Trolls, Sadists, and The Olympics – Oh My

The Olympics have drawn to a close and it seems as though it was filled with just as much scandal as it was exciting competition. Sadly, it was not without heartbreak or injury either.

If any of you have been following the games, you may have heard about the injury suffered by French Olympian, Samir Ait Said. In the midst of his vault routine landing, Said suffered a broken leg. Not his first. But still devastating and horrific. First, let me say my heart immediately went out to him as images of Joe Thiesmann flashed in my head. And I’m glad to say Said seems to be recovering well, as well as one can after such a terrible event.

But all of that is beside the point, how did I discover this piece of news? Luckily I didn’t witness it like I did Theismann’s injury – that one is still rattling around in my head I’m very sorry to report. No, it was a normal day pretty much like any other day and as I so often do, I was browsing my Facebook newsfeed when lo and behold a news article popped up detailing Said’s botched landing, his subsequent insult to injury when the paramedics dropped him while he was strapped onto a gurney, and an update on his recovery (as much as was known then).  Believe it or not, the story of this awful incident was not the most disturbing thing about the Facebook post in question. Not by a long shot.

You see, apparently the media outlet posting this article had decided to show some respect (gasp!  I know, right!?) to both the athlete and presumably its audience and opted NOT to show the stomach-churning video of the gruesome injury. In fact, from what I understand, numerous news sites and even the Olympic committee had removed various versions of the video due to its grisly nature, not to mention, once again, respect.  And frankly, what purpose does it serve to air such a thing?  But I’m jumping ahead of myself.

As I mentioned, the news story was not the worst thing about this Facebook post and that’s saying something. No. The worst thing was the slew of comments from the bloodthirsty…well, let’s see…trolls? No, that’s not right. Sadists? Horror-mongers? I could come up with some better names, but my mother reads this blog. I digress. Back to the comments.

The story alone was quite detailed and the author talented enough to paint a word picture for his audience — a word picture that was more than adequate to conjure a mind’s eye view of what occurred to this poor gymnast.

And yet. There it began. The vocal outcry of the offended masses culled from the cream of our society. “Where’s the video!?” asked one. “Why’d you guys take it down?” whined another. “Someone needs to re-post on YouTube or something, man!” decried one technologically clever soul. “Really, you’re not going to show it!?” demanded one particularly impatient individual.  As you might imagine the comments and discussion only went downhill from there.

The conversation kind of devolved into the equivalent of an incessantly whining toddler throwing an ever-growing tantrum because you turned off his beloved Teletubbies. Yet it wasn’t their whining or incredibly childish gore-filled demand for the video that bothered me, although that was bad enough, it was the “why” behind their communal outrage.

In fact, I dare you to look around on YouTube at what some of these like-minded…people…are watching these days. Live fights between young pregnant women, people getting hit by cars, animals being tortured, and a number of less than “innocent” sadistic pranks. Oh, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

It continues to beg the question, what the hell is wrong with our society? Why are we obsessed with violence and inundated with the demand to see other living, breathing beings suffer? Is it funny for some people, or is it just some sick urge even they don’t understand? Either way I really do worry for the future sometimes. We seem to be barreling towards the extreme southern district of the afterlife a lot faster than originally forecast with no hand-basket in sight.

Dark Musings

On May 14, 1998, the Seinfeld show aired its last episode.

This was seventeen years ago, but the plot of the show was incredibly perceptive, both of the characters and society as a whole. And as it turns out – prophetic.

In this episode the four main characters of Jerry, Elaine, Kramer and George are spending a few hours in a tiny town in Massachusetts. They witness a mugging from an opposite street corner. Instead of trying to stop it, they simply watch and make jokes because the victim is extremely overweight. In addition, Kramer starts to film the mugging with a camcorder. Then they simply turn and walk away from the scene, completely unconcerned with the fate of the victim.

I have to say that when I watched this episode, my feelings for the foursome changed drastically from like to dislike. I’ve never felt the same about the show since. I mean they were always self-absorbed, one and all, but good grief.

So in the finale (should I say spoiler alert for a show that aired 17 years ago??), the four of them are arrested for violating a “duty to rescue” law (which I don’t think actually exists because really, if it did, our jails would be overflowing even more than they are now) and the rest of the two-part show consists of clips from past episodes showing the utter lack of compassion and empathy that these four friends have shown to the people they’ve interacted with during the ten years of the Seinfeld series’ run. Spoiler alert (ha!). They were found guilty and the karma they had been racking up for the past nine seasons came back to bite them in the ass and they wound up in jail.

Fast forward to today.

There are people today who actually do this – witness a crime or a tragedy and not only do nothing about it but actually whip out their cellphones to record it! Or in the case of the recent fire in Dubai, take a selfie in front of said tragedy (before possibly being able to know if deaths are involved or not).

Go to YouTube and you’ll see thousands of videos like this. Someone getting beat up in a fast food restaurant or on a bus or something of that nature (usually in a big city) and instead of trying to stop it, a bystander films it and uploads it to YouTube. It would be one thing if they filmed it in order to help in the prosecution of the criminal involved, but I think their main reason to film it is to put it on YouTube or their Facebook account! Take this guy for example. He saw a car crash, and since helping is for suckers, he naturally just broke into the smashed up vehicle to record the two dying kids to post on his Facebook page instead and oh, hey, wait…maybe there’s some money to be made here… so according to police, he tried to peddle the recording to news stations.

Seinfeld had an uncanny knack for mirroring society right back at you through the t.v. screen, they just made it funny. In real life it’s not quite so amusing.

