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Friday, January 2, 2015

2014 D-Bag of the Year Awards Part 2 - Oh The Humanity

In Part 1 I did a semi round up of 2014's biggest d-bags, glossing over some of the moments in order to not really do any damn research.  What I came up with was somewhat of a generalization of what I feel is the biggest d-bag of the year.  I think I've done it before but we win again, Humanity.

Call it a cop out.  Call it what you will, but my pick for the biggest, most vile, hipster hat and non prescription glasses wearing douchebag of the year is Humanity via Social Media.

What is that you say?  Did you just make up some weird nominee off the top of your head like some sub-sub-sub-genre of music like Mathcore or Lowercase…  You’d kind of know what lowercase is if you ever sat and watched the DVD menu of The Social Network.  It’s ambient music with a few notes scattered about with stuff like real life noise, people talking, traffic, clacking of keyboards, footsteps, etc.

Yeah, I just coined it Humanity via Media is the biggest d-bag of the year.  I wanted to just say Social Media specifically, but there’s more to it which I will get to in a bit.

Why Media? 

Social Media has been as pervasive in our lives. 
We post, tag, comment, retweet, upvote, tumblr (sp?), Instagram, blog, film, and basically overshare everything.  The problem is there is no governance in place to weed out the real, satirical, or fake information.  To the point about Bill Cosby, both Kirk Cameron and Raven-Symone were reported to have been raped or assaulted by Bill Cosby sometime in their career.  These stories were both false, posted by Onion emulating sites like HipHopHangover.  But regardless of their incredulous nature, they were shared across the Internet via twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites.    The Michael Brown and Eric Garner deaths promptly divided friends on Facebook, probably more so than the midterm elections because on one side you have the barrage of people tuned into the “Police State” conspiracy and abuse of police power theories, and on the other there is the contingent of people who stand behind the badge and say that if they were truly innocent victims they wouldn’t have been committing a crime and when an officer tells you stop, you stop.   The problem lies in the dissemination of information via Media and how Humanity shows its colors when it shares or promotes those stories, real, satirical, or fake as it were.   Look at the “fake” media accounts of Chris Rock and other Twitter celebs who were retweeted without any kind of verification of “Did they actually say it.”  It’s akin to everything on Facebook being attributed to George Carlin or Sarah Palin whether they said it or not.   The Media itself is wholly guilty because they sensationalize some things and no one site is truly objective in its portrayal of anything anymore.   Fox is all right wing, MSNBC is all left.  Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert piss everyone off because they get hoisted onto the pedestal of news when they are basically satire and entertainment.   But the media feeds into social media and then we go back down that rabbit hole all over again.
We have no filter and we have social media muscle. 
It’s kind of like beer muscles.  You get drunk and think you are invulnerable to anything you try to punch, animate, inanimate, or otherwise.  In the case of social media or even media, it’s the belief that we have no problem making a comment, vile as it may be, towards someone because we don’t have to say it to someone’s face.   Think back to that Artie Lange Twitter rant.  Go search over the ones tagged to the Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice, or even Hollaback.  Do you think Artie Lange would seriously say, in person, to Cari Champion the things he tweeted?  Have you ever read the comments section on any news article concerning anything polarizing like politics or human rights?  It’s insane.   Now, I joke about hating on PewDiePie as a YouTube content producer because I am one, too and my opinions are just that, my opinion.  But he disabled the comments on his YouTube account, for good this time.  His belief is that the comment section on his videos is just rife with spam, self-advertising, and fights among fanboys.  With about 19 million subscribers, I guess there is a ton of comments.  Well, it may be best for humanity but it’s only one of millions of places to see vinegar and hate on the Internet.  I, myself, jumped into the ring early on, being online for certain things trying to drum up my social media profile after this little moment pushed me a small step towards Internet Fame Mediocrity by calling out John Travolta on Twitter during the Oscars. It was retweeted 1500 times and favorited by 1000 people.  I admit it, I took a little pride in my humor and was continuing to try and make fetch happen throughout the rest of the year.  Then again, I think John Travolta has dyslexia and I just laughed at someone with a disorder.  But, he's famous and knows famous people, and he is musical and should have known that her name wasn't Adele Dazeem.

