Every day, every step we take, every place we go, everything we see is constantly being captured on social media. As a teenager, I’ve seen it all. The constant Instagram scrolling, tweeting, and snapchatting that-when successful-generates plenty of buzz from one’s peers. However, many have gone much farther than the typical concert, party, (and even the much coveted Hamilton) pictures. Recently, people have gone to extremes just to get likes on Instagram. It leaves me baffled; why would people want to purposefully endanger themselves for the sake of popularity?
Justin Casquejo, now 18, was originally busted back in 2014 for scaling the Freedom Tower, which gave way to 30 days of community service. He was arrested a few days ago for scaling a 67 story building that was a private residence in the Financial District of Manhattan after turning himself in. He captured this feat on his YouTube channel and Instagram, in which he prides himself for being “limitless.” The thrill seeking teenager has been reportedly “taking stupidity to new heights,” as said by the New York Post.
While his stunts are death defying and clearly extremely dangerous, they bring him joy. The news outlets that criticize him tend not to acknowledge the breathtaking artisticness of his photography. He has impressively pushed the envelope, but the views are beautiful.
The Post had failed to recognize that Casquejo was not trying to downplay the way that other people use social media down on the ground, but to inspire people by showing them what they are potentially capable of. His Instagram bio reads, “To create Art that Inspires; to make deep human connections.” While I initially assumed that he was just another self absorbed, attention seeking teenager on social media, I realized that it was really the views and heights that he was focused on, and not necessarily himself.
Too many people are constantly on their phones and not acknowledging the beautiful things that surround us every day. Casquejo is showcasing that we all need to take a look around more, even if it may not be from the top of the highest buildings in New York City. The fact that he turned himself in goes to show that he is willing to sacrifice himself for the sake of his art and his inspirational message.
While I do not plan on scaling New York City landmarks any time soon, I do plan on taking a look around more often, to realize the true intensity of the good things that encompass us every single day. Even amid the turmoil of modern politics and culture itself, we are lucky to be alive right now. You don’t have to endanger yourself like Justin Casquejo has, but it is important to have your own artistic view of your environment, as he has illustrated.