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Why microscopic attention spans + factual fallacies make for depressing news feeds

now or later

Sometimes, when I speak to the more gender issue sensitive friends in my life and they tell me about all of the inequality and craziness perpetuated on an almost daily basis, I’ll always listen, even if I don’t fully understand. See, I don’t really personally discriminate against people for anything, because my personal experiences have taught me that no one should be judged for something they have no control over/didn’t have a choice in. The fact is, because I think that way, and the majority of the people I interact with are relatively liberal and share similar views to me, and I don’t go diving in cesspools like 4chan, some areas of Reddit etc. searching for intolerance and hatred; I don’t encounter it that often. You could say I’m somewhat oblivious, failing to understand why anyone feels like they should have any say over another’s life and worth.

Of course, every now and again, I am violently jostled back into the “real world” – this time by stumbling across the attitudes of a lot of kids’ reactions to the Tim Lambesis arrest, a lot of which have been truly sickening. For one thing, his relationship with his wife is clearly not healthy, but that’s between them. It’s their business, and everyone claiming that they know intimate details or calling his wife despicable names aren’t worthy of the air they breathe.

Lambesis Despicable Wife Tweets

(Read more here.) But then, it reminds me of the reactions to the whole Chris Brown situation, saying how Rihanna deserved it for various fabricated reasons. And then I sit there and think “Wow, there really is an attitude problem with the youth of today”. The saddest part of all of this is it’s not just young males who are idiots and don’t know any better; it’s girls too, who aren’t thinking about their place in the world and what their words or actions mean.

I realise it’s not just a gender thing, remembering all of the hatred spread around the time of the Japanese tsunami and how livid it made me feel. “That’s what you get for Pearl Harbour!” was the general consensus from poorly educated (sadly, mostly American) kids who weren’t even old enough to truly understand the ramifications of such an event; kids so brainwashed and desensitized to everything around them they think foreign policy is equivalent to a multiplayer deathmatch on Call Of Duty 13.

You see, humans are exclusionist by nature; striving to try and divide and categorize people in as many different ways as possible. Part of this is exemplified and incredibly noticeable by everyone’s fascination with mentioning Lambesis’ religion with an almost incessant need to push it to the forefront. Why? Let’s face it, non religious people are keen to mention his Christian faith because they feel like they can claim superiority over him. “Hey, a Christian guy did something shitty, take that Christians who try and claim moral superiority!” and by the same token, the same thing happens the other way around. People of faith are keen to distance themselves from him and this sordid event, claiming that his newfound absence of faith is what has lead to this un-Christian action to transpire.

Jim Jefferies extols some wisdom about the exclusionist paradigm and how it can relate to religion. 

While that’s all very interesting, I’d like to posit that it really doesn’t matter. At all. I am an Atheist, but my mother in law is a devout Christian, yet we get along extremely well because we both have a very positive and personal approach to our own beliefs. Most of the conflict between religious and non-religious people tends to emanate from poor attitudes on both sides – an exclusionist paradigm. “You aren’t like me, therefore you must be less than me” etc. It’s a bad mindset to be in, but sadly one we find ourselves locked in over the internet more often than not due to the generally aggressive and immediate nature of a lot of users online.

Frankly, regardless of how you slice it, if Lambesis did this then it’s a truly despicable act, regardless of whether he decided to pray before or after doing it. Seriously, how does mentioning his personal faith make a damn bit of difference to proceedings? It’s just trying to drive wedges between people and employ catharsis as a way to make readers of this story feel better about themselves and more secure in their own personal code of ethics. Everyone seems to forget that you SHOULDN’T feel good about this because it’s a shitty thing to happen and religion or not you should pay attention to what’s important and let the information sink in.

Tim Lambesis As I Lay Dying arrested for murder plot

The internet is a truly amazing invention and has given us many incredible things, but our biggest downfall is that it has encouraged and fostered a relationship of immediacy in our younger generation. Everything is lightning fast and at your fingertips. It’s no longer the satisfactory response to be patient or to spend time analyzing the facts, instead, especially as journalists due to the sheer amount of competition, to get ahead we’re forced to dive in, creating posts without sources or fact checks, helping to spread misinformation. Because being first is more important than being right, and being heard is more important than being patient. It also takes the high school mentality of being the centre of attention and exacerbates it tremendously, to often ridiculous heights. People will go so far as to disfigure themselves or make “baiting” YouTube videos, just so people will look at them, listen to them, give them some form of validation.

But, due to the immediate nature and microscopic attention spans of the internet generation, they move on pretty quickly, causing people to consistently produce more content as a way of trying to maintain and desperately grasp onto that attention they are receiving. There is so much of this found online that the few genuine sites you come across are actually a revelation, such as Hyperbole & A Half, whose honesty in dealing with difficult subjects is unprecedented in the blogspot generation.

Hyperbole ad a half angry face

One of the many wonderful images from Hyperbole & A Half

This has kinda gone off the rails a bit, but I just want to say that regardless of whether Lambesis is guilty or not, if you’re a big fan of his music, here’s some good news: it’ll always be there. No one is going to delete it from the universe, and wipe it from your memories. Sure, if he turns out to be guilty it may taint your image of the man, but that shouldn’t completely ruin the music for you.

As for people who can’t believe that someone could do something like this – the life of Lambesis is one life in nearly 7 billion. To put things into perspective, and humble your existence, I would recommend spending some time staring at this page.

Since you started reading this piece, well over a hundred people have died and well over a hundred people have been born. Think of your life, and all the different facets that it is comprised of. The people you know and love, that depend on you. The people that you depend on. Every second, a life like yours is snatched away. We can’t even comprehend that; especially considering how devastating, slow and emotional it is when we lose someone close to us – yet in a blink of an eye, five more people have died as you shed a tear. It’s terrifying, and demonstrates that their is a lot of craziness in this world and frankly, ANYTHING is possible.

Here’s a further humbling thought for you – One day, that number ticking up will be someone you love, someone you cherish, and their passing will tear your world apart. By the same token they’ll be someone across the world staring at those numbers with the same blank faced expression that you are currently wearing. Scary, isn’t it?

I suppose in summation – Can we just treat each other a little nicer, yeah? I really don’t want to read shit like this anymore because it’s just absolutely unacceptable and life’s too short for this crap. NO-ONE DESERVES to be killed. This conversation shouldn’t be about whether he’s guilty or not and how that makes you want to throw out your As I Lay Dying CD collection. It’s a tragic situation for everyone, most of all, his wife, because she has to sit there and think that the man she was married to for 8 years has been arrested for hiring someone to KILL her. Whether it’s true or not, those allegations will traumatize and haunt her forever, and that’s not right.

Thanks for reading, please share your thoughts in the comments, and have a great weekend.

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