For every Social Media win there are millions of fails.
Everyone thinks that revolution will not be televised, it will be posted.    We had countless videos of people dumping buckets of ice water on themselves, all for… charity?  Was it really charity or attention?  The Ice Bucket challenge was probably the most videoed moment of the year and people challenged each other to donate to ALS and film themselves being hit with a bucket of ice water, supposedly how it feels to have symptoms of ALS.   But what started out as a way to donate to a worthy cause became a “look at me” moment as everyone posted videos of themselves but probably not everyone donated.  And in doing so, did they actually fix anything?  Social Media Cause of the Week Awareness comes off more like Evil Political/Business Figure Karma Washing by building libraries or parks in areas to offset their horrible practices or platforms.  And while the initial ALS Ice Bucket challenge started off with a good message, it was polluted by the fails videos and other “Staged” event videos and copycat challenge videos that followed.  And it didn’t just hit the everyday Joe, celebrities got in on the challenge as well.   Glorification of the self outshone the message in the end.    Another case of fail was that Hollaback video where after it went viral, tons of parody videos including everything from someone dressed as Princess Leia to a Lamborghini became the subject of catcalls or lack thereof.  The Arab Spring was filmed on a cell phone and that lent a face to what was actually going on in the region.  That was social media for the win.

We have no context or objectivity.
 Recently, Sarah Palin tweeted out a picture of her son Trig, standing on the family dog to reach something on the counter.  As a proud grizzly mom, she said her son was a problem summer, the tweet went viral and the Internet did what it does.    She pointed out in a fiery article that Ellen Degeneres posted a similar picture in July of the same year.

A: Sarah Palin touts the problem solving skills of her son, Ellen says "Well, that's one way to reach the sink."  Both are bad examples of how treat animals. 

B: That's Sarah's kid and dog.  The other is fan submitted to The Ellen show.  Ellen can't stop someone else's bad behavior.  Sarah could.

The difference is, one is Sarah Palin, and the other is Ellen.  Righties, including Palin, will say "No one cared when Ellen did it."  Well, they did.  If you go to the Facebook post and look at the comments, A LOT of people called it out.

It's called context.  They pulled that Ellen pic because she is a well known liberal and lesbian.  It's a tactic of taking something that looks the same and then use it as a juxtaposition.  The more visceral and equally non contextual comment would to be to say, "Obama ate a dog once."   

We also look at things non contextually such as photos depicting a moment in time, free of whatever is going on before and after that moment.  Someone's face say the Obama daughters looking disgusted.  Then, media adds the context.

Or, as I did last month on Facebook to prove a point, "An armed white man killed three police officers in Pittsburgh, was in a long standoff with the law, and was taken into custody, alive."  Immediately, my conservative friends accused me of trying to associate this event from a few years ago to the Michael Brown case.  I did no such thing.  I simply made a factual statement with no context.   Everyone attached their own context based on their beliefs.   It was a dick move but showed the nature of what I am speaking to.

 We have no long term memory.
"Hey, did you hear the one about the price of gas when a certain President took office vs what they are now?  Blame so and so!"  
"Hey did you hear how so and so is giving all these illegals clemency?" 

