I also mentioned that had I been in some other country, I would have sue d him for videotaping me without my consent.’

Should pranks be banned? Should it be treated as offense? I don’t have Yes/No answer to this question, but this is something that must be taken seriously. We shouldn’t be entertained by seeing people going through extreme frustration levels. We shouldn’t be categorizing such filthy stuff as harmless. Because, it’s not harmless; it ‘s dangerous. It’s desensitizing the society as a whole and people are getting used to have fun while watching others being poked, bothered and disturbed.

Pranks are funny. They are natural. People burst out laughing watching funny reactions of a common man. A prankster is successful if he can push the anger level of the victim to a level where the victim either starts getting physical or pass verbal abuses. That’s the success criteria of a prankster. Sadly, that’s the level of entertainment we are appreciating in today’s world.

However, this sparks a bigger question; as a citizen of a state, is it allowed any other person to record my video for any purpose without my consent? I know, many will argue that pranksters do it for their YouTube channels and the purpose is not to infringe others’ privacy, but is it a valid argument? Remember, editing is done post recording and while video is being recorded, people who are being filmed have no idea about where the camera is, for how long they have been filmed, where this video is going to be uploaded, and what’s the guarantee that it won’t end up in wrong hands.

Obviously, if pranksters tell people that they are being filmed before performing pranks, it will kill the very purpose of pranks. In the world of pranks, it’s called staged or fake prank. I am not building this argument to malign, defame or denigrate prankster community; I am just highlighting a fact that video recording people without their consent violate their privacy, and therefore, shouldn’t be allowed. On a side note, pranksters make money out of the content which is produced by common man who ends up getting zilch out of it. Remember, it’s the reaction of people, which is the core of prank, not the talent of prankster. If people don’t react aggressively, prankster isn’t going to get much regardless how talented he is.

Another problem associated with increasingly agonizing pranks is the dangerous trend of enjoyment while seeing others in desperate anxious state. It’s not a skit or play where actors are perfectly alright and acting to be frustrated; its people being pushed to a frustration level that they start manhandling the prankster. The more is the frustration; the better it is for the YouTube channel. There is no value or sympathy for the poor guy who may have been going through extreme distress or mental pressure for financial, emotional or personal reasons. In fact, such people are more helpful for pranksters to pull up more aggressive reactions.

Should pranks be banned? Should it be treated as offense? I don’t have Yes/No answer to this question, but this is something that must be taken seriously. We shouldn’t be entertained by seeing people going through extreme frustration levels. We shouldn’t be categorizing such filthy stuff as harmless. Because, it’s not harmless; it’s dangerous. It’s desensitizing the society as a whole and people are getting used to have fun while watching others being poked, bothered and disturbed.

These talented pranksters should also understand that making money out of others misery isn’t something to be proud of. They can use their talent in other ways as well. How would anyone feel if his father or any other respected family member is humiliated on street just to get an angry re action out of him? Many people we see falling prey to pranksters are respected fellows in their families but because mental tension, anxiety and depression isn’t even considered a problem in our society, we bracket all these pranks as inoffensive fun.

My friend’s story is just one of the many where people who are going through various pressures mentally had to deal with pranksters who are ready to go to any length to get ‘content’ for their YouTube channels. This practice should stop, or at least, regulated somehow.

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