Burn to Ash & Bone
I find this particular QotSA song appropriate for today as it deals with lynch mobs, superstition, and ritual sacrifice.
If you don’t know what the latest hubbub is all about, I suggest you head over the Ace of Spades HQ and take a look for yourself. I never heard of Justine Sacco before yesterday so I don’t really care about what off-color joke she tweeted out. The subsequent fallout, replete with modern day P. T. Barnums and internet hate mobs is much more troublesome.
Fan the Flames, With a Little Lie
Buzzfeed has accumulated clout on the internet by playing on people’s baser instincts. But why is Buzzfeed so popular? Well as P. T. Barnum famously said – there’s a sucker born every minute. Why yes, I would love to see 24 pictured reasons why Cats love catnip. 15 hot celebrities without makeup? I’m all in. It’s easy, dumb entertainment that plays on our instant gratification culture. Not to mention that Buzzfeed’s entire business model is suspect at best. Don’t believe me? Well maybe you’ll listen to the The Best Page in the Universe in which Maddox expertly took down Buzzfeed for the fraud of a website it is.
“Anthony, you’re blowing this way out of proportion. Buzzfeed is just some dumb fun on the internet!” That may be but Buzzfeed is also incredibly powerful as we’ve witnessed over the past 24 hours. One story from them was enough to blow up a tweet of no consequence and completely ruin the life of one person. That’s the problem with unearned power. The results of wielding such power without restraint inevitably leads to suffering. (See also: Barack Hussein Obama) Also Ian Malcolm might have something to say about unearned power…
The Mob It Cries for Blood
Apparently blood sport is still alive and well in America. As someone once famously said, “What difference does it make?” (Not to act like Buzzfeed, but I can’t remember who said that quote and cannot attribute it to someone.) Who cares that a random person told a bad joke on twitter? Will it affect anyone at all other than the professional offended class? Do we really need to cheer on the ruination of someone’s life? Revel in it? As someone else said “Personal attacks do not feed the hungry.” (Sorry, forgot who said that one too.)
Sure, we may enjoy the schadenfreude when our political enemies fail on their own accord, but the vitriol coming from the internet Offended class are on another level entirely. The mob mentality incited by Buzzfeed’s terribleness should give any rational person pause. For all of the progress we celebrate as a species, perhaps we are all not that different from our ancestors. Warfare these days is carried out via words and destruction of careers instead of bloody mortal combat – but the tribal battles continues. True back then as it is today; when a member betrays the tribe, they must face expulsion or worse.
The Children Cross Their Hearts & Hope to Die
Speaking of being a progressive species, weren’t we supposed to give up on superstition long ago? I’m not talking about religion which the left loves to mock. I speak of our obsession with garden variety superstitions you find in passing or the much more malicious political variant that continues to wreak havoc on our society. We have Sky gods of climate change, the Equality gods of wealth redistribution and obviously the Race gods of perceived offense. We continually pray to these gods as a cure to our ails much like our primitive selves did with absolutely no positive results. We even had ourselves an ol’ fashioned ritual sacrifice of Ms. Sacco to appease the Race gods. Of course, no greater good will come of her sacrifice other than the smug satisfaction of those who called for her head.
Nobody questions why we continue to hold these superstitions in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Maybe it’s because math and science are hard to understand. Maybe we would rather go bury our heads in the sand and laugh at Buzzfeed listicles all day instead of searching for the truth. Perhaps we haven’t actually changed that much from our primitive selves, acting on instinct and emotion. I’m reminded of those in American history that called this kind of behavior long ago and gave us the tools to better ourselves. If only I remembered the attribution.
Beyond the questions of this fiasco chilling free speech there is a larger issue at hand – Will our species actually progress past our primitive, ancestral selves?