hey how about that the austin bomber was a deeply mediocre white man with the most basic-ass bone-stock conservative psuedopolitics with the reek of having been culled entirely from online comments who could have predicted. weird. can't figure out where he got the idea to kill random people of color from. i mean he did parrot the drivel of people who i remember even in 2000 couldn't go ten minutes without saying we should kill someone for not being white. no idea where he got this idea.
i was just reading this yesterday and reflecting on how teens talked online in this era
I can tell you that a tremendous number of people, a really ghastly number, spent the entirety of their teen years not going more than a few minutes without saying or hearing "kill" directed broadly at a group of people. I was in that group.
that is to say, i was in the set of people who constantly talked about killing people
that's how we talked about everything. it was the go-to. virtually any described offense was met with the response that we should kill an entire group of people. the homeless, POC, gay people, trans people, nothing garnered more than a second or two of thought
anyone, absolutely anyone the least bit different than us - mediocre white teens - needed to be killed. It's still how people talk on 4 c h a n, a time capsule permanently frozen in 2006 with all its members permanently frozen at age 20.
nothing ever changes there. nothing changes on forums in general. the world is fixed permanently in the year that people joined the forum, because everyone on the forum has spent every day since they joined the forum on the forum.
By the way, people keep saying they remember the games in that ZEAL article. I don't, but the article still hit home because there were thousands of them. Thousands upon thousands. All indistinguishable. This is what we /did/ in that time.
there was a period in the early 2000s when the response to virtually any figure entering the media cycle was the immediate release of a complete multimedia spread including images, music and games, all depicting their death or suffering.
most of this was not in response to any kind of actual thought or emotion. there was a group-hate, where the existence of nearly anything was reason to hate it. the amount of hate in teenage boys was an immeasurable constant; we had an infinite supply of it.
why were my "peers" telling me to hate boy bands in 1999? i have no idea. nobody ever explained it, it was just assumed. this was the zeitgeist, a zeitgeist that was unexamined even by teenager standards.
but this shit was very much the root of a lot of what's going on right now. at age 12 i entered the greater growing web and was immediately inducted into a community of seething, pointless hatred directed at everything
I think I would have been a nicer person if I had been stopped from going to newgrounds. I think it made me a piece of shit and an asshole and I would have stayed that way and become a real mother fucker if not for friends specifically targeting my shittiness.
I have no idea. I didn't go to school for this so I'm pretty sure someone at a university has a pretty good lock on why this happened, but yeah, it's kind of an incredibly scary part of our society that I've never seen addressed in any way.
Who told 11 year olds to start casually quipping about killing Barney? I know we weren't enjoying it. It wasn't funny or fun. We felt /compelled/, it was /expected/, and i suspect the motivations were circular with no patient zero to be found.
I can't harp on this enough: Nobody was having fun. Nothing going on on Newgrounds or anywhere else that was in this vein was fun. It wasn't entertaining. Even as dipshit kids, this whole thing was strained.
There was a formula. Nobody knew where it came from, but it seemed to have been there forever. The response to /all/ cultural phenomena was to create something deeply cynical and usually violent and we were doing it like we were punching a clock. The laughs were forced.
I can't prove this. The time has passed, and at the time I had few personal friends. But what my gut told me at the time was that nobody was having a good time, I just didn't know how to read it. Now I definitely know what those feelings meant.
"Right? It felt like we grew up in an age where we weren't allowed to truly, unironically like things or people Like we took the boy-picking-on-girl-he-likes mindset and applied it to the entire world"
This is exactly on point. We didn't like anything. Nobody liked anything. Nobody admitted to liking anything. Liking things wasn't cool.
And that's how we now have people in their mid thirties who are only just beginning to whisper, on social media where they're ostensibly surrounded by friends, that they /might/ like anime or fantasy novels or or or. Or anything that isn't cynical
Oh btw if you want an example of something that's very very cynical, have you considered: call of shooty
First person shooters were fuckin' there for us, ready to swoop in and offer the cynicism we'd been raised with. Kill everything. Blow everything up. Yawn. The nihilism we'd been taught primed the pump for that shit.
I always come back to this when I talk about this stuff: knowing what caused this is important because we have millions of people, no, read that again, millions of people who were injured by this and don't know it and are not getting any help culturally.
Every one of them is a problem we have to solve eventually and none of us have any idea how to do that and we have to figure it out. Because we can't just write off a whole generation, "anyone who was young and online in 2000," they are our problem to deal with now.
They are here, and they are permanently angry and hate sincerity, and we actually can't coexist with them. They are turning into nazis because they don't know how not to.
It's nice to think "oh we'll just kill the nazis" but there are more ticking-time-bomb fascists that came out of this than anyone realizes. They feel alone in the world, they don't connect with anyone or anything, they have no anchors at all. They never learned how to be happy.
The fuckface who was bombing black people in Texas probably came out of this shit. He was a little young for newgrounds specifically, but I can see the path to being "radicalized by the void," if you will. becoming a monster because you were taught that becoming a person is wrong
by "radicalized by the void" I mean that there is a sort of person who does not want to be a person, who hates the idea of becoming a person and the responsibility associated with it. they want nothing more than to be left alone to be mediocre.
a lot of mediocre white men, from the person vomiting slurs on 4chan to the nazis in the street, feel that society is trying to force them to reflect on themselves and /that is what they want to stop/.
It's important to acknowledge that this is true, that their perceived struggle is real, and that our intent is to not let them live the lives they want to live because they are implicitly harmful. We do not have the luxury of apathy, it invariably results in harming the innocent.
The war being fought right now is over apathy. we all know the article by now: "I Don’t Know How To Explain To You That You Should Care About Other People." that is the fight here. And they know it.
what we were taught, implicitly, by our peers, when I was a kid, is that caring is bad, and thinking about yourself is bad, and yes there's an amount of "eww that's what gays and women do" tied up in there, but ultimately it's just an intense aversion to responsibility
they know it. they are aware of it. and when people say things like "i wasn't going to be a nazi but you forced my hand by demanding i be decent" we need to understand that that ISN'T gibberish no matter how wrong and shitty it is.
their intent, by and large, is to not be aware of the world. they don't want to know about anything. they don't want to hear about how their actions impact others because that sounds like a lot of shit they would be compelled to deal with.
"radicalized by the void": a person who has spent years comatose, barely aware of their existence, who is being woken from that sleep and is lashing out with all the energy they can muster in order to return to their oblivion
that was me just a few years ago. i remember it vividly. the difference between me and Them is solely that someone managed to break through the shell and teach me that it was worth it to be a person, to not sleepwalk through life.
And you know what? The internet is the problem. The internet is a huge fucking problem and we all know it, we all know it's putting shit in front of young people that they aren't ready for. And we knew it then, our parents were right about it, just not right enough.
I don't know what can possibly be done about it. No program of censorship would be right or effective or anything but counterproductive but, fuck, we can't write this off.
In my view we have a tremendous number of dangerous broken men in this nation now specifically because of the unregulated nightmare that the web was in the early 2000s and I don't know what to do with that information but I'm not going to forget it.
Newgrounds and all those other edgy early 2000s hellholes are all Superfund sites. Sad, shitty things we look back on and say "okay, okay, we fucked up," but even as the words spill out of our mouths we are pouring soil for a new development over another toxic waste dump.
They are not places of honor, no esteemed deed is commemorated there, this thread is a message and part of a system of messages, et cetera. We need to not just skip over this. What is being created /right now/ that is equivalent to those?