Not all heroes wear capes. 3rdEyeDude, an anonymous Bangalore techie uses a Pivothead camera to capture videos of road traffic violations, and reports them to the city police on Twitter.
“I get lots and lots of hate — at least 20 people who have told me you should be killed,” says ThirdEyeDude, while DMing me some of the hateful comments he’s received on his YouTube channel. “I want you to die in a road accident and the person who killed you should be awarded,” says one YouTube commenter. It’s no wonder then, that he chooses to remain anonymous.
Among motovloggers, 3rdEyeDude is a sort of outlier. This tribe typically focuses on the finer aspects of biking, such as high-end motorcycles, gear, and getaways. Bad Drivers of Bangalore, his YouTube channel, focuses solely on videos of traffic violators in the city. Through his discrete Pivothead camera, he captures signal and stop line violators, pavement riders, helmetless riders, noise and air polluters, and other forms of reckless behaviour. On Twitter, 3rdEyeDude dishes out well-deserved, if not instant, karma, by reporting violations to the Bangalore Traffic Police.
Among motovloggers, 3rdEyeDude is a sort of outlier. Bad Drivers of Bangalore, his YouTube channel, focuses solely on videos of traffic violators in the city
April was 3EyeDude’s best month yet, with over a million views on one of his videos, a compilation of some of his infuriating experiences. His most watched video captures a lot of Bangalore’s road annoyances — it sees him confronting a belligerent rickshaw driver for leaving thick curtains of exhaust smoke, a scooter rider with one hand on her smartphone while on the road, blatant violation of lane discipline, and more.
It’s taken me around two weeks to nail an interaction with him, and he agreed to meet me on the on the condition that he stay anonymous. Our conversation is live and animated, the 3rdEyeDude pulling up dashboard stats, salty comments, prosecutions, and other shenanigans to substantiate his statements.
OK, so tell us a bit about the exact incident that made you start your YouTube and Twitter avatars
It was around two years ago. I was going to the hospital. Before this incident too, I was concerned about road safety. It was around 2-3pm at a signal in Bannerghatta Road. It was near a Fortis hospital — the total area was a no honking zone. There was a red signal, and there was a transport or courier delivery vehicle. It was completely honking — and I told them not to do that in a no honking zone. They got very angry, and pulled me over in the middle of the road, and took my (bike) key away, and kept on punching me. I wasn’t that hurt, but I had a few bruises. They took my key away and threw it somewhere in the middle of the road. I went to the police station and made a written complaint and noted down the number. They said that they will search (for) it, but I’ve still not seen any action.
So, the inspiration came from channels like Bad Drivers of California. They do the same thing.
Basically, I do it for my security. I really had a plan after that incident. I did not buy a GoPro because if you have a helmet and a GoPro, it will be visible to them. Whereas I am using a Pivothead, so they don’t know I am recording.
Almost each one of these crazy bikers who spends (Rs) 6-10 lakh on it, everyone has a recorder. I don’t know if insurance takes video footage as evidence, but I know that in the US they do accept videos as proof. The point is — if you have met with an accident, you have proof. I’m using it as proof, as well as to create awareness.
How do you confront people on the streets, given the potential threat to your life and wellbeing?
If you see my older videos, I was frustrated, and I used F words. But now I have stopped it. I am very kind. (He shares a link of a recent altercation.) Being kind to people works; instead of using foul language. Some people ask me now — how do you control your aggression? I say it’s because I have gotten used to it.
Every video of yours is a compilation of gaffes on Bangalore roads. Any idea why this video got over a million views?
I don’t know, probably someone shared it. Maybe because of the thumbnail as well. It’s probably the way I confront people and tell them to drive properly. Another video of mine has over a lakh views, this is the first video that went viral.
How do you report violations?
There is an online portal where you can post a picture and write what is the violation, and you punch in the registration number. Even on Twitter, if you tag them, they are active enough and following up on it.
— ThirdEye (@3rdEyeDude) December 10, 2016
— ThirdEye (@3rdEyeDude) October 19, 2016
You’ve also captured some of Bangalore’s atrocious infrastructure. That light pole in the middle of a road was bonkers…
Yeah, that’s on Silk Board. I also report flex installations on the road. An ad that was blocking pedestrian movement was removed on my request. On Twitter, I focus on everything related to civic sense.
Were you always a media creator? How did you become media savvy?
I’m just a software engineer concerned about road safety and civic sense. I have switched on the monetisation on the channel, but frankly it’s peanuts. I get 0.4 dollars (USD) a day. (*He shows me his AdSense account on his smartphone*) I’m getting 22 dollars, it’s showing. This is despite my video going viral. Over my lifetime, this channel has gotten less than 50 dollars.
What are some of the reactions you typically get?
At least 20 people have told me, you should be killed. Every time I upload a video, there will be 10 dislikes immediately. There are people waiting for my new video, just to dislike it.
I get comments like “You are unemployed, you are doing this only for money.” One commenter accuses me of degrading the value of the country in the eyes of the World Bank. Others say (I’m) against the country, against Bangalore, etc. The people posting such comments, it just shows (their) lack of civic sense.
I get comments like “You are unemployed, you are doing this only for money.” Others say (I’m) against the country, against Bangalore, etc. The people posting such comments, it just shows (their) lack of civic sense
Many people in the comments, they don’t know anything, they just watch videos and judge. If they have seen my story behind it, I am pretty sure they would change their minds. I have replied to those comments — do read it and come back. And they are very positive after that.
There are a few comments which speak about privacy concerns. I agree. In my recent videos, I mask all incidents. Since the last three to four videos, I have started masking faces.
The Bangalore police has been quite responsive, by the looks of it
They never ignore my tweets. As soon as I post it, they reply. They are very interactive. They always take action. The Additional Commissioner, he’s very supportive. He called me to his office, but I couldn’t go there.
— ThirdEye (@3rdEyeDude) April 23, 2017
Tell us a bit about your creative process in coming up with new videos
I was initially hesitant — it was around last January when I started creating videos every week, consistently. I upload a new video once every week. I gather all the footage when I drive home from office. It’s like a 40-minute drive. I get six days of footage every week. Every 10 minutes, you can find 15-20 crazy moments. Within a minute, you can see 20 people jumping signals. If I had to put in everything, every video of mine would be three hours long. My videos are short, around five to six minutes.
Any other channels doing similar things like you are, on Youtube?
Indian Hellrider. He has lots of subscribers. He’s very rude — I don’t know if he’s bothered about his safety or not.
Any thoughts on revealing your identity in the future?
I want to reveal my identity as well, with a live video. But since there are concerns — I don’t know when you can bump into some crazy guy who beats you up, that’s why I have decided not to reveal my identity.
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This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity. Update: 10.10 AM IST, 6 May 2017: Fixed some typos in the article. Lead visual: Nikhil Raj