Some sick fuck just livestreamed himself on Facebook shooting up a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand. Understandably, people are even more shaken than usual by this, since NZ hasn’t had an attack like this in over 20 years.
What makes this stick out to me is is relevance of this attack to the “climate” right now. The guy streamed his attack on Facebook. He made a PewDiePie reference. He posted a manifesto that opened with the Navy SEAL copypasta. He painted a bunch of white supremacist messages on his weapons and referenced Islamic terror attacks in them as well.
And apparently he announced his intentions on 8chan’s /pol/, where he – as I write this – has tons of supporters cheering him on and supporting his actions. The same is happening on 4chan /pol/ and elsewhere. It’s awful stuff.
Maybe I’m being naive when I read this stuff, but when I read about how many people are cheering this guy on and saying this is moral and a justified reaction to the “invasion,” it’s hard not to think that the people crying for censorship and the silencing of “hate speech” might have a point. I’m certainly more sympathetic to the argument right now, on an emotional level at the very least, than I have been in a long time.
But I might have a different take on that than a lot of people. When I look at those chan posters so full of anger and venom, all stuck in that little cycle pitting each other on and encouraging the worst in each other, I wonder if the problem there is that they have nowhere else to go. People get banned from Twitter and Facebook, they go to Reddit, they get banned from Reddit and go to 4chan or 8chan. And who do they find there? All the other people that got banned from those places because they were too hateful.
So instead of being in a place where someone might be able to call them out, show them the light, or be an example of humanity, they’re left with no one to talk to but the others who are just as angry and venomous. It creates a self-perpetuating cycle of rage and tribalism, where “they” are holding these angry people back, down, preparing for war, whatever. And there’s no one there to be the voice of reason, because they’re mostly all still back on the major platforms being reasonable.
It’s a sort of organic radicalism that I think will only continue to get worse as people hedge themselves off into these private spaces. You see it to a lesser degree even in the sub-communities on Twitter, Reddit or Facebook – look at anti-vax groups on Facebook, political subreddits, and the like. We create echo chambers and act surprised when people become hardened by them.
Locking “undesirable” people into their own little area works fine when you’re dealing with hackers in a FPS game. It doesn’t work so well when you’re dealing with the mentally ill and angry, those feeling disenfranchised and victimized, no matter how factually based those feelings are. We take the people we fear are monsters and lock them up with others we fear are monsters and wonder why they come out even more monstrous.
I don’t know what the solution is. But it’s depressing as hell to watch and read, to know this is where we are, and that things don’t show any signs of slowing down. I just had to put my thoughts down somewhere.