April 16th, 2021


Social-pathic Media

Greg Crosby

By Greg Crosby

Published July 12, 2019

Social-pathic Media
The Internet is no different than a lot of things that we have at our disposal.

Fire, water, hammers, tire irons, knives, ropes, guns, and various medications can be used for either good or bad. It all depends on who gets their hands on them and how they use them.

The Internet was heralded as a great boon to mankind when it was developed. It would serve as a wonderful tool for education, research, and communications, they said. And they were right. Up to a point.

The focus was on the good part but what they didn't tell you was that the Internet could also be abused in a wide range of dark and destructive ways.

Decades into it now, we all see it. In addition to the decent, productive, and beneficial aspects, the Internet offers an easy entry into mayhem and evil for many people.

Consider a sampling of what is available to anyone with a simple click: A proliferation of porn sites which are easily accessed by innocent children as well as child molesters and other sexual deviates; a myriad of sites designed to recruit and abet terrorists and arsonists; ways to commit any number of crimes; and of course social media sites which provide a forum for liars, haters, and trouble-making instigators.

Social media, like fire, can be a benefit or a very dangerous thing. The fact that any one person can instantly communicate with millions of people in the world is stunning when you think about it.

To be able to do that, to reach millions, all you need is access to a computer or smart phone, and literally everyone has that ability. You don't need to take a test, pass a board of review, or know the "right people." Just text and click and you've reached the world.

Prior to the Internet if you needed to communicate to vast numbers of people you had to get the word out through newspapers, radio, or television, and you had to have money or connections to accomplish that.

And before those modern communications existed people gathered in town squares, taverns, or public halls to vent and share ideas. It wasn't easy. It wasn't fast. And it certainly wasn't anonymous.

Today social media has made everyone a broadcaster, for better of worse. Social media is used daily by presidents, prime ministers, and other prominent politicians. Businesses, organizations, schools, and churches use it. For many of a certain age, it has become the main source of news. And yes, it is the modern era's answer to gossiping over the backyard fence or telephone party line.

Women especially enjoy using social media to keep connected with their family and friends and to keep current on what's going on in their lives.

Social media attracts everybody. Including sociopaths. Narcissistic sociopaths. One famous case in point is former Democratic New York congressman Anthony Weiner, who successfully destroyed his career through a series of sex scandals he engaged in with young girls. He would send them sexually explicit texts along with naked photos of his private parts, including sending one such picture while lying in bed with his toddler son sleeping next to him.

Not all misuse of social media is as disgusting as the Weiner story; some are just stupid and harmless. But others are stupid and harmful. Take the latest story of the teenage moron and the ice cream, for example.

The day before the 4th of July a video was posted on social media showing a teenage girl in a Walmart store removing a carton of Blue Bell Tin Roof ice cream from a grocery freezer. She then removes the top and licks the ice cream before putting the top back on and returning the carton to the store's freezer.

Since then the video has had more than 13 million views and at least 3 known copycat morons who did the same thing as the original idiot and posted it on social media too.

See, the whole idea is to post this stuff on line so that the entire world can know just how big a jerk you are.

The Blue Bell company identified the Walmart where the juvenile licked the ice cream in what they called a "malicious act of food tampering." The company thinks it found the compromised ice cream but removed all half-gallon Tin Roof products from the store just to be safe.

This incident and the other copycat incidents will undoubtedly cause the company to add new protections on their products to prevent future tampering. In the end it will wind up costing the company a great deal of money and time, not to mention negative publicity and customers who might hesitate to buy that brand of ice cream.

There are millions of sociopaths in the world, always have been. But today the sociopaths can easily find other sociopaths who will join with them in causing havoc, vandalism and worse.

I think it was better when idiots had to find a soapbox to stand on in the public square. At least then the stupidity and damage could be contained within a relatively small area.

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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. He's been a JWR contributor since 1999.