Chances are, you have seen your friends share something on social media, touting their political leanings.  Usually, it's bashing the person they didn't vote for.  Chances are, they didn't do any research into the subject and just re-posted or re-tweeted something from a site or feed that uses these little subjective posts as click bait for traffic.  What usually occurs in some of these situations is that people cling to the notion that this country is going to implode because of the people in charge and nothing like this has ever happened before in anyone's lifetime.  Let's face it, nothing is new anymore. Policy and political strategy is about as fresh as Hollywood script ideas.  The problem lies in that people tend to have short term memory when these things occur.  They tend to forget that other administrations and other environmental influences recur, like the seasons.  Gas prices fall in the winter, and rise in the summer, so when someone points out that the price of gas was lower in the January of an inaugural year vs. the Memorial Day of a midterm, everyone grabs torches and pitchforks.  Moreover, Presidents have no direct influence on the price of gas.  The market fluctuates based on fear and speculation and time of year.  But social media, and by proxy, we tend to wear our hate right out on our sleeves and feed the trolls of viral mud slinging because why?  See the next point.
We are despicable human beings.
Everyone wants to see the train wreck.  There are far more disasters and fires started on social media and media outlets than good feel, faith in humanity stories.   Everything is hashtagged for social media glorification.  #NotAllMen  #YesAllWomen #NotAllPolice #NotAllBlacks #AlexFromTarget #BlackLivesMatter #PoliceLivesMatter #GamerGate  But, you cannot change the world with a hashtag.  Let’s face it.   We are not Gandhi, Maya Angelou, The Dalai Lama, or Whatevertheirnames are like Bukowski or Poindexter.    Slacktivism is not helping fix problems.   If it were, we wouldn’t need a name attached to a social media account.  It would be anonymously attached to a building or a billboard.  Stop the glorification of yourself in the name of some cause.  In a more despicable note, GamerGate was a form of victim blaming in that someone posted something, maybe true, maybe not, about a female gamer who released a game and then she and her family received threats by misogynistic people on social media.  People came to the defense of Person A and were threatened as well.  Others criticized Person A and they were threatened.  The funny thing is, I wonder if those same people who sent death threats would ever, ever follow up on them if they were face to face.  It's the Social Media Muscle at work.  "Yeah, I'll kick your ass from behind my firewall."  But, in person, you're peeing your pants at actually following through.  If it actually happened, it'd be like this... (NSFW - Language)


Fear sells better than cheer.
When Ebola entered the country, pundits went nuts saying "CLOSE THE BORDERS!" and "OBAMA IS TRYING TO KILL US!"  First of all, Ebola was already in Atlanta at the CDC.  The level of spreading of Ebola in the US vs. Africa is ridiculously disparate.  We are a first world country with better than average healthcare.  And quite frankly, how the hell do you close the borders to air traffic?  Ebola isn't just walking over the Rio Grande.  We had an outbreak of mumps in the NHL this past fall, did anyone, ANYONE start yelling to close the border to Canada?  Ebola is a dangerous disease if you don't have the capacity to deal with it.  But it's a lot easier to get people glued to their sets when you have that newscast with the scary music, biohazard graphics, and fear than it is to give out good news.  We are a society that likes Schadenfreude.

We are ALL the problem.
Was the iCloud hacks a sexual crime?  Maybe.  I am not a lawyer.  I am not a woman, either.  But, those involved did steal private images and videos.  They did re-post them and that, in itself, is probably worthy of some investigation.  If anything, digital theft or invasion of privacy, breaking and entering if that applies to digital environments.  And not as if I am downplaying the severity of what Jennifer Lawrence went through, but to say that anyone who viewed the images are also committing a sex crime, that is a stretch.  OK, I admit it.  I saw the images.   I wanted to know.  And I'm not claiming Pete Townsend "research" as reasoning, but really, is it a crime.  The sites that host the images, yeah, probably guilty of something, but best you can do is say, "Take it down or face litigation" over copyright.   What happened to the people who had their cloud accounts invaded is awful and this victim shaming/blaming mentality is horrible, but quite honestly, if you're using your digital accounts to store naked images and videos of yourself then you shouldn't be surprised that this is going to happen.  Not to say it's apples to apples but if I walk down the street in a bad neighborhood with $100 bills hanging out of my pockets, I don't deserve to be mugged, but it's probably going to happen eventually and I can be pissed off about it and say it's wrong and it is, but it's still something that can be prevented.  Flame me all you want, but the same goes for the cloud.  And yes, the hackers are the worst in humanity, but the victims calling it something it probably isn't doesn't help.  It is what it is, wrong and unfortunate. So, there it is.  As cliched as a wrap as that is, and pretty much ever word I say,  "That's That"  We have a lot of cleansing to do in 2015.  To quote Neal Sampat from The Newsroom, you embarrass me. 

