The Vancouver Sun reports that “Police discovered details of the rape only after someone who recognized the victim came in and told officers that images of her being raped were on Facebook.”
The photos, which depict a “16-year-old girl being gang-raped by a group of seven males in a…field,” were uploaded by a 16-year old boy in what we can only imagine he must’ve misguidedly thought to be yet another ‘cool’ idea. What better indicator of his generation’s future (and also ours collectively)?
Though we seem to be seeing the beginnings of a society of self-control in which we’ll continuously help police ourselves by detailing our activities in public social feeds (likely soon to be mandatory), why doesn’t the knowledge of being watched stop the more criminal minded among us from doing what they’ve always done, or, better yet, getting ‘smart’ about it and refraining from posting incriminating pictures complete with sassy comments in ironically titled Facebook photo albums? Just what is it about modern life that causes us to continuously both challenge authority and, if self-destructively, compulsively document it?
Yet for all this talk of self-destruction or even self-control, it seems the authorities are still, in some ways, utterly powerless. Reports abound that the Canadian cops can’t stop web users from downloading and distributing the gang rape photos, saying that “copies of the images have been ‘spreading like wildfire,’” even reaching children at public schools who, in turn, “came home crying and upset.” As well they should, if this is any indicator of the future ahead of them…
Most sinister here, its almost as if the rape continues to be vicariously experienced by online abusers despite public outcries such as this one, from local Police Sgt. Jennifer Hyland:
“I want to be clear about this. What happened after this incident and continues to happen is beyond disgusting. Those photos are child pornography. They have been viewed, shared, saved and re-posted numerous times. This is an offence and is so socially corrupt it is sickening. The posting and viewing of photos is continuing to victimize the young girl and her family and needs to stop.”
Such a fire it is, that any kind of resistance seems to only fan the flames of it. Will there be any way for us to adapt to this atmosphere of perpetual online brutality short of total desensitization to it? I mean to say, is not gang rape the perfect metaphor for what happens increasingly to (usually) innocent victims on online forums, such as /b/ when the so-called ‘veil of anonymity’ drapes over our usernames or IPs and, as they used to say on MTV, “people stop being polite and start getting real?”
Is it, as it so often seems, that society is becoming more brutal, even tribal? Or, instead, that only now with the help of instantaneous social self-reporting that we’ve become again aware of the ‘barbaric’ ways in which ‘polite,’ or ‘civilized’ Western society really functions (if you’ll excuse the expression) when left to its own devices?