On December 31, 2017, when the infamous vlogger, Logan Paul, uploaded a video depicting the body of a man who had committed suicide in the Aokigahara “suicide” forest, he was blind. He knew nothing about suicide, drug addiction, and mental health because he’s been living in a bubble — a bubble I believe many young people are stuck in. I spent three hours assessing Logan, giving him the same no-bullshit approach I give all of my young clients: I grilled him. I asked him hard hitting questions, and he thoughtfully answered every one.
I asked him about what he is trying to accomplish now, and it was clear that he knows he has a voice and how many people he can reach. Despite his mistake, I respect Logan Paul. Why? Because he can admit when he’s wrong. He’s 22 and he knows he messed up. That’s more than we can say for most adults. Hell, we have a president who can’t even admit when he makes a spelling error! And not only did the kid say he was wrong, he’s doing something about it. He got in touch with the right people like Alo House Recovery Centers and National Suicide Prevention Lifeline who can educate him so he can use his massive voice to make a real difference. I’m as skeptical as a guy can be and even I can’t ignore that this kid is being authentic. He genuinely wants to make amends.
[clickToTweet tweet=”“I have a megaphone, and I want to use my megaphone to make a difference on an issue that I didn’t even know existed until now.” – Logan Paul ” quote=”“I have a megaphone, and I want to use my megaphone to make a difference on an issue that I didn’t even know existed until now.” – Logan Paul “]
So what happened to make him realize his mistake? His bubble burst. He grew up in Ohio, a state where suicide is the second leading cause of death, yet had never met anyone who had killed themselves. This came as a surprise to me. My dad committed suicide when I was 15. And I’ve lost countless friends to suicide over the years. How about the fact that 20 veterans commit suicide every day in this country? Logan was naive, sheltered, and completely unaware of these heavy societal issues. This kid would never hurt a soul intentionally. He simply didn’t know. And now he’s making the most of a second chance, which is something we can all acknowledge as growth.
Listen, I’m a cynical, punk rock, baby boomer. I’m an educator of kids. Talking to millenials in crisis is what I do, and I can’t help but notice a common, troublesome thread: their parents. Through my work I’ve seen that children don’t know shit about drugs, compassion, suicide, empathy… and they don’t know because their parents don’t teach them. And their parents don’t teach them because parents today don’t know how to live deep and meaningful lives.
While Logan is doing everything in his power to learn from this experience, the bigger question is whether or not the parents of today will make the most of their own teachable moment. Logan doesn’t intentionally make content catering to young kids … younger kids just happen to love what he does , and he’s working to be more mindful of his younger fans. But I think this is really about parents not doing their job when it comes to kids consuming media. Parents don’t attack Quentin Tarantino because their kids learned horrible things from Pulp Fiction. It is widely believed that parents should not be allowing their kids to watch Tarantino movies, but we have yet to learn this lesson about the Internet. It is the responsibility of parents to monitor the content their kids are consuming at alarming rates.
Logan made a mistake that he is working hard to rectify but what about the 5 million people (primarily children) who liked the original video before it was taken down? I can’t stop thinking about those kids. I’ve met with Logan a couple times and we’ve texted. We have a respectful relationship but I’d really like to talk with those 5 million kids. They need to see a counselor. Their parents need to pay attention.
This is what I know: We didn’t become this damaged society by accident, and it wasn’t the fault of our children. Logan is not the problem – he is a symptom of a soul sickness caused by baby boomers who don’t know how to raise empathetic children. Crucifying this kid is the least of our problems. We need to fix it from within.
My father used to say “wealth doesn’t equal wisdom”, and this is exactly why kids today are missing out on essential life lessons. We are blaming millennials for the destruction of society when their parents are focused on bullshit like fame, money, and the appearance of wealth. I find it frustrating that parents are crucifying Logan Paul for posting that video while ignoring the fact that their own children “liked” it. Baby boomers need to spend less time pointing fingers and focus on what their kids are doing, watching, thinking, and believing.
Logan Paul is a product of a sick society, and he was participating in the shitty culture that he’s inherited. We all make mistakes and bad decisions in life, but we shouldn’t be punished forever. This applies to addiction, too. It’s not “what you did” but “what you do next” that counts. Once Logan realized that he did a bad thing, he did a good thing. He turned a light on a topic that people don’t talk about, and by educating himself on the topic of suicide and talking about it, he’s going to reach thousands. We live in a society where darkness doesn’t register with people because we lack empathy and understanding of what others are going through.