Social Media Kills

David K. Smith, 12 January 2018

In perhaps one of the saddest news reports I've seen in recent times, a 14-year-old girl from Australia committed suicide this month. The cause was cyber-bullying.

Having been a target of serious bullying throughout my grade school years, I can appreciate the matter from her perspective. As for understanding why it happened this way, I've seen enough online hatred to realize this was perhaps inevitable.

People are shit. That's what it boils down to. People are just plain shit. Too many humans are cruel, hateful and sadistic, and the anonymity offered by the Internet is gasoline on a dumpster fire. It's the perfect means by which otherwise harmless individuals can reveal their darkest facets with total impunity.

That such people exist at all is frightening enough, yet at the same time it's predictable. It's in our nature to be nasty; it is, at the heart of it, a survival mechanism. But removed from a natural habitat filled with predators, it becomes a twisted evil that both must and cannot be stopped.

There will be much more of this to come, of that there's no doubt, and there's almost nothing we can do about it. The genie is out of the bottle; social media will not be going away anytime soon, and no amount of safeguards, controls, monitors or other countermeasures will silence the evil lurking within a population overrun with sick individuals. We've created protections for these monsters, and there's no rescinding them, since the distinction between "free" and "hate" speech is not either-or; it's a grey zone filled with dangerous ambiguities.

So brace yourselves for more of this sort of heartbreak. Hate is not going away. Social media is not going away. The one is a vehicle for the other, and the combination will simply give rise to more of what we don't need or want.

I'm glad I'm old. I don't have to endure this crap much longer.

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