Techno horror: When the digital world bleeds into reality

OPINION

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Marilyn Muncy

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A picture can capture a moment, one word can make a powerful statement and a single action can represent that person for a lifetime. These things can be for better or for worse, but either way, it is out there forever.

At least when that picture, word or action is posted online. Even simple off-hand jokes can shape how people in the real world will view an individual.

“Cancel culture” has become a big point of discussion nowadays, headed by the Internet, that many fear could destroy the images of innocent or changed people. A group boycotting companies and performers with reason is fine, but when a large group digitally attacks a person based purely on their emotions on the matter, rather than rationally looking at the situation, it can be very dangerous for the individual under fire — the latter tends to be referred to as “mob mentality.”

In our modern climate, it is a big risk to speak your mind about politics and social morals — especially when you are a public figure. An individual could have done something ignorant or offensive years ago and apologized for it, but if it is deemed politically or socially wrong nowadays by the masses, the Internet can be a fairly hostile place towards that individual.

About forty years ago, Liam Neeson had a female friend tell him she was raped by a black person. In a fit of rage upon hearing this, Neeson said that he stood outside of a pub ready to attack the black man that was to exit it. He admitted to this in a public interview and said that he had learned how wrong that thought process is, using it to inspire his revenge-based roles in film.

Neeson admitted to feeling guilty about this event and believes that it changed him for the better. But, people still went after him for it, calling for him to even be digitally removed from the new film “Men In Black: International.”

Mr. Parsons, an AP Psychology teacher, put into perspective the acts of people within these difficult situations and how to handle them.

“I strongly believe people change,” Parsons said. “People’s values change, people’s circumstances change. People go from being a kid to having kids, people go from not having a job to having a job with a lot of responsibility. And that just forces people to change and re-evaluate their lives, so I think that people can mature and I think we should probably treat people based on who they are now today and not who they were ten or twenty years ago.”

James Gunn and Kevin Hart both got in serious trouble when some old tweets came back to light, with Gunn’s old pedophilic jokes from 2008 to 2012 and Hart’s old homophobic jokes from 2009 to 2011. Gunn had most people come to his defense and try to convince Disney to keep him as director of “Guardians of the Galaxy 3,” which they later took him back as, versus Hart who was condemned for his tweets, even after apologizing, and was unable to host the Oscars.  

“I think you have to be honest with yourself,” Parsons said. “And if you say, ‘Listen, I did something, a long time ago, and it was wrong, and I apologize, and I’m sorry for it, and that is not who I am today,’ — if people accept that apology, so be it. If they don’t, so be it. You have to move on with your life.”

In January, students from Covington High School were standing in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., when a group of Black Hebrew Israelites and Native American activists led by Nathan Phillips both came up to the boys. This incident was quickly jumped on by the media and left much out of context.

Some said that the Black Hebrew Israelites allegedly called the boys “crackers” and “future school shooters.” Some said that Phillips lied about what really happened.

But a majority of the first news stories on the event said that the boys were the aggressors and villains in the situation. Even when the full video was released, it was already too late and many had already had their opinions on the fact fixed and believed that the only ones in the wrong were the boy.

The students began getting death threats, like Disney film producer Jack Morrissey tweeting “#MAGAkids go screaming, hats first, into the woodchipper,” and many others followed by sending out tweets and statements before the full video was released. Some of these stayed up, some were deleted, but the doxxing and support of violence against them led to some students suing news stations for the incident.

“But, I think we need to avoid that,” Parsons said. “I think we need to act as individuals and I think we need to take time to gather all the evidence and think about what really happened and I don’t think we always need to jump to a quick conclusion.”

We, as a generation, are heading to a world overrun by technology — if we are not already. Everyone seems to have a form of social media at their fingertips and uses it constantly.

We, as a generation, must remember that there are many different people around the world. There are cultures with different values, groups with different opinions, people with different lifestyles and the list goes on.

We, as a generation, must remember to always make sure that the information we are looking at is correct and to never go immediately for the neck in any situation, it may just be a miscommunication or dark joke taken too seriously and we are only getting the perspective from one side of the situation.

We, as a generation, must remember to forgive, because any day, the person receiving the blunt of the hate could be you.

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