Monday, October 11, 2010

The Youthful Culture of Hate & the Internet

Thinking about the Modern Warfare 2 (MW2) culture of hate, I am appalled at the racism, gay-bashing, and just outright bullying that you hear on there. I've been called
"motherfucker" or "fag" or "nigger"
or "40 year old virgin living in your mom's basement" by so many 11 year olds now that I'm convinced that the unfettered anonymity of the internet is doing precious little to quash this culture among our youth. Rather, I see it as exacerbating the problem that was already there.

When I went to school in rural-trending-towards-suburban Georgia in the late 80's, if you called someone who wasn't your friend a "faggot" you knew that there was going to be a fight. The ability to just spew whatever hatred out there that you want, without fear of reprisal, brings what was our immature culture of hatred shared among friends, out in the open, as it were.

I've been playing a bunch with these guys from Jamaica. The other night, some kids were complaining about losing to "a bunch of foreign niggers."

One of the guys on my team then said, "How about I follow your ip address with my tcp/ip sniffer, come over to your house, rape your mom while I make you watch, and then kill you? I don't work; I got time to find you."

The other team then quickly exited the chat room, while everyone else laughed. I was appalled again. I said, "That was a bit offsides." He said back, "Now that little bastard will think twice about dropping racist shit on me."
All of this anonymity permmited by the internet, brings us into a new space. It's comparable to what Zygmunt Bauman calls the postmodern space of the city:

City life is a life morally impoverished and thus free to be subjected to unchallenged rule of other than moral criteria. It is a joyously embraced choice - urban relations are anonymous and non-committal.
Also, when we look at a popular culture that embraces a minority non-sub-altern style as the apogee of cool, and that style chooses to denigrate, not the majority, but sub-altern segments of society, I see little wonder in reflecting on these issues as a reflection of cultural attitudes which manifest themselves in the hate-filled speech of MW2.

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