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February 09, 2012  | by: Dania McDermott

Once dubbed the home for “piano-playing cats, celeb goof-ups and overzealous lip-synchers,” YouTube has become an indelible aspect of the internet user’s repertoire since its 2005 inception. Just as everyday queries lead most to Google, YouTube is the primary go-to when words and pictures simply aren’t enough.

Birthing its own league of stars – from hair gurus to guitar prodigies – the website has even managed to catapult teens like Justin Bieber and Soulja Boy into mainstream prevalence – a testament to the power of its platform that redefines our notions of “how to make it.”

But not everyone on the video sharing site is competing for the attention of shrewd record execs or vying for the title of best eye-shadow tutor. Some simply want to pay their respects.

And we’re not talking about stills of Michael Jackson in his coffin or images of Anna Nicole Smith in a body bag; those are nothing more than a static picture (or two) of a dead celebrity – a morbid treat that a bevy of other websites could provide.

We’re referring to the bereaved and unfamous; the normal, everyday people who upload videos of their deceased loved ones in full funeral garb as a modern-day, makeshift memorial. Just check out this creepy tearjerker:

Of course, a tribute like Baby Hingano’s is inevitably more well-received than others, but the belief that grief is a private affair still permeates all videos of this ilk – even those that feature babies. One memorial that caused considerable outrage features a deceased woman filmed in her coffin by two presumably tween-aged kids who aren’t above using a little humor in their homage:

Though the uploader relieves himself of responsibility by assuring viewers that the video was shared by “kids” (who were punished, he holds), he also hasn’t bothered to remove it since it appeared in 2009. And with over 600,000 views since, it’s safe to say that “Betty Boo’s” (Boop’s?) tribute has garnered his three-video-channel a gamut of attention he would not have experienced otherwise (not that he seems to care about that sort of thing).

But for every slew of comments chastising the decision to publicly giggle over someone’s corpse, labeling it sick, disrespectful and the like, juts one or two responses from the curious and unbothered: “She was a beautiful woman,” says one user. “How did she die?” asks another.

And then, from a humble and unanswered corner, one Youtuber challenges the collective e-shunning outright: “A lot of people say this is sick, but none of them have a rational explanation for their opinion.”

Indeed, the most rational explanation we found was that given the choice, most people wouldn’t want their dead mug all up on somebody’s monitor. And if the person expressly said, “I do not want my dead likeness on the internet,” the decision to ignore their request could certainly be classified as disrespectful. But it’s doubtful such requests were made – and on the off-chance they were, does that qualify the deed as sick?

Of a questionable taste level is probably more apt, though ultimately, the trend makes perfect sense. The people who choose to upload footage of their dead Uncle Jack operate on the same thinly-veiled exhibitionism as many an Internet user. From the banal to the deeply personal, they’re the types who share too much, too often on Facebook. Generally lacking filters, their willingness to maniacally “give” of themselves depreciates the (perceived) value of anything they offer – well-intentioned memorials included.

They are the fodder upon which the internet was built – the sensationalists, the provocateurs, the desperate. So while they exercise their right to use the web as a means to share everything, remember that you’re not required to leave a barrage of condemning replies either – it only earns the sick spectacle more attention in the long run.

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