Tiktok Trolls Make Animal Rights Mainstream

Trolling people for attention has become a common stunt to pull amongst content creators on the video-sharing platform Tiktok and, if you caught the news from our sweet little home here in Melbourne (Naarm), Australia, then you may have come across this: TikTok pranksters Nick and Bill slammed after eating KFC in front of vegan protesters. 

Last Saturday, a teenage duo who go by the Tiktok username @nickandbill, filmed themselves stuffing their mouths with boxes of KFC in front of Anonymous for the Voiceless outreachers at their weekly Cube of Truth demonstration in Bourke Street Mall.

The clip quickly went viral with over 3 million views and, unsurprisingly, the public’s reactions were quite polarised, with many people adamant that the pair were entitled to their spectacle; a sentiment that Animal Rights activists, Paul Bashir and Karen Shugg, most certainly shared.

Anonymous for the Voiceless founder, Paul Bashir, can be heard telling the boys that they are “morons”, before thanking them for their spectacle antics and even extended the olive branch to the pair, should they want to return again.

Now, in fairness, this is not the first time the two teenagers have rocked up to a Cube with giant green phallus in-hand: you may recall my second blog article which discussed my very first expereience at a Cube of Truth (including being trolled by the teen who goes by “Nick”).

Nick of @nickandbill
Photo Credit: John Karapalidis

The pair’s first attempt to cause disruption didn’t yield them any likes, in fact, the encounter was such a non-event that they went home empty-handed, with no post-worthy content to share. During the first encounter with Nick in Novemeber 2020, he revealed that he was only sixteen, so I guess I’d like to hope the youngster will gain some perspective with time.

It’s a sad world in which we live, when mocking the suffering, torture and abuse of innocent beings becomes a laughable event, click-bait for the masses.

The University of Rochester’s Health Encyclopedia gives some insight into understanding the teenage brain, saying:

It doesn’t matter how smart teens are or how well they scored on the SAT or ACT. Good judgment isn’t something they can excel in, at least not yet.

The rational part of a teen’s brain isn’t fully developed and won’t be until age 25 or so.

In fact, recent research has found that adult and teen brains work differently. Adults think with the prefrontal cortex, the brain’s rational part. This is the part of the brain that responds to situations with good judgment and an awareness of long-term consequences. Teens process information with the amygdala. This is the emotional part.

In teen’s brains, the connections between the emotional part of the brain and the decision-making center are still developing—and not always at the same rate. That’s why when teens have overwhelming emotional input, they can’t explain later what they were thinking. They weren’t thinking as much as they were feeling.

Hopefully, given the soon-to-be-forming of their pre-frontal cortexes, there is still hope that these boys might grow up to think and function as more caring and empathetic humans in our world.

Regardless of how the stunt made viewers feel, there is no such thing as bad publicity for social justice issues and if that’s what activists have to put up with in order to get Animal Rights on the six o’clock news, then it’s a price well worth paying.

The only thing we need from animals is their forgiveness.