Dissecting The Internet’s Lynching Culture
Warning: highly opinionated and may be offensive to most readers.
I watch a lot of videos online. Internet memes are my guilty pleasure. I’m addicted to 4chan even though I don’t completely understand how to use it. I love dogs, especially my bichon.
I’m also constantly surprised by people’s stupidity.
I honestly think people are generally quite intelligent. It may be because I think everyone I’m in regular contact with is really bloody smart. Am I in a bubble filled with the top X percent? Am I the stupid one?
I don’t know, but I can’t wrap my mind around people in general sometimes. Warnings on hot coffee cups? Farmville is valued at $4 billion? People still fall for the Nigerian phishing scheme? and I have over 3,000 followers?!?… yeah, there’s something wrong with the world.
Here’s the thing: There’s a vast difference between stupid and crazy… and I don’t mean crazy as in “gurrl you is crazayyy!” I mean crazy as in “how are you not locked up in a place with padded walls?” In the past couple of weeks, there are two distinct videos that went viral of people who fall into the latter category of crazy.
Figure 1: Cat Lady
The first one was the cat lady. You watch as this 40-something-year-old, normal looking woman (Later identified as church-goer Mary Bale) is captured on CCTV video walking by a friendly cat on a fence. She leans over, pets it. It purrs and she looks around the neighborhood to see if anyone is looking. Then, picks up the friendly, loving cat and throws it into the garbage bin.
The worst part is when initially confronted about it, she says “I don’t know what the fuss is about. It’s just a cat.”
Figure 2: Puppy Thrower
In the next instance, Bosnian girl who looks to be about 14 years-old (and later identified as Katja Puschnik) is video tapped (by whom is presumed to be her brother), cheerily tossing tiny puppies from a plastic bucket into a quick-moving lake. She laughs as she tosses the helpless creatures to their death. It is quite possibly the most horrible thing I’ve ever witnessed in my life.
- bosnian teen girl cheerily tossing puppies to their deaths
Serial killers by nature? I’m no psychologist, but getting joy out of killing helpless animals screams sociopathic tendencies to me.
4Chan The Avengers
In both cases, 4chan’s /b/ forum users are credited with identifying the crazies. I know 4chan gets a lot of flack about its anonymous and offensive behavior. However, those crafty users are also credited as being a meme-machine, as their no-holds-barred approach to communication is a breeding ground for creativity. I love them but I wouldn’t want to be on the wrong end of their wrath.
When their collective powers come together, they get stuff done in a way some criticize as being a modern-day witch hunt. Gawker and 11-year-old Jessi Slaughter have both been on the receiving ends of this and it was not pretty.
Personally, I find such behavior utterly fascinating — how people come together online and use collaborative tools and communication outlets to have such an impact on society… It blows my mind. Interestingly enough, this sort of online behavior is quite popular all over the world (yes, this happens outside of 4chan) and the Chinese have dubbed this online witch hunt sensation “The human-flesh search engine.”
For those of us in China, we might better know crowdsourcing as the Human Flesh Search Engine, the increasingly frequent phenomenon of online crowds gathering via China’s bulletin board systems, chat rooms, and instant messaging to collaborate on a common task…
…We profiled several such instances in our book, such as the Kitten Killer of Hangzhou and the infamous Chinabounder blog, both of which involved an intensive human-assisted search that sometimes bordered on a lynch-mob mentality. — China Supertrends
What are your thoughts on the people in these videos? What are your thoughts on the Human Flesh Search Engine sensation? What are your thoughts on online lynching and witch hunts? How do these sensations play into the science of viral? I would love to hear your opinions, so leave a comment below.
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