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Conditioning Behavior: The Slow Motion Death of YouTuber Nikocado Avocado

A man on YouTube is eating himself to death and people can't stop watching.

By Sean PatrickPublished 2 years ago 5 min read
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Recently in my YouTube recommendations I was recommended a video by a channel called Cruel World Happy Mind. In January of this year the channel published a video called “How Nikocado Avocado Destroyed His Life.” Prior to watching this video, I had no idea who Nikocado Avocado was. After watching this video I am fascinated by him as a phenomenon and what it says about our culture of clout and fame.

For those who are blissfully unaware of Nikocado Avocado, he is a man who hosts a YouTube show wherein he consumes massive amounts of food, he cries, he complains, he sells merchandise, and it’s all very odd. He performs what are called Mukbangs, a phenomenon that appears to have its origins in South Korea. Teens and some adults in South Korea began eating in front of their webcam and commenting on what they were eating and people watched them eat and interacted with each other.

It seemingly began as a way for people to connect with each other, lonely people defeating their loneliness via a community of people sharing a virtual meal together. As the phenomenon took hold some of the people originating these streams became popular and gained a large following. As tends to happen however, as something grows in popularity it attracts more and more creators to the popular trend. And, in order to stand out from the growing crowd of Mukbang content creators, one needed to go to further and further extremes.

This is where Nikocado Avocado comes in. Before entering the world of Mukbang, Nikocado Avocado made his name as a Vegan YouTuber. He would make Vegan food on camera and talk about the vegan lifestyle. Eventually however, Nikocado Avocado became disenchanted with the Vegan community and abandoned veganism. Seeing Mukbang on the rise, Nikocado Avocado jumped on the trend and found success combining eating ludicrous amounts of food and creating and commenting on drama within the YouTube community.

As Nikocado Avocado’s fame grew something began to happen that is rather frightening and concerning. Slowly via the constant reward of attention, fame, and money, Nikocado Avocado began to unconsciously condition himself to seek reward for this behavior. Conditioning, in the psychological sense, is really very simple. You’ve conditioned yourself and your family without even knowing it. On night’s mom doesn’t make dinner, kids can be conditioned to think they are getting fast food. It’s not an intentional conditioning, it is organic, it’s a symbol that leads to a seeming reward.

Not all conditioning is so benign however and that’s where we return to Nikocado Avocado. Having spent the past three years as a Mukbang YouTuber, Nikocado Avocado has conditioned himself to go on camera, eat ludicrous amounts of food, cry and perform bizarre physical comedy wherein he covers himself in food or harms himself in some way. Doing this has repeatedly rewarded him with higher and higher view counts and larger payouts from YouTube. He’s now conditioned himself in the classically Pavlovian sense. Perform an action, receive an award.

Nikocado Avocado exhibits ever more extreme behavior and finds even more reward or merely a continuation of rewards and thus he keeps going and going. As you can see from watching Cruel World Happy Mind’s video, Nikocado Avocado has grown more and more and more unhealthy. His weight has grown to a dangerous degree. His conditioning has become such that he can’t stop even as he is clearly in pain and in danger of increasing harm and potentially death. It’s a terrifying and morbidly fascinating situation.

More than 3.12 million subscribers are slowly watching a man eat himself to death. As they watch, they contribute to his conditioning, the continuing rewards of attention, fame and money. We are watching Pavlov’s darkest experiment and there is nothing anyone can do about it. He’s not committing a crime, he’s only harming himself. It should feel wrong and it probably does feel wrong to watch Nikocado Avocado destroy himself and yet millions of people can’t stop watching.

I’ve still never seen one of Nikocado Avocado’s videos for myself, I have only seen what Cruel World Happy Mind used in her video. But, from that evidence it is clear that what we have in Nikocado Avocado is a terrifying example of what can happen when people begin to seek online fame at any cost. In a culture that rewards extreme behavior with financial gain and positive attention, we are creating a culture of conditioning. It’s happening almost unconsciously. No one sets out to create this conditioning, generally speaking, but our fascination with extreme behavior creates this conditioning and with Nikocado Avocado, we are seeing arguably the most extreme and seemingly unstoppable and bleak example of our cultural conditioning.

In a classic Halloween episode of The Simpsons, advertising icons came to life and began wreaking havoc all over Springfield. The only way to stop these monsters was with a jingle that implored the populace of Springfield to “Just Don’t Look.” Taking attention away from them destroyed the ad monsters and saved the town. I would love to say that our problem with Nikocado Avocado and other examples of extreme online behaviors were to “Just Don’t Look” but I’m not sure it’s that simple. As viewers we are also being conditioned. For more than 3 million people, watching Nikocado Avocado is part of a routine. The reward of watching him slowly kill himself is a constant morbid fascination fueled by the dopamine of fear and curiosity.

One feeds the other to create a sort of circuitous conditioning. Even those who might want to look away cannot because they have trained themselves to keep watching this tragedy unfold. The fact is, the only thing that will stop this unintentionally conditioned behavior is for YouTube to step in and take away NIkocado Avocado’s channel. The reward for him and for his viewers needs to be taken away by YouTube or it will not stop until he dies in a very public and terrifying fashion.

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About the Creator

Sean Patrick

Hello, my name is Sean Patrick He/Him, and I am a film critic and podcast host for the I Hate Critics Movie Review Podcast I am a voting member of the Critics Choice Association, the group behind the annual Critics Choice Awards.

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