If you’re in college or older and reading this right now, you should remember the days of watching YouTube videos for HOURS on the Internet. It could be considered our childhood version of Vine (RIP). Among ‘Grape lady falls’, ‘Shoes’, and ‘Double Rainbow’, ‘Charlie bit my finger’ was an iconic video that defined what it meant to go viral on the Internet. Uploaded in 2007, ‘Charlie bit my finger’ has gained over five million views over the ten years that it has been on YouTube. It is safe to say that if you were on the Internet in 2007, you were guaranteed to know about two critically important events: Brittney Spears shaving her head and this YouTube video. I, like many, was a huge fan of this video, and I recently learned that this means I have something in common with an infamous terrorist and serial killer. You learn something new every day!
The CIA just released thousands of files that were found on Osama Bin Laden’s computer at his time of capture and death. These were kept from the public for many years during the investigation and among the horrific and mundane files there was a—dare I say humorous find. Yes, ‘Charlie bit my finger’ was downloaded for the viewing pleasure of a person that has been assumed responsible for many terrorist attacks and tens of thousands of deaths. Wild right?
When we think of Osama Bin Laden and other terrorist leaders, most only think of the horrific atrocities that they were responsible for. We see them as two-dimensional villains that don’t have families, spouses, or children, and we do this for good reason. Many think that they don’t deserve to have us think of them as anything other than killers, and that point of view is valid. Why give these killers the luxury of being thought anything but negatively in their post-mortem? Maybe the reason for doing so is to make them more relatable.
You heard me. By realizing that Osama Bin Laden viewed this silly YouTube video shortly before his death, we can see that somewhere inside that tough exterior, there was some more juvenile side to him. We see him less as a two-dimensional villain and more as a person with a sense of humor, someone more relatable. It shows that these infamous people known for the evil they have brought into this world are not sub-human; they were brought into the world in the same way all of us were, with the basic needs of humor and love. It can be scary for many to relate themselves to anyone with this track record who caused so much pain across the world. However, by humanizing Osama Bin Laden we can start to look into the reasons behind his actions and use it to help us understand the events that we perceive as senseless and cruel, such as the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Perhaps we can use this information to further heal, understanding individual’s backgrounds and history rarely makes the situation worse.
For more information on the files released from Osama Bin Laden’s computer, read this article.