One-Upmanship, Internet Style

In olden days, shocking news stories would hit the public consciousness first when a paperboy would shout the lurid headlines at them as they walked the busy streets to work or while they queue for a haircut at the local barber shop. Well, that’s how I picture it based on old gangster movies (whether they’re accurate documentaries of early 20th century life, I couldn’t care less).

These days, however, they hit the Internet first.

Sometimes there’s a story about some person doing something absolutely unspeakable, like hanging a poor kitten to dry or driving through an inundated city street or, more seriously, some poor soldiers get mowed down while honoring a ceasefire. Most of us go, “This is awful! This person is a monster!” or “He must have left his common sense at home!” and “These terrorists deserve to die!”

Only one person can post first, though, so once someone has said, “This is awful! This person is a monster!” I guess no one else can say it again, it’s like wearing the same dress to a party as another guest. Even if you say, “This is terrible! This person is inhuman!” it just looks like a cheap knockoff, like you’re barely worked up about the victim or victims.

And, to really prove you are a guy that disapproves of treachery in a combat zone, you must up the ante.

“I hope the government declares an all-out-war against these MOFOs and bomb the living shit out of them all!” That’s the kind of rant that shows killing government troops really upsets you, and you are not a lukewarm sissypants who just contents himself to calling them “traitors” and goes off about your daily business. Someone who would do that does not really condemn these separatist rebels, like you do.

Likewise, the next person can’t just go, “Yeah, bomb them all, I’m good with that,” lest they sound complacent. “No, that’s too good for them!” they’ll say. “I hope they’re all skinned alive and rolled around in some gravel and run over by a truck, and then they revive him with cutting-edge medical advances so that he can have his intestines force fed to him after they are set on fire.”

I understand people have to express some kind of strong emotional response to horrible crimes, but I think there’s a difference between your actual feelings and the feelings you come up with after you see where other people’s feelings are setting the bar. If you’re telling other people that their revenge fantasies aren’t good enough and one-upping them with your own, you may have crossed that line.

Sometimes the same thing happens without the violence, where people compete with each other to come up with the most derisive jokes. Like if there’s a story about a stupid politician saying something stupid, people might just constantly one-up each other with generic “stupid” jokes, like, “He’s so stupid it takes him an hour to make minute rice,” or “He’s so stupid he got run over by a parked car!” And while he is stupid, nobody ends up talking about the stupid thing he said, or what its effect is going to be, because they’re too busy showing each other that they’re much smarter than that stupid politician.



About Seeing with Brahmin eyes
My sense of humor can be keen, sarcastic, silly or corny -- sometimes all at once. I enjoy meeting new people with no preconceived ideas about what or what is not possible. You get much more out of life by being open minded and willing. I'm an easy going, good-natured person who loves life and loves people. I'm both optimistic and realistic and pretty objective when it comes to assessing situations, events, etc. In general I am a very positive person and you'll usually find we with a smile on my face.

One Response to One-Upmanship, Internet Style

  1. Diwata Luna says:

    It’s a constant campaign for the most likes.

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