Disgrace in cyberspace
Published: Sunday, March 3, 2013
Updated: Sunday, March 3, 2013 19:03
Twenty children were executed at school last December. This shouldn’t be news to anyone. The massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary will forever sustain as an oppressive low point in American history.
If only everyone could treat it like one.
Fast forward to Tuesday, Feb. 26. I logged into Facebook after an extensive night of trifling German homework.
Among the casual statuses was a photo that froze me in deadlock. A Facebook page titled “Liar Liar, Plants For Hire,” named after a hilarious joke from SpongeBob SquarePants, posted an unsavory picture that intensified my hopelessness for humankind.
The image consisted of four panels in two-by-two formation. The first was an illustration of a child wielding a pistol, targeting an elementary school. The second featured a real image of President Obama facing the child, with a caption reading something like, “Noooo, stop, think of the children!”
Brace yourself here.
The third and fourth panels showed a close-up of the child’s face sneering at Obama, followed by the child exposing his erect penis, because he was essentially ‘thinking of the children.’
Allow yourself a moment to absorb that image.
Not three months following the Sandy Hook shootings, the demoralizing deaths of 20 children have been tattered and diminished into online puns. I entered enragement and reported the image to the Facebook authorities and have since failed to locate it again.
For readers unfamiliar with what memes are, this picture is a vile example. In essence, memes are one or more pictures marked with captions that correlate into a joke or message. The creator of the meme in question simply doesn’t know what a joke is.
I’ve been blessed to find fellow UB students who share my opinions. Jacqueline Edwards, a freshmen archeology major, shared her experience in finding a meme about the Sandy Hook shootings.
“It was in support of the Westboro Baptist Church and the idea that the gunman was sent there since Connecticut supports gay marriage,” Edwards said. “Not only is it insensitive to the families who lost their children but to the state as a whole.”
America has been reduced to a country that grieves over the murders of children, while insensible jackasses make it an anecdote. Calamities like this are proof that the youth of America no longer represents a unified nation but rather a clustered cesspool of assorted cultures and generations, forced to mingle amongst each other by a hereditary accident.
Roxanne Birx, a senior linguistics and psychology major, expressed her love for memes and how they can be abused.
“The callousness of people is amazing, and the Internet only exacerbates it,” Birx said. “But satirizing the shooting? That’s way worse. Awareness on many issues should be raised but not that way.”
Birx graced me with a synopsis of adolescent cognitive development based on her studies as a psychology major. She explained that adolescent brains, specifically the prefrontal cortex, typically don’t develop until they reach their early 20s.
“This could be an underlying factor in the apparent proclivity for shocking memes and bad Internet content like snuff films, clips of people beating each other, or websites for people committing suicide,” Birx said. “Seriously, there are actually websites that promote suicide, blog about it and ‘help you make the right decision.’”
I used to be offensive during my younger years on MySpace and when I first created my Facebook. I sometimes posted racial and feminine insults without comprehending the horrendous self-image I had created.
Easy Internet accessibility allows underdeveloped minds misuse online content around the clock. The expansion of Wi-Fi has rewarded us freedom; lately, I’ve witnessed this freedom abused too many times.
My friend Corey Kotowski posted photos last Winter break of someone from our high school who decided to change genders. He wrote something like, “See! (The person’s name) really did used to be a girl!” Other Facebook users and I hassled him until the pictures were removed. He deleted me on Facebook afterward. Boy, he showed me.
Misfortunes like this suggest to me that cyber bullying is more prevalent nowadays. Alezandra Guillen, a freshman Spanish major, participated in a social science research conference and won first place. She administered an anonymous survey about bullying to 200 students from Henniger High School in Syracuse, N.Y. Results of her survey contradicted the hypothesis that cyber bullying is more prevalent than traditional bullying.
“Of the students who had access to one or more social networking sites, less than half claimed that they have been cyber bullied,” Guillen said. “However, over half of the students surveyed believed that cyber bullying was easier than traditional bullying.”
Obinna Naana, a freshman mathematics major, suggests Internet users should turn a blind eye to offensive memes because they come with the current technology.