Fear and Loathing and Evil White Men

How the online blame game poisons paradise

Ryan Frawley

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Photo by Asa Rodger on Unsplash

There’s a chasm between this world and the other

A dizzying void between the online world and the real one. A cleft where crows circle beneath our feet, no bigger than beetles.

It’s a good thing, too. Because here in this online asylum, it’s nothing but shrill screeching and hysterical hatred. Our worse angels warring for online attention, saying anything they can to get a reaction. Online, there is no good or bad. There is only the seen and the unseen. If it bleeds, it leads, and soulless algorithms aim squarely at the dark circles around our hearts. You’re supposed to be angry and fearful and depressed. That’s the point.

Like any corrupt corporation, the Internet gets worse as it grows more powerful. The wild voices crowd out the more rational ones. Hate beats moderation every time. And the more we come to rely on the Internet, the more this twisted mirror looks to us like the real thing.

But it isn’t. Outside, blue birds sing instead of tweeting. Outside, the quiet trails wind through a forest incapable of hate. Outside, people smile and say hello and help each other when they can. Even if they’re Evil White Men™ like me.

I shouldn’t have read it

I knew I shouldn’t. But the great titles are those you can’t look away from. Either because they promise something so tempting you can’t resist, or make a statement so outrageous you have to click on it just to make sure you’re not the only one who disagrees.

I won’t link to the article. It doesn’t matter. You can find a million others like it online. An article taking one person’s personal tragedy and reading into it a societal guilt. It’s my fault, the article argued, and mine specifically. When a woman gets murdered on a different continent, I’m responsible for that because the killer had the same chromosomes as me.

It’s an argument I hear a lot. Collective guilt, rearing its hideous head again from the swamp of the past. In the constant online orgy of privilege checking and oppression comparison, being an Evil White Man™ makes me automatically in the wrong in any given situation. I’m called a…

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Ryan Frawley

Novelist. Essayist. Former entomologist. Now a full-time writer exploring travel, art, philosophy, psychology, and science. www.ryanfrawley.com