"What’s that gross one with the octopus coming out of a vagina?"
Back in the 60s, a bunch of crazy intelligent, electrical magicians – Screwfix Sorcars, if you will – created an early version of the internet. Back then, the internet looked a bit like a Ceefax page (RIP, sweet prince) and was primarily used as a way for researchers to share information. Sadly, the world is full of grubby bastards who quickly found out how to use that service to upload photos and videos of politicians shooting themselves in the head, women being savagely fucked by horses and a bunch of other totally family-friendly stuff.
We've all been subjected to certain sects of that vomit-worthy-fodder depending on what kind of friends we have and how willing they are to show us the kind of stuff they stumble across while trawling the depths of the web, but who's seen what? Is "Two Girls One Cup" as universally-reaching as The Lion King nowadays? Or have I just watched it enough times alone to convince myself that it is?
London, what's the most disturbing thing you’ve seen online?
Konstantine (left) and Tommy, both 29, both barbers.
Konstantine: Oh my god. I've personally seen some crazy stuff. I’ve seen raw footage of war and people getting shot.
Tommy: The worst thing I’ve seen is someone getting their head cut off.
The guy was standing on a bloke's head, taunting him with a knife. A big massive knife. He put it into the blokes neck and sawed his head off. It was fucking disgusting, mate.
What was your reaction?
Someone showed it to me and I never watched it again. I wish I'd never seen it. It fucking haunted me for a few nights, mate. It was disgusting.
Do you think the internet was created specifically to share hugely disturbing videos like that?
Konstantine: I believe in freedom of speech and freedom to see what you want to see. I’m sure if you dig deep enough you can find anything you want. But what you see on the news is a watered down version of reality and if they were to show atrocities and war on TV, even blurred out, we might be in a different place. There’s some weird stuff going on in the world and people are recording it on their cameras.
That was a much more insightful answer than I expected.
Evra, 24 (left) and Claire, 26, both digital designers.
Claire: Wow – I actually don’t know. Give me a second.
"Two girls, one cup"? That's a pretty standard one.
Evra: No, I haven’t seen that. I was thinking more about the double rainbow guy on YouTube. He was pretty disturbing. He got the most hits on YouTube last year for freaking out over a double rainbow.
That’s not really disturbing, though, is it?
I don’t go searching for disturbing material, though.
Have you never clicked on something disturbing?
We work in digital design – we know what not to click on and go through to. You might find that there’s a gender bias towards disturbing stuff on the internet. I don’t think I’ve ever clicked on a weird thing.
Should we allow disgusting things to be shown on the internet?
No. But, at the same time, it’s open to the whole world. It’s an open forum. You choose to put stuff on there and you choose what to avoid.
Stephen, 28, animator: Oh god. Probably a man's head being cut off. It was quite disturbing.
It seems like there's a bit of a decapitation trend going on here.
Yeah, it's mostly all that stuff in the Middle East, isn’t it?
I suppose so. What was your reaction?
It was like a car crash; you don’t want to look but you can’t help it. I watched it out of curiosity. Someone sent me a link and I clicked on it.
Was the internet created to show disturbing content?
I don’t think it was created for that, but I don’t think it should be restricted, either. It’s a place for people to upload what they want to upload.
Even if it’s a video of someone’s head getting chopped off?
Well, you don’t have to click on it. It’s not like it would be called fluffyheads.com – it’d be called fuckingupheads.com, or something.
Good point, Stephen.
Nicola, 21, Intern: Oh, I don’t know. What’s that gross one with the octopus coming out of a vagina?
I don’t know – you’re meant to tell me.
I don’t really look up that many disturbing things – I'm not a weirdo. Okay, maybe The Human Centipede trailer. I hated it and I had nightmares. I couldn’t sleep for ages.
Juan, 32, record label worker: Okay, let me warn you – it’s a bit rude, so I'm sorry if you're offended. But anyway, a girl took a shit in an ice cream thing and her friend ate it.
Did you know the girl?
Nah, nah – it was a viral thing. You could see peoples' reactions to it on YouTube, but I watched the original footage. It wasn’t very nice. I was pretty shocked because it was so horrible.
Did it make you want to write an angry letter and have the internet censored?
No, it doesn’t bother me, to be honest. Personally, I think it’s fine. But I can understand how other people might take things the wrong way.
I'm not sure what other way you could take one girl shitting in another's mouth.
Previously - Which Building Would You Steal the Keys to?