Ah, God bless CCTV. Without its huge and pivotal role in our closely monitored society, we would not be able to while away the hours watching YouTube videos of people soiling themselves in lifts, falling off escalators and having drunken, poorly concealed sex in the street.

Attribution due to Hank Grabe, mediaspin.com under Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike Generic 2.0 license.



How we love to watch people ‘fail’. In fact, as well as being a commonly used expression, if you enter ‘fail compilation’ into the YouTube search box, you will come across hundreds of pages full of videos of people in various stages of adventurous accidents, embarrassing accidents and hilariously cruel pranks.

In fact, the ‘reaction compilation’ video became more popular than the videos being reacted to.

As an example I will refer to the video where you have to watch a car driving along a windy mountain road, from a distance. The tag instructs you to not take your eyes off the car, prompting you to lean forward in your seat and focus on this car. Then the screen suddenly changes to a hideous Exorcist style face, and because your concentration was so intent, the scare then prompts you to scream, jump and spill coffee all over the computer.

These reactions are indeed ‘hilarious’ so we love to sit and watch a series of children being scared out of their wits, crying, shaking and screaming, as we sit and laugh uncontrollably at their ‘fail’.


I’m watching, always watching

There is a now a fashion in installing spy cameras in various places and situations for comedy value or to record evidence of foul play.



The spy camera has played a central part in unmasking the dark truths of how some childminders abuse their positions. The ‘Nanny Cam’ is now a world renowned method of catching out unprofessional babysitters.

Whilst the Nanny Cam trend has helped catch and punish child abusers (most notably the Floridian nanny who was filmed kicked an 11 month old toddler in her care, dropping objects on his head and throwing him around the room), parents also use it to check up on how the nannies are earning their pay.

Many a child minder has lost her/his job for ‘sitting down’ for a longer period of time than the parents felt was necessary. With all this spare time they have to check up on the child minder, wouldn’t this time be put to better use, I don’t know, minding their child?


More fool you

Our obsession with seeing others make fools of themselves has lead to this being primetime entertainment. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard the phrase: ‘The only good bit of the X Factor is watching all those ugly talentless idiots embarrass themselves at the auditions’. Lovely.

The days of looking away and flinching are a thing of the past. Today, we laugh, point and film it on our camera phones.

That said, I really don’t know how to begin weighing up the benefits and disadvantages of this audio-visual culture. Security cameras watch over your business, your home and your street. CCTV cameras catch you speeding, help trace missing persons, record events that could not be verbally proved and generally keep an eye on what we get up to.


I believe as with everything, the good and bad brought about by a something powerful is directly in proportion with the person wielding the weapon.




Attribution due to Alan Cleaver, under Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike Generic 2.0 license.


Susannah Plomer is an avid blogger and freelance writer for Fly On The Wall who provide the world with extra eyes, in the shape of home security equipment and spy cameras for the mischievous!