4 Unfortunate Incidents That Went Down While a Webcam Was On

When someone tells you to film yourself with a gun in your underwear, just don’t
4 Unfortunate Incidents That Went Down While a Webcam Was On

The webcam was invented in 1993, when a group of scientists realized the internet might be a great way of sharing live footage of their genitals. Of course, that doesn’t make for a very wholesome origin story, so all legitimate sources instead say the first webcam monitored a coffee pot, and the genital origin motive is pure speculation. 

Still, there’s nothing pure about how webcams were used in the decades that followed. Consider how webcams managed to record such stuff as...

Getting Shot in the Vagina

In November 2021, a deputy in Georgia responded to a report of what’s known as “reckless conduct.” The address was 95 Manly Road, but the injury was not manly: A woman had been shot in the vagina. Though no one but the woman claimed to have seen the shooting itself, the small home contained five people to offer accounts of what had occurred. 

There was Grandma Addie, who was in her bed in the TV room with her granddaughter when Lauren walked in and said she’d been shot. Grandma’s son Cody was in his bedroom, and since he had some medical knowledge, he treated Lauren till emergency services arrives. Some guy named Jason was there, offering no information at all. Then there was the owner of the gun, Jordan. Who among them was responsible for the painful discharge?

Lauren Chaturbate gunshot model

via polemicaparaiba

Bet the baby granddaughter shot her. It’s always the one you least suspect. 

The answer turned out to be Lauren herself. Laren was a Chaturbate model, and she’d been recording some special gun-themed activity for viewers when she accidentally pulled the trigger. She went to the hospital over the injury and was patched up and out after a week. 

The deputy had trouble piecing the events together while originally on the scene (he wrote down the adult site’s name as “Chatter” in his report), but his higher-ups understood the situation well enough. “Oh, a camgirl shot herself in the vagina during a performance?” a superior evidently said. “Pretty straightforward. That’s a 16-5-60.”

The Pelting of the Tortured Artist

Artist Wafaa Bilal had an idea for a performance piece in 2007. He was going to live in an art gallery for a month and be viewed on a webcam 24/7 (except for trips to the bathroom), and throughout it all, he’d let users remotely fire paintballs at him. He’d been a refugee following the First Gulf War, and during this latest Iraq War, he was giving people at home the chance to “Shoot an Iraqi” — remotely, much like how the military operate drones.

If people refused to participate, then he’d have produced some humanity out of them. If people did participate and fired the gun using their web browser, they’d prove the point he was aiming to make. Performance art is win-win. There was no way it could go wrong — until stuff did go wrong. For starters, Bilal didn’t actually want paintballs hitting his body. A pane of plexiglass was supposed to protect him (viewers were just symbolically shooting him by firing that gun). But this pane soon broke, so for much of the experiment, the balls hit him with full force, which had not been the plan.

Wafaa Bilal Domestic Tension

Wafaa Bilal

He didn’t wear nearly enough armor for this.

Then came the next problem. People who logged on to chat with Bilal and shoot him quickly felt unsatisfied with the restrictions placed by the setup. So, someone hacked into the gallery’s server and lifted the limits on the paint gun. Users now proceeded to shoot him 20,000 times within a 24-hour period. That’s roughly once every four seconds. 

Bilal emerged from the project with even more PTSD than he’d earlier had from living through an actual war. But at least the performance piece (titled Domestic Tension) succeeded at proving his point, which was, um, we’d have to read his book to remember what that was. 

A Notable Day at White Island Volcano

The greatest use for webcams has always been watching uninterrupted footage of scenes from around the world, rather than people purposely putting on shows. Phones with cameras have made webcams redundant in some ways, but only with a webcam can you, say, watch a lawn and wait for foxes to arrive or spy on the Easter Island statues to see if they move when no one’s around. 

Or, how about you take a look at an active volcano? The below webcam shot shows the crater rim of Whakaari, a volcano in New Zealand. You don’t see a lava lake because, like many volcanos, the crater is capped with solid rock, which would be breached only if the volcano erupts. This volcano erupted on December 9, 2019, one minute after the webcam captured that image. 

Whakaari crater

GNS Science

To see the eruption, we’d have to switch to a farther camera.

That photo shows hikers, if you look carefully. The crater rim of Whakaari was not a safe place to be that day if you were a webcam, and it was especially not a safe place to be if you were a hiker. The eruption killed 22 people, which was a big chunk of the island’s population at the time. The remaining 25 people on the island suffered burns. No one permanently lives on Whakaari, but people go there for tourism, and that was one day when people should have stayed away. 

The company who managed the volcano faced a million-dollar fine for allowing the tourists to come despite knowing an eruption was likely imminent. Companies with their own volcano bases already have a reputation for evil, and this guilty verdict only contributes to the stereotype.

The Victims of Mr. Dinkel

William Francis Melchert-Dinkel had an unusual fetish. He became aroused by people killing themselves. And we don’t want to kink shame, but — wait, no, actually we will kink shame in this case.

To satisfy his fetish, Dinkel chatted online in search of depressed people. He posed as a suicidal young woman, a nurse named “Cami.” He encouraged the people he chatted with to kill themselves by entering into suicide pacts with them. Hanging was the surest method, he said, citing experience as a nurse. And to make sure they made no mistake, he urged them to hang themselves in front of a webcam, as he looked on and advised.

Mark Drybrough Nadia Kajouji
His targets lived in Canada and England, while he lived in Minnesota. The internet knows no boundaries.

Police charged Dinkel with encouraging two people to kill themselves, in 2005 and 2008. Dinkel himself claimed to have entered into eight further pacts, resulting in three additional suicides. His case went all the way to the Minnesota Supreme Court, who noted that merely encouraging someone to kill themselves cannot be a crime, under the Constitution. This was true, but prosecutors now retried him for assisting in two suicides, and these charges stuck. 

He ultimately served six months in prison, which you might say is not that long. He was also suspended from his job — as a nurse. Yeah, turns out that when he was lying about his identity to his victims, he wasn’t lying about that part. 

If you yourself are wrestling with thoughts of self-harm, consider talking to a medical professional. Just, make sure it’s not this particular medical professional. 

Follow Ryan Menezes on Twitter for more stuff no one should see.

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