by Echo Xie
World news has been pretty scary lately. All of a sudden, “cannibalism,” a word we only previously heard in movies or prehistorical tales, is seemingly topping every newspaper and every website. For most of us, the stories attached to that word are not only deeply disturbing, but also hard to fathom. How can you rationalize a man eating another human being’s face off, or someone videotaped himself killing, dismembering, eating his partner, and uploaded the video on the internet?
You would think no one would want to watch a video like that. But sadly, thanks to our beloved friend social media, the video has been widely shared and viewed by a global audience. (However, you will not find the link in this posting.) As people are saying how totally sickening and disgusting the video is, more are still clicking the link that was tweeted or shared by their friends, or typing keywords on their Google search box.
Our appetite for sensational news and violent tales has helped to turn this most inhumane crime into a horror show, and made the murderer, the 29-years old Canadian porn actor Luka Rocco Magnotta (originally known as Eric Newman until he changed his name six years ago), a devil star. This is probably the most satisfying outcome Magnotta had ever imagined in his twisted mind. (When German police caught him, he was viewing stories of his exploits online in an internet cafe.)
For people with a more modest taste in news, there’s a common hallucination that we have a choice of what kind of information we want to receive. But when a topic is exploding through all the media channels we apparently can’t live without now, as long as you stay connected, the information will get to you eventually (and get to you multiple times) regardless of your determined will to avoid it. On top of everything, it really terrifies me to think what message this kind of news is sending to our curious children and unsettled teens all around the world. Some young people who saw the video refer to it as if it were a horror movie like Saw, but if they’re detached enough to compare such human tragedy to fiction, isn’t there something fundamentally wrong? I’m a firm believer of online free speech. I usually think any kind of censorship, even those claiming to have a good cause (i.e. censorship against violence, child pornography, etc) can become an easy and even convenient excuse for governments to use such controls for political reasons. But true freedom always comes with a price. In cases like this, the price is toxic information polluting our public space.
Maybe we do need to draw a line somewhere.
(The photo used in this post is in the public domain.)