Our Civilized Violence

16" x 20" mixed media on canvas

There was actually a time when we didn't scream at each other. I remember this because it was my job. 

I've handled social media for nonprofits and private clients for years. I came to know that the easiest way to gain exposure for your cause is to piggyback content on the top ten trending topics for any given day. 

In four years, I watched every single trend turn into politics. Then this bled into the entire top 20. Every platform, thread, and comments section exploded into a verbal war. 

These are our modern gladiator games. 

We view them on screens instead of an arena. We watch with chariots of opposition self-implode in Internet flame wars. And we champion the cause of "Being Right."

The Internet wasn't always this way. I remember that, too. In fact, it is something I lament about often on my pages. Monetization has corroded the place like acid. It's also forced us into depending on the Internet for societal necessities and our livelihoods. 

Existing without the Internet 
is the new "living off the grid."  

The idea of a job requiring you to have social media or firing you over something you said online was absurd not so long ago. But that's back when people believed in a thing called privacy. Now, you can run entire political campaigns online based on citizen information that is illegal for you to collect by any other method than the Web. 

We are now living in Ed TV

Every aspect of our society reflects this film. I remember watching it in the theater and thinking, "There's no way that people will willingly give up their privacy this way."

Yet that's exactly what we did. And all these caches of information we've left behind in our wake during the course of our Internet existence has been used against us. We've now spent years being bombarded by advertising and programs that keep us entertained, spending money, and woefully uninformed.

So who's the villain here?

Well, it's us. We're choosing what these algorithms show us by our search histories, creating self-made bubbles that confirm our most irrational beliefs. We engage in the civilized violence of internet wars because our societal angst demanded a conscience-free space of indulgence that lacked real-world consequences. In doing so, we managed to unite the lunatic fringe of the Dark Web and toss them into the national spotlight for our own amusement.

Are we surprised that the Dark Web has spiders? 

No, but a few of us like to live vicariously on the dark side through them. Others enjoy playing with them for personal gain and political favors. But when they bite, there's always this stupified shock that such people exist as if we didn't create them in the first place by idolizing a "normal life" no one ever seems to have. 

We let all these Machiavellian and anarchistic schemes flourish simply because we took it for granted that we have a responsibility as citizens to make sure our elected officials are more than "the lesser of two evils." And we allowed the subsequent atrocities they caused because death has so plagued this nation for the last twenty years that civility has no place left in the house, nevermind the table.

How many of you have lost someone in these plagues?

Covid-19 wasn't the first Horseman to arrive on the scene. Many of us lost people to a wide assortment of everyday diseases during the last two decades. The recession and poverty boosted these numbers for many families. Mass shootings and drug overdoses added to the toll. Then there were deaths from consumer products and foods entering our homes with hidden dangers, all of which various companies hid from the public. Others died from environmental factors after their communities were destroyed by ambitious developers and overzealous politicians. So for twenty years, we've screamed over who is responsible for these plights. 

Today, I'm asking you to stop screaming.

One day, all this will certainly be over. We may be in better or worse shape for having gone through this experience as a nation. But I can tell you honestly that if you aren't using this as an opportunity to improve yourself and your communities, then you are wasting time. Covid hit a pause button on our planet. We've seen ceasefires in areas no one ever thought possible. It shouldn't take something killing us to make us stop killing each other. And it shouldn't take the destruction of our societal fabric to make us realize that the Internet is only as hostile as we choose to make it.

Light, Peace & Good Health on your path. 


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