4 Unhealthy Mentalities the Internet Turned into Movements
Each fall, most colleges and universities host a club day allowing students to wander between the tables of all the clubs and intramural sports on campus, signing up for every weird, cool or asinine mini-society with which they feel a connection. The Internet is essentially just a bigger version of that college club day, except everyone in the world is invited and it never ends.
Online, you have the opportunity to browse through millions of groups and forums dedicated exclusively to your niche interests and beliefs. And while Internet communities have the extraordinary power to bring like-minded people together, reminding everyone that they never need to feel lonely, or strange, or different ever again, the truth is that sometimes that's a terrible idea. The analogy of higher education sort of falls apart when you imagine groups like this one or this one setting up booths and giving away candy to people who sign up for their email list. In fact, maybe it's better to just think of the Internet as something in between club day at college and the first day of prison, when you have to find the right hate group to join before anyone attacks you.
"I was sort of hoping you white supremacists would have like an intramural 'Horse' team or something."
The following four groups are perfect examples of people who never should have found one another. Their online communities have acted as breeding grounds of misinformation, turning the private suspicions of a few idiots into full-blown beliefs. They aren't communities so much as they are just wads of people all perpetuating each other's unhealthy mentalities. I've collected them here in the hope that each one will help us to remember that even when two or more people agree on something, it doesn't mean it automatically stops being stupid.
Drunk Driving Advocates
Let's pretend for a second that there's a group of people out there who really enjoy shaking babies and who have felt victimized by a system that won't allow them to openly participate in their favorite hobby. In their indignation, the baby shakers built online groups and forums lamenting their persecution, outraged that so many people would judge them as a whole just because a few clumsy excitable people don't know what they're doing and occasionally kill an infant or two.
You're not even ... she's not even looking at what she's doing. That's just careless baby shaking.
I don't know you personally, but I suspect that as a human being you would be, at the very least, uncomfortable with that news. Fortunately, that community doesn't exist, but replace the baby shaking with drunk driving and you have a thriving community of people on the Internet disbelieving that anyone would ever try to strip them of their right to drink a bunch and then drive it off. Their primary platform is well summed up here:
What precisely is being criminalized? Not bad driving. Not destruction of property. Not the taking of human life or reckless endangerment. The crime is having the wrong substance in your blood. Yet it is possible, in fact, to have this substance in your blood, even while driving, and not commit anything like what has been traditionally called a crime.
Their argument is that not every drunk driver is a bad driver and just because someone is drunk, it doesn't mean they're going to crash into children and trees, an argument, by the way, that's so flawed and full of holes that it sounds suspiciously like drunk logic. Given the very real statistics of how often drunk drivers are involved in fatal accidents, it's staggering that anyone would try to blow it off as correlation instead of causation. I don't even know how you would possibly argue with someone who is that aggressively ignorant except to explain to them that shaking the shit out of a baby doesn't always snap its neck, but that's still a pretty good reason to never do it.
I know what you two-birds-with-one-stone hobbyists are thinking, but don't get any ideas.
Also, who are these drunk driving enthusiasts who all found one another? I can understand why gun owners would be angry for the same reasons about the regulation of their weapons, or why marijuana advocates would be irate (well, as irate as they can be) about the criminalization of their favorite leisure activity, because shooting guns and smoking weed are, in themselves, enjoyable. But anyone who likes drunk driving enough to stand up for it against federal law is already starting from such a misguided and soulless place that no one will ever feel sorry for them when they bemoan their mistreatment by the law. Why not take up drunk model building instead?
Men Who Despise Women
The open waters of the Internet, it turns out, are no place for a lady. Huge chunks of online real estate are dedicated exclusively to loathing girls. What I can only assume started as tiny communities where spurned or broken-hearted people could commiserate with one another have mushroomed into mobs of confused and hurt men who are only happy when women are being torn down or humiliated.
One forum in particular called Men Going Their Own Way is full of so much disdain and contempt for women, I'm shocked the members can type coherent sentences while presumably vomiting in rage all over their keyboards. If you're short on time, then you can check out highlight threads like "Famous Men Beat Down by Their Females" or "How Women Throw Themselves at Pro Athletes." Mostly the site consists of testimonials, and while all the stories are different, the sentiment is the same: It can be distilled to one comment in a thread called "Girls Dressing Like Sluts -- Where Are the Overalls We Were Promised?"
