"We do not have to visit a madhouse to find disordered minds; our planet is the mental institution of the universe."
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)
A friend at work recently turned me on to the latest YouTube craze - JK Wedding Entrance Dance - which features the wedding procession of a Minnesota couple who decided to funkify their nuptials by having the whole wedding party do a hip-hop dance down the aisle.
It's an uplifting thing to see; they've taken what can be a sombre part of the marriage ceremony and turned it into a joyful parade.
So far, JK Wedding Entrance Dance has been viewed nearly 17 million times, the couple behind it has been interviewed on American television, and they're using their notoriety to raise money to help stop domestic violence.
Even so, they've got a ways to go to reach the Susan Boyle mark.
The frumpy 47-year-old Scottish singer was a worldwide sensation when she gave a jaw-dropping performance on "Britain's Got Talent," belting out "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Miserables to the judges' astonishment.
That show-stopping number has been viewed more than 72.5 million times on YouTube so far.
Popular, heartwarming videos like these two represent the best of YouTube, where anyone can post a video and hope to attract more than 15 minutes of fame.
When nearly everyone you know has seen something like Susan Boyle's triumph-of-the-underdog performance, it makes you feel part of a shared experience.
It's almost like back in the old days, when television only came with two channels and you could rest assured that everyone in your orbit was at home watching "The Wonderful World of Disney" and "The Waltons" on a Sunday night.
In today's 10-gazillion channel universe - not to mention the increasingly popular antisocial trend of watching TV shows solo on your computer - anything that creates a sense of community, even if it only last 2.01 minutes, is a good thing.
But there's a dark side to YouTube, as well.
And you need look no further than Wednesday's Telegram to find two perfect examples.
An article from The Canadian Press in Montreal described a Quebec father who posted a YouTube video showing his seven-year-old son driving the family car down a country road. And not only was the driver a decade too young to be driving, but none of his three passengers appeared to be wearing seatbelts, including the young girl sitting on a woman's lap in the backseat.
"I posted it (online) because I was proud of my little guy because he was able to drive a car," the dad said.
And while he admits it was a mistake, he said he doesn't know what all the fuss is about.
"They're making it out as though I killed someone," he said.
He may not have killed anyone, but his stupidity sure could've.
Unfortunately, it's not only the misguided among us who know how to operate video cameras.
A second Canadian Press story in the same edition of The Telegram described a YouTube video called "Duck Hunting," which features video-game theme music and three sadistic bastards shooting at ducks and ducklings in a prairie pond from the window of their car.
The video is disturbing and disgusting. Do yourself a favour and don't watch it.
When they spot a mother duck and ducklings bobbing in the water, one of them quips, "They don't need Mommy anymore," and shoots the mother duck dead.
"Boom!" the shooter crows.
Then they kill another duck, as well as the helpless ducklings, shooting them multiple times.
"That was a f--king massacre," one guy notes with satisfaction.
The video runs 4.40 minutes. I couldn't get through it. But it has been viewed more than 8,500 times.
"It's just waste and carnage," Perry McCormick of Ducks Unlimited told CTV Calgary.
He said the three men could face dozens of charges. The good news is that the loathsome trio - as with many YouTube yahoos - were so intent on filming themselves that they made no attempt to hide their identities, so here's hoping they're rounded up real soon.
"They're shooting waterfowl with rifles, which is not allowed," McCormick said.
"They're shooting out of season, they're not collecting their game, which they're supposed to ... (and they) don't have licences."
Not to mention they're being deliberately cruel to animals, and enjoying it. The ducks aren't "game," the killing is a game.
Now, I'm aware that by mentioning this abominable video some people might be spurred to view it, thereby giving the duck-killers the publicity they obviously crave. But I believe most people will want to shield themselves from such brutality.
Still, it is a stunning example of our capacity for savagery, as well as a small window into the human freakshow that is voluntarily put on display online every day, for all the world to see.
Because the sad truth is, for every Susan Boyle and joyful wedding video out there in cyberspace, there's a monster or two just waiting for you to click the play button to let the show begin.
Pam Frampton is The Telegram's story editor. She can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com. Read her columns online at www.thetelegram.com.