Digital Minefield

Why The Machines Are Winning

Archive for the tag “loners”

Social Media’s Biggest Lie

This time it was the news that made the news. This time, instead of hearing about the killer’s social media from an investigation, we heard it in real time from the killer himself. He made social media the very essence of his crime.

I wondered how a psychopath had a social media network. Then it all came back to me. News reports of senseless killings over many decades. And how, until now in the age of social media, all those killers were described as “loners.”

Maybe it began with Columbine (April 20, 1999). Although the influence of social media wasn’t as obvious there because it was a shared psychosis and seen as an extreme folie à deux. Maybe, but they were loners.

However, since Columbine, the extensive usage of social media has been the common element the news has given us in lieu of the more cryptic term, loner. Yet, for all this data we have learned nothing about how these disturbed people became out-and-out psychopaths.

Instead, we are left with a pile of meaningless social media connections. As though there was some understanding of the actions of these psychopaths that could be gained by exploring their social media movements.

Far too many people seem unaware that we become human only though interaction with other humans. This interaction is not only what makes us human, it’s what keeps us human.

It would also seem that most people are unable to distinguish the unreality of social media’s virtual interactions from actual face-to-face, one-on-one human interaction. The news media acts as though social media gives loners real connections.

What nonsense! It’s their actions, not their social media connections that identifies people as loners. It’s their lack of real human interactions that labels them. But what is real for such disturbed people?

They each have their own reality. The rest of the world calls it virtual but that has no effect since the disturbed think it’s real—just as they believe their grievances justify the use of weapons.

Social media is “… the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship.” —Sherry Turkle, Alone Together: Why we experience more from technology and less from each other.

Disturbed people without real friends are as likely to harm themselves as others. Using social media to deceive ourselves into thinking virtual is actual human contact will end in disaster.

We could avoid some future disasters if we remove the possibility of interrupting live broadcasts. This seven-second or profanity delay has been available for decades.

The NRA’s big lie is anyone can own a gun without any need for proper training. That is the same as saying any idiot can use one, which turns out to be true. Using it correctly is another story.

Social media’s biggest lie is that virtual friends can help with real problems. Guns don’t solve personal problems, people do. That is, real people, not virtual people.


Anti-Social Media

In twenty years, the Internet has transformed all of humanity. Although not every person interacts with the Internet directly, few have escaped its influence on those who have.

The Internet has made it easier for people to connect, or to communicate without really connecting, or to interact deceitfully. This on a world-wide scale that has grown so quickly, we rarely step back and seek the historical perspective.

The Internet made it easier for joiners to join. It united larger numbers of apparently like-minded people than ever before. It also helped loners to find loners, creating small groups of peculiarly-minded people that never could have existed before.

Long before the Internet, there was concern that the world had become more interconnected and more quickly connected. This centered on the spread of disease and was based on the speed of flight. Half a century later, the Internet spreads its mutations of the mind at the speed of light. Only now, strife trumps ebola.

The one constant in conflicts around the world today is the rise in number and power of social divisions best described as tribal. These seek political power in an overcrowded world, inevitably manifesting itself in violent forms, from dissent to genocide.

Tribal web sites, like all social media, want numbers. While their size and focus are the opposite of big social media, their ability to connect people is similarly expedited by the Internet.

The “likes” transmitted to these small but excessively extreme sites are more intensive than the “likes” on Facebook and its ilk. Without the Internet, loners connected to these small, unique sites would probably remain alone, rarely making the news.

Not all loners are sociopaths, nor are they all connecting. The Internet has surely brought together more ordinary, lonely people than dangerous loners. But it’s not simple arithmetic. Good connections don’t balance the evil from connecting bad people.

The factions produced by tribal-like activity does not aim to become mass movements. They seek to destroy, dominate, frighten, or otherwise influence both individuals and groups.

Tribal activity comes in many shapes and sizes, and its methods are covert. Their use of the Internet for recruitment, publicity, and funding is highly overt and very sophisticated.

They do not concern themselves with broad public opposition since they believe it cannot stop or even slow their fanatical goals. They believe, as they foolishly used to say in Hollywood, there is no such thing as bad publicity.

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