Sunday, April 7, 2013

Internet+Reality TV=Sociopathy

At a fairly young age, I came to the realization that a lot of people, in fact most people, have a tiny little horrible demon-person living inside of them. Most of the time, a bigger, better angel-person takes up more space and is responsible for more actions, but the awful little demon still exists. When people were more likely to interact in person, this little demon rarely got a chance to speak. Either their own, larger angel stopped them or their fellow angels intervened. Thanks to the internet and reality TV, we've fed, indulged, raised, and crafted this little demon into a giant, steroid-injected, snarling beast. Why are we so surprised it has us in a stranglehold?

Showing my age slightly, the internet was a developing phenomenon when I was a child. Most of the pubic sector did not have access to it in any way. As such, when people interacted with each other, it was in person because that was the only way to do it. You could interact a little on the phone, but no texting, unless you both had a phone for deaf people, and you still couldn't take it with you everywhere.

Obviously, this has changed. People primarily interact without actually interacting. This often has no consequence, or at least many people have led themselves to believe it has no consequence. People go online to their Facebook pages, to Reddit, to Twitter, to Youtube, to the blog of someone they hate and post the most disgusting, awful, rude, degrading, uncivil, embarrassing things about other people. Sometimes it's people they know, 99.99999999999999999999% of the time it's not. If it were people they knew, there might be a possibility of consequence.

I LOVE how brave and bold everyone is when they think they can get away with it. It shows us what beasts we really are regardless of how self-righteous we act. I love anything that reminds us of that. I DON'T love that I am regularly and graphically told how and by whom I should be raped, or that I'm not even desirable to be worth raping, or how I should be murdered, or how I should be slowly and endlessly tortured but not killed because if I died my suffering would be over, or what a bitch, cunt, slut, whore, cum dumpster, etc. I am. Of course, this is only because I'm a woman. People wouldn't dare say these things to a man. They say other awful things to men, but it's rarely that violent or sexual. Any woman who's done anything online has experienced this from someone.

They wouldn't dare say it in person either. Not to play the old, "SAY IT TO MAH FACE, BIATCH!" card but...well...go ahead. Say it to my face. I DARE you. Oooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, that's right. You wouldn't say it to my face. You wouldn't dare even whisper it under your breath in my presence because you know there could be some kind of consequence, even if it's something so small as me giving you a dirty look. That's how puny, frightened, little, sniveling shits these "big beasts" are. The puniest, most powerless "beasts," tend to be the ones who feel powerless in personal their interactions (MRA's anyone?). 

EVERYBODY is guilty. I'm certainly not pointing fingers or saying I've never made controversial or hurtful statements to anyone online, though I have never once threatened physical or sexual violence. I am as honest as I can be. I give my real name when possible, I show my real face when possible and I have and will and DO say a great deal of these things in public, to people's faces, sometimes in front of crowds with no compunction. The main difference is that I may use fewer curse words....maybe.

The secondary difference is that when I do this in person, people can't misconstrue anything I say unless they have Asperger's. They're not envisioning that I'm angry, or joking, or being serious, or being ironic because they can SEE my expressions and HEAR my inflection. They don't fantasize about what I would look like or sound like if I were saying this to them in person. Thus, they realize I'm not personally attacking them just to be mean and therefore they never feel the need to launch a vicious counterattack.

The internet is not such a clear platform. Sarcasm and seriousness are confused CONSTANTLY and often end up in violent and harmful virtual flame wars, mostly between strangers, for no good reason....not that there's really any good reason to have a flame war.

Although people aren't willing to act like total beasts in person, they still somehow get the idea that it's okay to treat other people like shit and that they, themselves, really are the center of the universe. So no, they would not say to me, to my face that I am a fat, ugly cum dumpster that should be gang raped by chimpanzees then given a thousand paper cuts for a bunch of hobos to pee in (mostly because people this weak are rarely this creative). They would, however, talk to me and their fellow human beings in a way that is less than gracious.

A lot of people don't think they have to have manners, though they seem to think everyone else needs to treat them with respect. They don't think other people have feelings. They have feelings and everyone else has to cater to them. We can't complain. This is how they were trained.

