What an idiot…but aren’t we all?

I have read many stories about people doing crazy things to promote themselves online but this one takes the cake. As reported by Gizmodo recently, a self-proclaimed influencer, private pilot and former Olympic snowboarder Trevor Jacob, recently posted a 13 minute video of himself allegedly escaping his crashing airplane.

Why would you bother filming yourself as you’re fleeing an airplane having engine problems? Surely the priority in a doomed aircraft is to exit – as long as you just happened to be wearing a parachute! During the few seconds of terror, who would think to activate your web cams and iPhone just to record the entire escape so you can share it with followers on YouTube?

Film first ask questions later

I’ve never understood what the big deal is regarding online influence. In the dictionary, influence is defined as “the capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behaviour, opinions, etc., of others” To me, influence is something that is earned by setting a good example for others through your actions and rational opinions.

You’d think that as an Olympic and Winter X Games snowboarder, Trevor Jacob would already have a good deal of online influence, at least over competitive snowboard athletes. 

But apparently not. Jacob decided to strap on a parachute, mount numerous digital cameras both inside and on the outside of his recently purchased, but not airworthy aircraft. He then then faked engine trouble over a California desert just to grab his 13 minutes of YouTube and Instagram ‘influence’. Oh, and while free-falling from the place, Jacob conveniently recorded another exciting angle with his selfie-stick. 

Plane crashes are always investigated because they threaten the lives of people in the air and on the ground. The US Federal Aviation Authority determined he operated the flight to purposely cause it to crash, citing evidence like, “during this flight, you opened the left side pilot door before you claimed the engine had failed.”

Investigators also noted that Jacob installed both cabin and exterior cameras, ensuring a view of the propeller for the ideal angle during the stall and resulting nosedive, and that the (now former) pilot was wearing a parachute from the onset of filming.

Over the Influence

Internet influence is an odd thing. People spend countless hours ranting and raving on Facebook, dancing on TikTok, filming backyard stunts, and even intentionally crashing airplanes just to ‘influence’ complete strangers. The dictionary does not cite financial reward as a defining characteristic of influence. This is the brainchild of social media companies monetizing your attention.

Spending hours scrolling through cat memes or plane crash videos is bad enough, but the fact that someone was willing to crash an aircraft is a sign that Internet influence is broken. Attention is not influence. Attention is a quick glance at something as it scrolls past your gaze. As long as your brain registers that an ad flickered by, the social media titans make money.

People like Trevor Jacob are sad examples of how social media can transform rational human beings with experience to share, into raving idiots who’ll do anything for influence. However, perhaps we’re all idiots for posting everything for free, while Big Tech makes trillions by owning all the content we create