Staged videos create fake worlds


On TikTok “moneymanhan” pretended to be a victim of domestic abuse.

By Alyssa Rivera, Staff Writer

Less than one year ago, a TikTok user under the handle “moneymanhan” admitted to staging a TikTok video of her boyfriend verbally abusing her over her weight. Since then, there has been a trend in social media where content creators create video reels that are staged to either provide information or entertainment. However, the line between entertainment and mockery becomes blurred when acts such as domestic violence are faked. This leaves the internet users of today wondering, why are social media content creators continuing to stage sensitive and controversial material?

The current media trend that has become wildly popular among internet users of all ages is the creation of reels. Reels are videos shared to social media platforms such as Facebook or Instagram. They are typically shorter in length, with content that users find relatable, comedic, or controversial.

While most reels are entertaining footage of reality or scripted to be informational, there are many that cross the line between entertaining and stirring up trouble. Opposing viewers may find themselves disagreeing with others in the comment section, only to discover that the reel was completely staged or edited to manipulate the truth.

One of the first platforms to introduce the concept of reels was TikTok. According to Statista, one billion users have hopped on the trend of consuming endless video footage on a constant loop. This creates a high demand for content, which may pressure content creators into creating staged videos that gain attention, in efforts to keep up with the algorithm. Some of that content can be more harmful than entertaining.

“Fake news [scripted content] can lead to suspicion, prejudice, and conflict,” according to Shiela Venkataswamy, an instructor of sociology at MCC.

In summer of 2021, “moneymanhan” shared a video of herself eating a muffin on TikTok. In the background of the video, viewers can hear the woman’s boyfriend berating her with insults such as “fat” and “overweight.”

After weeks of pretending to be a domestic violence victim, “moneymanhan” shared her final video that explained how she scripted the abuse. Viewers were not pleased.

“The whole thing is staged! And that is uber sad because real people go through this every day,” TikTok user “artorchoke” commented on the original video.

This is when the final question comes into play. Why do social media users push limits with the content that they post?

“As a sociologist I would consider what in our society could be the source of the problem,” Venkataswamy said. “There could be several possible explanations ranging from weak ties to society, conforming individuals (which explains any kind of deviance), anomie (weak norms), to social class position (poverty and unemployment) and consequently the desire to earn money.”

According to CNN News, the Lego toy company conducted a survey of 3,000 children between the ages of 5-12. The survey included children in the United States, United Kingdom, and China. They were asked what career they would want to pursue when they grew older. The number one answer given in both the US and the UK was vlogger, with teacher following up as a close second. Vlogger takes fifth place among the kids in China, with astronauts in first place.

Creating content for social media is now becoming the dream job of the younger generation. With the children of today using social media videos as their main source of entertainment, the effects of exposing children to toxic scripted content can run deeper than people believe.

Venkataswamy explained how sharing fake controversial information can impact the minds of children.

“Sharing fake controversial news deliberately can make people live in an alternate reality where they are unable to distinguish facts and fiction, and what is wrong and right,” Venkataswamy said.

The staged content that creates a sense false of reality is distorting the way that children perceive the world around them. Social media and its influencers are creating a world, quite literally, beyond belief.