“At A Certain Point, A Mob Mentality Kicks In”

The cumshot heard ’round the world, the celebrity nudes leak that rocked the Internet this past weekend is, sadly, just the beginning. It’s going to get much worse, and not just for the famous and shapely. Eventually, and not too long from now, the crudeness of an actual phone hack will seem laughable. Currently there are drones the size of large insects that the military can control remotely to take photos. As Moore’s Law continues to kick in, there’ll be cheap and readily available drones stateside the size of mosquitoes. Consider it a dubious war dividend. Buy them by the dozen, and get to know the neighbors. And it will be really difficult to legislate what can barely be seen. It’s the new abnormal.

Easily the best thing I’ve read about the hack-and-fap flap and its psychological underpinnings is Molly Lambert’s article at Grantland. An excerpt:

“The Lawrence nudes went viral because of the same impulse that spread with the ISIS beheading video: A morally reprehensible piece of media circulates, and curiosity overwhelms common sense. I looked, because I am an asshole, and I justified it to myself as research for writing this piece (but deep down I knew I was being an asshole). My takeaways were that everyone looked great, that Kate Upton and Justin Verlander are kind of the new Pamela and Tommy Lee for having their cute intimacy (and naked bodies) exposed to the world, and that the world is kind of a terrible place to be female. Women have always had to double-identify to view media, pornographic and otherwise, that is framed for a straight male POV. This was especially clear during this scandal, when it was possible to identify simultaneously with the women in the photos and the anonymous bros thirsting to look at them. At a certain point, a mob mentality kicks in: Everyone else looked at them, why shouldn’t I? They can’t arrest everyone, right? Nothing about the images themselves is degrading to their subjects, just that they were stolen and illegally distributed. And if the ripping-away of consent is a major part of the thrill, well, that I just can’t identify with, because it makes me feel sick.

Even though the web has progressed beyond its image as a haven for social outcasts and adult virgins, there is a very real way in which it remains a conduit for our ids. Human consciousness is compartmentalized by necessity, but the Internet does allow for the relegation of deviant impulses to a specific nonphysical zone, protected by anonymity. But there is no anonymity; it’s as imaginary as the false security you feel while driving in your car, a sense of detached invulnerability that can inspire road rage. Even as a nonbody floating through the web, we are indeed very much traceable to the physical location where the floating gets under way. But it’s the physical bodies that can turn Internet usage into the Milgram experiment. There is no researcher standing behind you intoning, ‘You have no other choice, you must go on,’ but the hive consciousness of the web takes their place. The ease with which morally questionable impulses can be instantly gratified overrides that inner voice that says maybe it’s wrong to do so. There is a feeling that nobody is watching, that all these bad impulses and feelings are plummeting into a garbage disposal or black hole from which they will never return, but that’s a lie we tell ourselves. The Internet is a record, and once information has appeared there, it never really goes away, whether you’re the hacker or the hacked.”