A common trope nowadays among vloggers is videotaping their interactions with members of the homeless community. Typically, these videos consist of giving homeless people money, food, clothes, or (depending on the disposable wealth of the vlogger) more expensive items like a car, an apartment, or a house.
Typing into YouTube “giving homeless people…” brings up videos titled “I changed a homeless persons’ life!!” “Changing a homeless woman’s life…**EXTREMELY EMOTIONAL**”, “Giving homeless people money and following them — UNEXPECTED RESULTS!!”, “FEEDING THE HOMELESS”, “Giving a homeless man 1000$ for his honesty – wallet theft experiment”. Many of these videos have millions and millions of views. I intentionally will not be linking these videos in this post.
In my opinion, all videos exploiting homelessness for monetized views and internet clout should be put to a stop. However, certain videos are worse than others. Videos such as this one, “How does a homeless person spend 100$?” I find particularly atrocious. At face value – how a homeless person spends 100$ is frankly none of your business. Upon closer examination, this vlogger set out to “expose homeless people” by following this man and videotaping him without his consent or knowledge. He later refers to the man as his “new friend” – I have never started a friendship by stalking and videotaping someone without their knowledge or consent. He finishes the caption by claiming this as proof that “not all homeless people are bad people…one love!” Obviously this “love” does not extend to homeless people who would use the money to buy beer.
The title of this video does not even give this gentleman the dignity of being labeled a person, instead he is referred with the title “Homeless”. I find these “experiments” particularly cruel as well, tempting those who are struggling financially, and often struggling with severe mental health problems with free cash.
This post is not to say that all of these YouTubers are cruel and mean spirited, but videotaping yourself carrying out acts of service and acts of kindness does negate the kindness. Would these vloggers be so generous if they were not making profit of off these videos, the more popular of which get millions of views? If you want to do something nice for a fellow human being who’s down on their luck – absolutely. However, as soon as you pull out your phone to videotape it, you’re changing to context to one which you’ve monetized to profit off of.