There is a new trend on social media called cloutlighting where people pull extreme pranks on their partners, record the upset reaction and share it on social media in order to gain popularity. It came to light in 2016, when YouTuber Brad Holmes allegedly brandished a red chilli, before rubbing the seeds on his partner’s tampon. He then filmed himself laughing as she shouted in pain and desperately tried to splash water on her intimate body parts. According to The Sun, Holmes is well-known for pulling such cruel pranks on his girlfriend. With 250,00 subscribers on YouTube, he has previously posted videos of him calling her “thick”. He has also cut a chunk of her hair off while she’s asleep and pretended to propose before telling her it was all a joke. Recent popular videos on this trend include a woman being told her cat has died, one being called ugly by her boyfriend and faking affairs.

SOME TAKEAWAYS

  • Cloutlighting is a new trend on social media where people perform extreme pranks on their partners then film their reactions.
  • It gained popularity in 2016, when YouTuber Brad Holmes allegedly rubbed chilli seeds on his girlfriend’s tampons.
  • No person with some shred of humanity will put a loved one through such intense trauma for the sake of social media likes.
  • The digital platform is selling toxicity and abuse and people are consuming it mindlessly. 

The term Cloutlighting was coined as a combination of ‘clout’ which is a type of social media fame and ‘gaslighting’ where an abuser manipulates their victims into doubting themselves. But if what Holmes did was not a consensual or a staged act, then it is not just gaslighting. Inserting chilli in a woman’s private parts is not a prank. It is a cruel act, only a heartless, insensitive brute can think of pulling it off. Also, this is happening between two people in a relationship, hence it suffices to say that this is a form of domestic abuse.

No person with a little self-respect and a shred of humanity will put a loved through such intense trauma, just for the sake of some social media likes.

But we are a weird and narcissist generation, obsessed with online fame. Many people self-harm or pull outrageous and hazardous stunts like swallowing a spoonful of cinnamon, just to get some likes. However, to physically harm someone else, especially inserting harmful substances in a woman’s vagina, and film her screaming and crying in pain, or telling them their pet has died is not a harmless prank.

Whether or not such videos are filmed with the partner’s consent, when these videos go online and become viral, and motivate people to be barbaric. Cloutlighing as a trend is telling people that if you are toxic to those you love, abuse or gaslight them, then you are cool. You have a shot at being famous by not being nice but a monster. Who is to say then, that partners won’t deliberately be cruel to each other for the sake of fame? Or worse, put them through abuse and then disguise it as a prank?

Cloutlighting is unhealthy both for those who generate this inhuman content and those who mindlessly consume it.

The digital platform shouldn’t be a place which sells toxicity and abuse as cool. If you get a laugh out of watching a woman screaming in pain from a burning vagina, then you have a problem. You need help if you find it hilarious that a man is screaming at his girlfriend, calling her ugly and then filming her “reaction” without her consent.

Time and again some social media trends compel us to muse, where are we heading as a race? When should one put their foot down as to what is acceptable content and what is not? This trend is just that. But more than anything else, it shows us the ugly side of the human psyche. We still allow people to treat others as test subjects for the sake of fun. It is as if even love is not enough to stop a person from turning into a heartless fame hungry maniac. If people can deliberately be cruel to the partners for some social media likes, then is there anything sacred anymore in this world?

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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section.  The views expressed are the author’s own.

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