Dying for a living, without dying. It's a living.
A 25-year-old YouTuber named Muhammed Bahçecik buried himself alive after promising his followers he'd do so should they give enough "likes" to one of his videos. When it happened, he stared into the dark abyss, climbed into a specially-designed glass coffin in Tuzla, Turkey, and left his fate to an assemblage of monitoring devices, according to an initial report from the Turkish news service, Onedio.
And he stayed there, buried alive, for six hours.
You're not wrong to wonder what brought young people so low (under the Earth), because this media stunt is endemic of a time when social media constantly reshapes the social fabric of society like an industrial mixer.
YouTuber buries himself for social media engagement
Bahçecik's special coffin was comprised of many different materials, including health monitoring equipment and an oxygen (O2) cylinder, but there was also an ambulance parked steps away from the YouTuber's tombstone, which (yes) was absolutely placed above his burial site for the duration of his stay below the Earth. The grave was created by a digger, and the influencer also went down with radios, cameras, and other devices that continually transmitted his condition to a doctor, awaiting him above ground. Bahçecik remained underground for six hours, donning a shroud, and was lifted from his grave via crane once his hours of infinite solitude had elapsed. Upon reflecting on his experience, Bahçecik said: "I learned how beautiful life is."
"The moment I entered the grave, I thought of all my loved ones, the people I loved, who I buried in the grave," Bahçecik said in the report, according to a rough translation. "I felt that they were here too. I am very happy that I can breathe easily now because I could not breathe for 6 hours, I was connected to an oxygen cylinder. What is life like? I learned that it is something as strong and beautiful as it is. I never panicked. Until it was dug out of the ground with the crane. At that moment, I was a little nervous."
Social media has changed the fabric of society
"I came out from under the ground and I am very cold right now," added Bahçecik in the report. "My health is good." Twenty years ago, you may have seen something like this in a TV show called "Jackass", or some other death-defying reality program. But social media enabled ordinary people to overcome visibility layers and pursue micro-celebrity status via high engagement on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or (now) TikTok, empowering some lucky few to rise to semi-stardom by simply being the first to do something compelling, enviable, or horrifying. The dark side of this is that the power influencers receive from populist support goes both ways: In the drive to maintain perpetual growth and not fall behind the digital marketplace, content creators often pursue strange and risky behavior to edge ahead of the competition, sometimes putting their own lives at risk.
Social media has also changed the way people participate in civil roles and daily life. In 2008, Facebook single-handedly transformed a "hail-mary" presidential candidate into the DNC frontrunner, forever shifting the focus of U.S. elections away from TV and public events (and policy), redirecting it to social media influence and relatability. The news, too, transformed at the dawn of the twenty-teens as digital media brands emphasized Facebook, and then later Twitter, as primary outlets, funded by advertising revenue instead of subscriptions or government funding. In 2016, Facebook made a "pivot to video", anticipating the primacy of video-based media like Snapchat, TikTok, and other smartphone apps. Memes became the primary vehicle for conveying messages, political and otherwise, as Buzzfeed and Upworthy monetized the new digital landscape.
It's dizzying to process how rapidly and radically the public square has shifted from newspapers and TV programs into a perpetual overstimulation machine, funneling entire populations by appeals to unconscious bias or desire for visibility into predictable consumer behavior, comprising an assemblage of social networks and horizontal power structures of a complexity that far surpasses everything since the first industrial revolution. Given all of this, climbing into a glass box and burying yourself alive for six hours doesn't seem as bizarre as it at first did. Compared to digitally choreographed internet mobs, you could even call it cathartic.