Those of you who know me, are aware that it is not my custom to write with a poison pen. I disclaim any intention of doing that now. But I am compelled to express the revulsion I feel about the dark side of instant global communications. Or rather, the glaring misuse of spectacular technology by millions of people.
Although profound ignorance and ugly images abound online, they come with the package of freedom and unlimited accessibility to global discourse. There is nothing that can or should be done about that. That is as it should be. My attention here is focused on the motivation for the overwhelming abundance of mediocrity and ugly images that infest the Internet.
Narcissus had cause to gaze at his image when he saw it reflected in a pool. It was love at first sight. But he also paid a heavy price for his self-adoration. Having ensnared him into seeing his reflection in a pool, the goddess of righteous anger, Nemesis, punished him for his conceit with a love that could not be requited: the love of self. Nemesis proclaimed, “May he who loves not others love himself.” In a perpetual gaze at the image in the pool, Narcissus experienced what it was like for others who had pined for his love but were denied any hint of love from him. When Narcissus died of unrequited love, his spirit became a beautiful flower that bears his name.
Although the lad’s beauty was not created by him, Narcissus and his watery image were beautiful, as are his flower and the exquisite mythology of which it is a part. Not so in the turbid depths of You Tube droppings deposited by sub-standard humans. Oh, am I being politically incorrect, or—at best—a snob, by using the words, sub-standard humans? Well, consider a video I saw on a television news broadcast.
Its source was You Tube. There is no dialogue on the videotape, but we hear the metallic giggles of an unseen teenager behind a camera. It had deliberately trapped a dog, and then set it on fire. It didn’t narrate the self-evident horror scene for us (a precautionary measure, I’m sure), but we hear its obscene laughter as it tortures the dog to death by fire.
I don’t watch You Tube for a variety of reasons, but I’m sure the example I’ve cited above is not common, even on You Tube. But, what I have seen on televised excerpts derived from You Tube includes staged street fights; victims of brutality; and bullying. Just as the fascination for his reflection in the pool compelled Narcissus to gaze at it incessantly, many You Tube viewers encourage sub-standard humans to clutter the Internet with sadistic videos. Since sadism and the hunger for fame are incurable, and sensational videos require progressively greater violence, it would not surprise me if anonymous killers will soon submit not-for-profit snuff videos. Like the sadistic teenager who secured its safety through anonymity, the potential killers’ not-for-profit snuff videos would be a reward in themselves, a fulfillment of the fame that untalented self-lovers crave.
Refreshing are those instances where someone submits a video not for fame, but just to share an unusually amusing incident, often including a pet or stray animal. The same is true of videos that have captured phenomenal natural or social events. However, the Internet is jammed with the muck of people who have a profound lust for fame without a hint of the talent that sometimes generates well-earned fame.
Average people have always celebrated mediocrity, which includes worship of many basically untalented famous people. But the unprecedented technological phenomenon of instant global fame, however fleeting and irrelevant, via a mere flick of a click, encourages untalented people with a passion for fame to dive into the You Tube pool. Reflected in the depths of that pool are the base elements of those who gaze into the pool—or, I should say, cesspool.