This is a cold, hard world.
Politicians promise us the heavens and then spend their time in office stealing from us. Pastors and preachers — the upright moral leaders who are supposed to guide us through life — are caught in flagrante delicto with women they most definitely aren’t married to. Athletes inspire us by shattering records we thought would stand for eons only for us to find out they were pumped full of more banned substances than a herd of cattle.
But if there was anyone we thought we could still have trust in, it would be social media users desperate to become quasi-celebrities by going viral. Alas, that last bastion of trust may have just been shattered, all thanks to former NASA engineer Mark Rober.
You may have heard of Rober as the guy who put together a glitter bomb fake package in order to catch package thieves during the holiday season. His YouTube video was nine minutes of pure, unadulterated perp shaming. Even the device itself was a thing of genius, as you would expect from a NASA engineer. It had four different cameras, a pound of glitter distributed via a fan, fart spray and other fun stuff.
“If you’ve ever been in a situation like this, you just sort of feel violated. And then I took this to the police, and even with the video evidence, they said it’s just not worth their time to look into. So then you also feel powerless. I just felt like something needs to be done to take a stand against dishonest punks like this,” Rober said, according to The Daily Wire.
“And then I was like, hold up: I built a dart board that moves to get a bulls-eye every time; I spent nine years designing hardware that’s currently moving around on another freaking planet. If anyone that was going to make a revenge bait package and over-engineer the crap out of it, it was going to be me.”
And that he did:
After watching that, who cares whether we land someone on Mars? NASA has already done its job.
Or so we thought. <cue ominous music>
See, apparently, a few of the commenters noticed that some of the reactions in the original video seemed a bit, well, fake. Rober owned up to that fact in a Twitter post last week, although he swore it wasn’t intentional.
“I removed 1.5 mins of footage from the video since originally uploading. I was presented with information that caused me to doubt the veracity of two of the five reactions in the video,” he wrote.
“These were reactions that were captured during a two-week period while the device was at a house two hours away from where I live. I put a feeler out for people willing to put a package on their porch and this person (who’s a friend of a friend) volunteered to help. To compensate them for their time and willingness to risk putting a package on their porch, I offered financial compensation for any successful recoveries of the package.
“It appears (and I’ve since confirmed) in these two cases, the ‘thieves’ were actually acquaintances of the person helping me. From the footage I received from the phones, which intentionally only record at specific times, this wasn’t obvious to me. I have since removed those reactions from the original video.”
I posted this as a comment response to my recent viral tweet/video but I’m posting it as a new tweet as well: pic.twitter.com/g2VHsQWh1z
— Mark Rober (@MarkRober) December 20, 2018
Rober apologized but still admitted the blame lay with just one person.
“Ultimately, I am responsible for the content that goes on my channel and I should have done more here,” Rober wrote.
“I can vouch that the reactions were genuine when the package was taken from my house. Having said that, I know my credibility is sort of shot, but I encourage you to look at the types of videos I’ve been making for the past seven years. This is my first ever video with some kind of ‘prank,’ and like I mentioned in the video, it’s pretty removed from my comfort zone. I should have done more. Full stop. I’m especially gutted because so much thought, time, money, and effort went into building the device, and I hope this doesn’t just taint the entire effort as ‘fake.’
“It genuinely works (like all the other things I’ve built on my channel) and we’ve made all the code and build info public,” he concluded. “Again, I’m sorry for putting something up on my channel that was misleading. That is totally on me and I will take all necessary steps to make sure it won’t happen again.”
Say it ain’t so, Mark. Say it ain’t so!
Look, considering the rather low bar set by the denizens of YouTube when it comes to the veracity and maturity of prank videos (my Christmas wish is that we lived in a world where nobody, not a solitary soul, had ever heard of the Jalals) I’m pretty sure this still qualifies as being on the up-and-up.
Yes, he probably should have been a bit more diligent in editing the footage. Then again, this guy is an amateur. In 1992, “Dateline NBC” set off rockets to ensure the gas tank on a truck blew up in order to insinuate the design left it prone to explosions — and the show was on the air for the next 26 years.
The package thief video has been re-edited and apparently contains all-authentic footage. As far as I’m concerned, it still deserves every one of its 46 million views. As long as this is all Rober has to confess, I think we can safely say things are forgiven.
As for “Dateline NBC” and the Jalals, well, not so much.
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