I embarrass me, too.   I am just as bad.

Since 2008, I've pretty much dedicated 98% of this blog to pointing out what's wrong with the world through the pop culture lens.  The last two years have been particularly crass or depressing depending on the day.   And while I am probably going to continue to uphold the "Angry" moniker since it is my brand.  I want to be different.  I got old real quick in my late 20s and 30s and I will be starting a new decade of my life.  I gave up a lot of what made me... me.  I still haven't given up all of my snark as a resolution but I do plan on making substantial changes in my life starting now.  So, let's see if I can get back to being a little more like who I used to be before Mongo took over.  Hopefully, I can bring some of you along with me.

Happy New Year, d-bags. 

Sorry, I couldn't resist. 


Janelle said...

I agree that Jennifer Lawrence saying looking at the pictures was the same as a sex crime, but I do understand where she's coming from--they were still stolen and leaked photos, and it can't feel good to know that millions of people now have the opportunity to see you in a very personal, private, and vulnerable moment.

And while the hackers surely knew what they were doing was illegal, there's got to be some level of objectification here and a sense of entitlement. Obviously, the women's feelings and rights weren't considered.

Mongo said...

No, they weren't respected or considered.

And, I hope this doesn't come across as the same narrative of victim shaming or whatever, but people (men and women) need to be a little smarter than this. Yes, they were private moments that were supposed to be between two people, but working in the field I work (IT) and have previously worked (Medical Devices), I have been trained in PII (Personally Identifiable Information) and HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). You learn what damage can be done from and what you should or should not share, regardless of promised safeguards.

If I walked down the middle of a bad neighborhood, holding a winning million dollar lottery ticket in my hands, I could be attacked. I may not, but it's a possibility. To say I deserved it would be wrong, but I didn't exactly do the smartest thing in the world.

Granted, that is not an apples to apples argument, but let's say hackers didn't take the images. Let's say one of those relationships went sour and the other party became vindictive, posting it to the Internet. It's just not a good practice to be in when you are high profile.

And it does make you wonder, out of all the celebrity cloud accounts that were hacked... why were the females the only ones to take nude or intimate pictures? In all that time, none of those guys texted back a picture of themselves? Not that I want to see them, but where were those pictures? Angry nerds with sexist chips on their shoulders. Probably a few fedoras in the bunch, too. (I am making light. Apologies.)

Janelle said...

I think it's a very fine line. On one hand, there's at least some element of victim blaming--women shouldn't be blame for what someone else chose to do with their private pictures, much like people shouldn't be held responsible for others' actions in so many other areas of life. On the other hand, yeah, sending nude pictures absolutely carries a risk, whether it be the intentions and character of the receiver or anyone else who could possibly intercept them. At the risk of delving into TMI territory, my #1 reason for never even considering sending pictures was not distrust of my boyfriend, but rather not trusting other people. Any number of things can happen, from someone else get ahold of a phone to hacking, and if I remember right, there have been stories of women's boyfriend's friends messing around on the guy's found, finding pictures, and sharing them. It's sort of a weird middle ground of being aware it's not the best idea, which is kind of unfortunate because people should be safe to share such things if they want, but also feeling like it would be unfair to say, "Well, if you didn't want this to happen, you shouldn't have done it." And I almost wonder how much is being naive or too trusting, thinking that it's 100% safe. I'm sure that's the case with teenage girls, but it's a harder call to make for adult celebrities.

The point about male pictures is interesting. I can't speak for the men in this situation, obviously, but I did recently read a blog post discussing the fact that some men will receive but won't give. In this specific post, they were advising women not to send anything to anyone who wasn't willing to reciprocate, because it's a red flag of sorts. So yeah, either these men got pictures and didn't contribute their own, or the hackers weren't interested in them. And even if they had been, we could easily get into yet another discussion of whether they'd have gotten the same media attention with the same potential career damage...although it doesn't look like Jennifer Lawrence is suffering any career-wise.

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