This may sound a little kooky, but I think some component of this is at least partially responsible for the gruesome rapes, shootings, suicides, and other horrible what have you's that seem to be alarmingly frequent these days.

One could argue that they're not more frequent than before, but we just hear about them more now because of 24 hour news media, nearly unlimited, instant access to information and the nation's increased appetite for sensationalism. Regardless, the fact that it happens at all, whether it's more or less than before, is unacceptable. In an age where anyone is literally allowed to say anything to anyone else and get away with it with NO consequence whatsoever, is it any surprise that people see each other as disposable?

That paired with the reality TV everyone is guzzling down by the bucket certainly has an influence on people. To say it doesn't is ridiculous. Read The Narcissism Epidemic if you want facts and figures. Arguably, children learn the difference between fantasy and reality at a young age which is why, despite watching Bugs Bunny and Tom and Jerry reruns, no child I ever met even thought to drop an anvil on anyone or to eat animals alive or to take turns getting hunters to shoot their friends; and I can't speak for anyone else, but I did play a LOT of video games as a kid, and I must be honest, I have never ONCE even desired to stomp on a mushroom, ride a dinosaur, or climb down sewage pipes.

Let's assume, just for the sake of argument, kids do know the difference between fantasy and reality. What do we do when fantasy is being sold as reality? Internet and reality TV aren't really fantasy. Most people with a few brain cells to rub that together realize how unreal reality TV is, and how people's online personae don't always match their real personalities, but a lot of people don't have that many brain cells. If they did, TMZ wouldn't exist. Even when they do, these things still influence and affect them.

Again, for the sake of argument, let's say that everyone knows that in reality TV, certain scenarios are set up or are edited together in ways that show a picture that didn't actually happen. Even in this case, the viewer can't know exactly when, where, or how. They can't know how much of it is real or how much is a setup. They can't know how many events are genuine, and how many are edited to seem genuine. This is where the line between fantasy and reality is blurred. If people watch a TV show that involves actors, writers, directors, etc., of course they know that 100% of what they're being shown is make believe even if it's based on a real story. We've completely smudged the line between fantasy and reality.

So, when you have a bunch of people running around expressing themselves in ways previously considered to be appropriate only for a true psychopath, who are being shown that such behavior at best can make them rich and famous and at worst has absolutely no consequence, do we REALLY have the right to be surprised when kids send pics of their junk to each other, commit suicide over internet comments, shoot up their schools, or plot the graphic rape and murder of another student and upload it all to Youtube?

We've taught them at a very young age, these are the three things that being rich and famous are the most important things you can be and that these are the three ways to make it happen:

1. Act like an asshole
2. Act like a porn star
3. Record every minute of it

Again, to point to The Narcissism Epidemic these are not coincidences. Kids dreams now are "to be famous." As first glance, this seems normal because everybody wants to be a rock star and when you're still young enough NOT to have had your dreams all quashed by the rest of humanity, such idealism seems normal; but the idea of what it takes to be famous has changed. Some of the less screwed up children actually feel they have to do something to be famous. Some say they want to be basketball stars, rock stars, singers, politicians, artists, etc. and that they plan to put in the hard work and perseverance it takes to make it happen. A sad number of them DON'T. They just want to be famous. For what? We don't know and neither do they. Just because they're born and have webcams.

Hey, it worked for Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, and every last one of the real housewives. They were born. Now they're super important. Why shouldn't it work that way for everybody? People, kids in particular, don't understand how these people came to be valued by society. All the know is that these people were born, regularly act like completely unemapthetic turds, and are rich and famous for it.

How DARE we lament the death of people skills. How DARE we show outrage at the violent crimes that happen in this country. How dare we be dismayed that they're being carried out by younger and younger criminals. How dare we act like we "just don't know what's wrong with these kids." How dare we be surprised that they excrete the very diet we've fed them.

The next time you tell yourself, "Haha, I'm just watching Real Fuckfaces of Dipshit County to laugh at them and make fun of them," or, "I just go on Reddit to make fun of stupid people," pat yourself on the back  for helping to teach kids that treating people like shit is rewarding. Congratulations, YOU HELPED! 

Image stolen from, who stole it from, who probably stole it from someone else.
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