Offbeat 06 June 2014
If you don’t like the fictions that you see on the internet, don’t edit the internet, rather turn it off. If you don’t like the fictions in movies, don’t try to ban them, rather don’t watch them.
One news story made me think this week. It wasn’t the dumb, rote repetition of the assassination plot rumours, or the atrocities of the fools who call themselves Boko Haram, or even the melting Antarctic ice sheet. It is the story of a couple of young girls who stabbed another girl of the same age 19 times, and blamed it on an internet meme.
I am about to be extraordinarily harsh and cruel in a ‘liberal’ kind of way, so now might be a good time to stop reading if you are easily offended. If however you believe that the Westborough Baptist Church is evil and thick, you might be able to make it through this.
I wasn’t particularly shocked by the children with knives. Juvenile use of weapons seems to be entirely normal. The only difference between then and now is the fact that the web and social media make everything visible on a global scale.
The story went that the attempted murder of the child was an act of ‘Slenderman’, a fictional internet phenomenon. Once again there was nothing unusual about that. What interested me was the response of the editor of the site which is the locus of the meme.
The editor did not wait for the site to take blame. He responded rapidly with reasonable comments that returned the blame to the girls in a meaningful way. He repeated one simple argument, that the fact that someone watches something, does not necessarily turn that person into something. I want to reiterate what he says in a different way to bring out the absurdity. I enjoyed the Captain America movie, but I am not Captain America, nor do I aspire to be.
I am still, however waiting for the backlash, the condemnation of the fictional meme and its purveyors.
I suspect it will be muted in mass media as his response was extremely lucid, but it will be there in some or other form.
This is where I am going to get cruel.
The backlash against the site, the particular meme and others like it are naive at best, and anger me. I know the difference between fiction and reality. I know the difference between right and wrong.
A fiction will not influence me to change my beliefs. People who believe that fictions have that site of influence have limited concepts and experience of upbringing, obviously.
I can only imagine that they believe their internal values systems are weak enough to be influenced by fictions.
That in itself angers me. The fact that people will attempt to bolster their shaky sense of morality by removing the fictions that they believe may influence them angers me even more, simply for the fact that those fictions entertain me and quite often make me think about good and bad, reward and punishment, and life and death, in a metaphysical kind of way.
Those people may want to shut their own heads down, but they have no right to deprive me of my own thoughts.
If you don’t like the fictions that you see on the internet, don’t edit the internet, rather turn it off. If you don’t like the fictions in movies, don’t try to ban them, rather don’t watch them. If the music is creepy, just turn it off.
If you are worried that your internal morality may be breached by external forces, write down the central tenets of your beliefs on a piece of paper and refer back to them once or more times a day to remind yourself of your beliefs.
Mercifully brainless people like that don’t read much, so I don’t feel the need to jump to the defense of books I read.
The young girls illustrate another point.
It is all too easy to lay blame on external factors rather than to exercise control and accept responsibility. No, the devil didn’t make you do it. Anthropomorphic personification of your own personal weaknesses is no defense. It was your urge, your decision and your responsibility.
The girls will be charged as adults, according to reports. In this case, the decision makes sense.
The culture of laying blame is in itself a form of moral weakness. If you feel the need to lay blame, you actually need to blame yourself.