There was a lot of negative space in his post, so I stuffed it with things I thought he'd enjoy.
The fact that they concentrate on a woman's sexuality almost exclusively is very telling of why they hate women so much. They are mad, yes, but they are also a little afraid. They are afraid that their wives and girlfriends will sleep with athletes and assholes at any given moment because women aren't in control of their sexuality. Their libido is something so powerful and relentless that it can unshackle itself at any minute, reducing a woman to a moaning, impulsive animal in heat.
So while these men complain about seeing women losing their inhibitions (usually through drinking), they are not afraid of those women being momentarily foolish or reckless, they are afraid of those women being true. Then, each time a new member joins with another one-sided story, it reinforces the suspicions of the entire community and they can feel even more justified in their hatred. Even more troubling, some of them casually mention their profiles on dating websites. So fair warning, ladies, maybe check to see if a guy despises you and everyone else with a vagina before scheduling a date. I don't think there's a box you can check for something like that.
Gang Stalking Victims
At some point, you've probably had a terrible day in which all the insignificant irritations you face piled up and seemed to all hit you at once. While you may have thought, "That was really unfortunate," there are thousands of people out there who instead think, "government conspiracy." For those people, there is no such thing as good or bad luck, there is only bully and victim.
If you are unfamiliar with the perceived threat of gang stalking, take a minute to watch at least 30 seconds of the following clip and read the description.
You only have to watch a 30-second chunk because it's all more of the same, just footage of someone driving a car in the rain and absolutely nothing else. But that four-minute video is supposed to be indisputable proof that a mass conspiracy orchestrated by the highest levels of government is subtly harassing and annoying the person shooting the video, all because the government ultimately wants, um, well, no one seems to be able to agree on what the end game is. All they know is that every loud noise, every instance of red and yellow, every crowded supermarket parking lot is intentional, and it's all choreographed flawlessly to sort of mildly frustrate one person.
Unlike the other entries on this list, the targets of gang stalking aren't stupid, they are just genuinely unhealthy. But the Internet has only nurtured their delusions by providing a community of people who all believe in the same absurdity. And if you thought it might be possible to rationalize with them and show them how objectively silly gang stalking actually is, don't bother. You can watch people fail through pages and pages of forums because anyone who questions the conspiracy is, by default, part of the conspiracy.
These people will go on believing that every loud motorcycle, every low-flying plane and every person in a red T-shirt are all working together to create a casserole of inconvenience that, incidentally, isn't a bad casserole, but one the targets will be forced to eat until they feel kind of uncomfortably full. That's exactly what the government wants.
"This message is for all the other targets out there. Look out for all butter-based dishes."
Cheaters Seeking Cheaters
From what I understand, dating websites have helped thousands of people find true love, and certainly no fewer than the eight I saw in the commercials. I have no doubt that singles can cast a much larger, safer net for love through these communities than they can at a bar or a book club. But among the people who sincerely want to find a lasting relationship online, there are just as many people looking to destroy one. Ashley Madison in particular is a dating service wholly built on facilitating adultery. Certainly there are other websites in the world that make money on ruining lives, but none of them are nearly as unapologetic or overt about their dedication to human misfortune as this one.
"I did hand stuff with your boyfriend."
Now, it's easy to detest a dating service that encourages cheating, but to truly understand why it's deplorable, you have to consider the type of people making up its community. Ashley Madison isn't just about finding someone who isn't your significant other for a quick forensics swap, it's about finding someone who also has a significant other and then having secret sex with that person. So the question is, why add a superfluous husband or wife into the equation for no good reason?
The only explanation is that the clients are turned on by their potential to ruin multiple lives at once and by their capacity to devastate if the secret spilled. You know who else feels that high? Movie villains. Movie villains and real-life sociopaths. That's a dangerous urge to foster, and it's even more dangerous to introduce those people to one another. The site claims to have over 15 million members worldwide, which makes it far and away the biggest community on this list. So how could there be that many unhappy people in dying relationships?
Oh. Oh yeah.
Check out more from Soren in 4 Ways to Shirk Responsibility and Deceive Your Way to Trust and A Letter to Parents About the Fake 'Teen Crazes' on the News.