We wonder why some people, especially young people, have no empathy or why situations such as rape or bullying might get videotaped but not reported (or god forbid, stopped) as its taking place. I mean, it’s no exaggeration to say the first thought of the majority of the crowd is not, “let’s stop this,” but rather, “hey, did you get that!?” or “whoa, are you getting this!?”  Of course meaning on one’s phone.

I think it’s because our society has created – and is constantly creating – voyeurs and people who are just completely immune to or simply don’t care about tragedy or violence, even when it’s right in front of them. There seems to be little respect for, well…anything anymore. People are taking playful selfies at Auschwitz these days for goodness sake. I hear it’s a “thing.”

I don’t know what the solution is. Stronger laws and more repercussions for heinous acts such as, oh, I don’t know, squeezing into a mangled car to film dying children up-close just to make a buck, would be a good start. It’s easy to say better parenting is the key, but is that it? Is that all it will take? Life is never that simple. As a society shouldn’t we do something? But really, are we even capable of pulling together as a group to create change? Or should we all just resign ourselves to the fact that the world is destined for that long trip waayy south in a hand basket when all is said and done?

E-Voyeurism at its Best…or Rather, Worst?

Sorry folks, time for a bit of a rant.  But hey, it has been a while! Soooo, this entry is about an issue that has been annoying me for some time now.  Maybe it’s me.  Maybe I’m behind the times (See? I admit it!).  But back in the good ol’ days voyeurs (a.k.a. creepers) had to put in some real elbow grease to leer over the private lives of others. There was no Facebook, no Google Images, no online profiles, smart searches, or mutual friends. If a voyeur wanted to drool over some stranger, they had to break out a Kodak Instamatic, hide in some bushes, and wait til the right moment. Not so much anymore.  It’s actually become disgustingly easy to accomplish.

I understand that online “stalking” is a common if not accepted new activity. Employers search for job applicants to make sure their FB page doesn’t have pictures of them doing body shots in Cabo or twerking at a wet t-shirt contest. They have to cover the company’s bottom line and that’s understandable. Or if a woman tells her friend she’s going out on an OKCupid date and can’t decide if the guy is a possible creep or not. That friend can do some online investigative work to see if the DJ with the soul patch is good people or a potential future “person of interest” in a sexual misconduct investigation.

So for research purposes the online check-up of people has its functions. Unfortunately, it doesn’t end there. This is the internet in case you’ve forgotten. This is the home of trolls, creepers, and shady individuals. In my opinion the stalking has simply gone too far. I’ve come to see just how far some men will go to check out pictures that they really have no business putting so much work into uncovering.

I’m not talking about slowly scrolling through pictures of celebrities. Men are visual creatures and lusting over a low-cut top Scarlett Johansson just wore on the red carpet I can understand, especially if it’s done discreetly and in moderation. It’s just who men are. It’s in their wonderfully twisted DNA. What I’m more concerned about is when men go on Facebook to check out friends of their friends or their family member’s friend, or even their friends’ wives in order to feed their lecherous appetite.

Like, as an example, Random Creepy Guy is at his son’s college graduation where he meets his son’s 20-year old bottle blonde girlfriend. When Creepy Guy gets home he goes on FB, goes to his son’s page, clicks on the girlfriend’s page, checks out whatever photos he can (oh, bikini pics with sorority sisters over spring break!), then starts clicking on the pages of her friends to see what pictures they might have public for his viewing. So in the end he’s feeding on images of strangers that he only found through a loose connection. They’re not Victoria’s Secret models who are paid to have people they don’t know look at them. And they’re not posting lewd photos that one would expect to garner attention. They’re just regular women. If you told them that a man they never met searched for them online and was checking out that shot of them in a pair of jean shorts and spaghetti strap pink top that was snapped at their nephew’s birthday party, wouldn’t that just be flat-out weird?

I’m a fan of moderation in just about everything. Diet, drinking, cursing…whatever. Even porn I can sort of understand since the “actors” (hahahaha) know they’ll be watched and are compensated for it. But this ogling of real-life strangers using the internet as a tool, I can’t condone any of it, especially after seeing how addicted some men can get to the salacious practice. They even go so far as to find out the name of a neighbor so they can eventually have access to their girlfriend’s Facebook information. A fake community friendship all with the strategic purpose of possibly leering at photos of a pretty girl who visits next door.

And it doesn’t stop there either. If Facebook doesn’t automatically give a treasure trove of tight-shirt pics, I’ve seen men up the ante quite considerably. Going through Advanced Searches. Name searches on Google.  Possibly going to the person’s alma mater’s page to gain info on their new married name or place of employment. Some men go through an exhaustive amount of time and energy scouring the internet to find any morsel of information on the pretty girl walking her dog down the street and might be named Betty.

Imagine what they might accomplish if they put that energy elsewhere!

I’m not naïve. I realize that Facebook is inherently a voyeuristic activity…but to me, since these are real people, wives of friends, friends of family members, and friends of friends, this degree of voyeurism borders on being flat-out perverse. I mean, I wonder if they’d have that same mind-set (of it being okay) if their viewing pleasures were public?

I’m certainly not advocating for voyeurs to go back to taking Polaroids of random girls at concerts (something else I’ve seen done which, yup, still creepy).  I see the allure of Facebook stalking because it is just so damn easy, but I wish these people would just consider more seriously what they’re doing. It’s the equivalent of hunkering down in the nook of a tree at midnight to see into someone’s bedroom. Just because it’s the internet (so you don’t have to don that black ski mask and wear latex gloves) doesn’t make it alright.

creeper