FACEBOOK GLOBAL —
Early Wednesday morning and throughout much of the day Wednesday, starting with groups local to Selatan a lone wolf actor in Indonesia launched a massive reporting and banning spree.
The group which won’t be named here, really a young man who won’t be named here had disagreed with a post in a meme-sharing group that appeared to ridicule one single ideology. After reporting until banning, the adolescent, 18, began reporting groups for content that seemed bigoted or did not agree with his ideology.
Expanding beyond Indonesia, the undertaking, with the assistance of Auto Reporter programs proliferated to other nations, time zones, beliefs, ideologies, and Facebook competencies whether they were pages, groups, or people.
Of the most affected groups were massive exchanges such as Crossovers Nobody Asked For and Tom and Jerry Cheeseposting, as well as niche meme and “shitposting” groups, pages, and people on all sides of the political spectrum.
At first, when bombarded by reports, especially here in the United States, the Right blamed the “@Democrats” and the Left pointed fault at the “Right-wing.” While one could spend the time to show the fallacies in these and similar blame-gaming across the world, the most important issue of our time is tolerance and communication. Specifically, this is an international issue regarding supremacy.
Before we can get into the nitty-gritty of this particular expression of ideological supremacy, let’s define a few things:
zeal /zēl/ noun
- great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or an objective.
fanaticism fa·nat·i·cism /fəˈnadəˌsizəm/ noun
- a belief or behavior involving uncritical zeal or with an obsessive enthusiasm.
One can be fanatical about any belief or ideology, or, behavior or act. So one may be fanatical about anything: being a televangelist, a Republican, watching Football, or even working at the Krusty Krab flipping Krabby Patties. Fanaticism in ideology is where we’re going with this, regardless of how awesome Spongebob Squarepants is for his good-hearted zealotry.
Using Spongebob as an example though, what if he thought others were allowing their lives to stray towards some sort of inferior position, such as not liking Krabby Patties? Ignoring the fact that he still warned against Squidward’s fanaticism in this regard, what if Spongebob derided the Chum Bucket and not only shamed those that ate there (we’re pretending), but also actively attempted to dissuade, even calling the Chum Bucket inferior?
supremacy su·prem·a·cy /so͞oˈpreməsē/ noun
- the state or condition of being superior to all others in authority, power, or status.
What happens often IRL looks exactly like the above fictional situation. One difference however: in life, this kind of fanaticism turns to ideological supremacy and in turn devolves into limiting the rights of others and in the worst cases, violence. Thankfully, Spongebob couldn’t be driven so mad over Krabby Patties.
Humans and supremacy are a toxic couple with a well-detailed history. A couple of examples from the United States include the ideologies of White and Male Supremacy. Each group IRL has experienced some variance on this subject and while there are methods to create balance and equity on a governmental level it may not yet be known how to change it on a massive macro- or miniscule micro-scale.
radicalism rad·i·cal·ism /ˈradəkəˌlizəm/ noun
- the beliefs or actions of people who advocate thorough or complete political or social reform.
As I write this piece radicalism continues to evolve in various ideologies, and even shitposting groups. Worst of all is that this type of extremism can lead to violence. In most cases though, violent extremism is a restrictive act of religious ideologies such as those purported by Nazis and the Islamic State.
propaganda prop·a·gan·da /ˌpräpəˈɡandə/ noun
- information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view.
Memes and shitposts seem like harmless humor and fun, or even some way of finding community and building a nest of security when everything else may seem insecure and precarious. However, without being objective, a joke can contribute to only further the views enshrined in the image or post.
This happens subtly when Left-leaning feminists talk about how “men can’t have babies and therefore shouldn’t write laws about women’s wombs” to the dismay of trans men and women as trans men may be able to have kids but trans women may not have wombs. Thus an inclusive feminist can perpetuate an ideology inadvertently and share what could be used by trans-misogynists on the Right. So while it was based in the fact that, recently men in power have been limiting the autonomy of people with wombs, it mislead in that it erased the existence of trans people.
Similarly, people who identify as Right-wingers may not agree with FOX News, an engine of propaganda, yet they may without realizing it use many of their talking points as they lay out their disagreements with Democrats and their policies or beliefs. Striving for impartiality and being unbiased is a difficult task, and because of this makes the value of journalism that can do so clear. As individuals just sharing content, sometimes uncritically, we cannot at all be called journalists by the same standards, and thus we have don’t, and conversely may share a lot of shitposts.
meme /mēm/ noun
- a humorous image, video, piece of text, etc., that is copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users.
shitposting shit·post·ing /SHitˈpōstiNG/ verb
- posting large amounts of content of “aggressively, ironically, and trollishly poor quality” as opposed to memes which are of better quality.
Both of these forms, memes and shitposts, while fun, and somewhat harmless, do have a way of indoctrinating others into beliefs and ideologies, because if there wasn’t some shared ideas already present, they wouldn’t be very funny, edgy, or trollish. These shared parts may include the following:
virtue signaling vir·tue sig·nal·ing /ˈvərCHo͞o ˈsiɡnəliNG/ noun
- the action or practice of publicly expressing opinions or sentiments intended to demonstrate one’s good character or the moral correctness of one’s position on a particular issue.
dog-whistle politics /dôɡˈ(h)wisəl ˈpäləˌtiks/ noun
- political messaging employing coded language that appears to mean one thing to the general population but has an additional, different, or more specific resonance for a targeted subgroup. The analogy is to a dog whistle, the ultrasonic tone of which is heard by dogs but inaudible to humans.
Bellingcat, “the home of online investigations,” last year published an article on the subject of memes which specifically focused on fascist activity. “From Memes to Infowars: How 75 Fascist Activists Were “Red-Pilled”,” reads into how one may learn a particular language of an ideology or culture and perpetuate it in memes and shitposts while diving deeper down the ideological rabbit hole. Yet, this isn’t only a Right-wing phenomenon, nor even solely an American issue.
Virtue signaling happens everywhere. It happens with references to pop culture and it happens when one says they graduated from such and such a college. It expresses an idea without needing to say it and that’s what happened Wednesday.
Without reaching out to admins or making an impassioned plea to have a particular post removed or a new respect for a particular religion involved in community standards, the boy that caused a chain of groups across the world to go dark, or switch to Secret, Invite-Only, reported the group until it was banned. However, he didn’t stop there. His belief-system had to be defended without a doubt and through a separate page, virtue signaled while performing these actions.
Those that are familiar already know far more about him than will be found here, because he not only reported that group but he set up a bot using the aforementioned method and caused pandemonium across the platform. What set him off? Similar to fascists discussed by Bellingcat: memes.
“The Facebook shitposting community is not safe,” “attacked,” “scared,” and
“legit upset,” were all responses from users across the world. At the end of the day, identity politics isn’t solely a phenomenon on the Left. Our communities, friends, jobs, education, nation, religion, race, language, ethnicity, and even memes are how we identify, and we can be fiercely defensive of our identities. This, not that.
So what can we do? Well, if you read this far you’re off to a good start. People who are violently, aggressively, or trollishly defensive of their own identities often have a hard time entertaining other opinions or memes, especially if they’re perceived as the opposition. For those of us that don’t believe there are sides, agree that the opposition solely consists of antisocial and aggressive or violent individuals, and believe in a someday of unity, the answer may be something very common to the transgender community: