Carl Sherburne and Tristan Barker are self-styled comedians who are among the most notorious of Internet commentators. Both are known for their cutting opinions and ruthless analysis of current events, as well as a consistent need to push the boundaries of what the audience finds offensive. For these two culture warriors nothing is off limits, even mocking the death of a teen, Amanda Todd, who killed herself due to online bullying. It is a unique scenario, to be ridiculed online after death, for killing yourself because of being bullied online. The purpose of this column is not to re-litigate the individual actions of these gentlemen, which has already been heavily documented. Sherburne has been featured on CNN, and Barker has been at the center of several firestorms of his own creation. The purpose of this column is to document that for a shining moment these two decided to put aside their appetites for destruction, and attempted to stave off a possible tragedy.
Sherburne is employed by Internet entrepreneur Jason Fyk, the owner and publisher of wtfmagazine.com, ratemypic.com, and a variety of Facebook pages totaling over 13 million fans. Fyk has been in the news himself after a far over-reaching gestapo-style run-in in 2011 with Maryland law enforcement when he was arrested for video taping a fight, and was then absurdly charged with attempted murder and held in jail for 50 days without cause. A book about the incident is currently in works, and Fyk's account can be found on Youtube. As a rolemodel for Sherburne, Jason Fyk's words carried much weight. He remarked to Carl, "Lives can sometimes hang in the balance of one moral decision made by someone with celebrity status."
In a now viral video, a teenager Giovanna Plowman is alleged to have engaged in self-cannibalism and posted the now deleted contents on Facebook. The video was released late in the evening of Jan. 19 and quickly made its way to the desk of Carl Sherburne. Having a keen eye and a finger on the pulse of the Internet, Sherburne knew the power of the video he was sent. He knew it would only be a matter of time before it was seen by the entire world, and he quickly contacted his associate and collaborator Tristan Barker. Both were eager to announce to their collective social media following the latest offering they had procured. Outrage quickly spread, and Giovanna Plowman gained 10s of thousands of followers an hour. It was during these moments when the two mischievous scalawags were contacted by an anonymous source with information about the Plowman family.
The unrevealed source swiftly assembled an information packet on the entire Plowman family. As research revealed, the teen's father was a retired military man, and an outspoken advocate of the needy. Barker and Sherburne did not feel right about the storm of attention that was about to befall this family of patriots, and decided to take action to help with what could be described as preemptive damage control -- they called the girl's parents to apprise them of what was brewing on the Internet. As Tristan Barker put it they wanted to, "give some advice" before the scenario elevated "entirely out of hand."
The call begins with Sherburne announcing that they were "from the Internet", and asking the father, Jim Plowman, if he was aware of his daughter's recent undertakings. Plowman said that he was, and that he received a call earlier in the night. He also claimed to have "unfortunately" watched the video of his daughter. The duo continued with the father, explaining to him how they found his information. They urged the teen's father to heed their warnings, and to wipe as much of his family's personal information from the Internet as possible. The communication ends with the elder Plowman thanking the two.
Having performed a saintly deed, the pair was rewarded by outrage within their communities. Thousands had expected blood, and many vile little monsters were upset that they didn't have an opportunity to possibly take another life. The reactions were akin to those shouted centuries ago in an ancient Colosseum. Thousands of comments have been generated. Here are a few to sample the venom:
There's no such thing as too far unless you're some 15year old moralf*g. That carl c*nt is a cancerous sack of sh*t regardless.
OMG why would u tell himmmm?!?! Now she won''t kill herself! F*CK YOU!
Tristan and Carl did it for attention to try to get likes. Something that went viral so fast made them jealous. Ridiculous of them to call him.
This hypocritcal fat*ss makes fun of Amanda Todd but Helps Tampongirl?
The attempt by these two to help a family in distress to only find their actions welcomed with contempt is a detrimental commentary on the state of our civil society at large. Cynicism rules the day, and cruelty is now a valuable commodity in our ever connected and ever shrinking global community thanks to the glory that is instantaneous communication.
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