Ellie Willcock is concerned that a popular TikTok pranker may be having more influence than is good.

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“I wouldn’t really call it terrorising. I’ll just call it more having fun.”

“Hate brings money. Hate brings likes, brings views – it doesn’t matter.”

“I’m legally an adult I can do what I want.”

These are all quotes from from Bacari Bronze O’Garro (AKA ‘Mizzy’)  who is an 18 year old from Hackney, with a large presence on social media and now in the news. Going live on the social media platform, TikTok, the teenager completes ‘prank’ activities such as getting into people’s cars, recording others without their consent and stealing a dog. Entering a family home in May had him receiving a Community Protection Notice and having broken two of the requirements, he has now been arrested and charged.

Social media can be an amazing thing, to be able to connect so quickly with people from the other side of the world is great. I use it is because I have family in America and I like to keep in touch with them, see the pictures, know when they’ve moved etc. However, there is the risk of people allowing the privacy of the screen and the advancement of ‘likes’ to increase their confidence in behaviour that perhaps once upon a time they would never have considered doing.

In this way Bacari Bronze O’Garro has used it as a way to boost his popularity and for people to support and actively encourage his outrageous behaviour.Social media is being used as a tool to show children that its okay to be as bad you want if it gets you ‘likes’.

When I was younger my parents were very open about what social media can do and ultimately let us make our own mistakes, letting us be aware of how behaviour is seen and the consequences of it.

I’m not a parent but I can imagine that its quite difficult to know how much is too much social media for your kids. How much do you feel you can trust them with while still ensuring they are safe?  In the case of ‘Mizzy’, it’s how far is someone willing to go in order to get more followers? The things that he’s doing have been scary for those involved, he hasn’t shown regard for people and their feelings apart from one apology to the couple whose home he invaded. While the teenager hasn’t done anything more criminal, it is still dangerous to see what people will do in order to gain fame and a need to get more likes. Instead of doing something like random acts of kindness he decides to use the factor of shock and awe and it can be very scary to see the extent that others are willing to go to for the same thing.

This is the underlying problem with social media. If ‘likes’ and ‘followers’ is your goal, then the  more outrageous the better. You will get your ‘fame’ and make money in the process. 

I am reminded of Romans 12:2: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world.” God wants your children to be their authentic self,and enjoy his goodness. Too much of this example won’t help them.It is a ‘race to the bottom’ and ’Mizz’y is an example of many who like the notoriety they are are developing. Every now and again it’s worth checking in with what your children are watching and liking. Sure the likes of ‘Mizzy’ will be a hero for some. But chatting through what this means for those affected and hopefully your children will realise that there is nothing to admire or emulate, and there’s a better way and a better One, they can follow.