How people’s perception of mental health is being influenced online

Since the dawn of social media, it's never been easier to share experiences with others online and take a peek into the lives of others. It's no surprise however that there are those who wish to abuse these connections by harassing and targeting vulnerable individuals.

It’s undeniable that social media has provided people across the globe with an invaluable platform to express themselves and share their thoughts and interests with strangers on a monumental scale. YouTube, Tik Tok and Instagram are just a few sites where many have decided to document their lives for the world to see for better or for worse. With such a wide variety of people making the decision to allow people into their personal lives, there was no doubt that controversy would be quick to arise.  

The term “lolcow” is defined by the Urban Dictionary as “A person or group of people laughed at for actions that they take, despite not trying to be funny” and is a term that has grown in popularity over the years with many of these so called lolcow’s developing a cult following of individuals looking to get a laugh or two. Within the community there are a number of notable lolcows who’s notoriety has even extended as far as mainstream news with individuals such as Christine Weston Chandler, who goes by Chris Chan online.

Typically, lolcows tend to have some form of preexisting mental health challenges or existing disabilities that make them prone to influence from people online. In the case of Chris Chan, they were diagnosed with autism at a young age and suffer with their mental health as a result of factors influencing their childhood. Given that these individuals are documenting almost every aspect of their lives, there is an overwhelming amount of information that has been compiled by their so called “fans” over the years.

The most notable example of this documentation is the famous Chris Chan documentary series on YouTube, created by GenoSamuel2.1 which is currently on its 85th episode documenting Christine’s entire life which can be found here: 

So why is it that these lolcows receive so much attention? There’s a multitude of answers to that question however the general con-census among those online is that they are a depraved source of entertainment. Unlike comedians whose job is to create funny jokes and produce humorous stories to laugh along withe their audiences, lolcows exist to be laughed at. Communities keep updated with their lives in order to find enjoyment in their misery, whether that be watching them do something embarrassing or finding them in the midst of confrontation they want to get a laugh out of this misfortune.

Whilst certainly immoral this isn’t really the biggest issue, the problem lies within these communities purposely manipulating and deceiving individuals to engage in possibly dangerous or illegal activities in order to make them look stupid.

A prime example of  this would be an individual known online as Daniel Larson. Daniel is a self-proclaimed music artist from Denver, Colorado who posts numerous videos about himself and his supposed music career to Tik Tok on a daily basis. He was diagnosed with Schizophrenia in his early life and as such his “fans” have taken to preying on his delusions in an attempt to engage Daniel in fights. Once again a documentary on the story of Daniel’s life has been produced and is regularly updated by a YouTuber by the name of Kusari.

A link to that channel and the documentary can be found here:

Whilst there is far more information on these individuals that I haven’t addressed, it is obvious for the most part that these communities can only be described as predatory. These are only two individuals and with roughly 5.3 billion internet users on the planet, it’s safe to say they aren’t the only ones at the hands of this trolling. This kind of targeted abuse and harassment is damaging for these individuals mental health as these people have likely very little understanding of the manipulation they are experiencing purely for the entertainment of an online audience.  


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