On Steubenville

Like many, I’ve been following the latest “news” media/reality show episode on rape, football players, and the impact of social media in shaping narratives.  Naturally I comfort myself over this indulgence with the thought that I’m delving deeper into motivations, human nature, and solutions to the problems presented, and so far the following three links have proved most thought provoking and helpful in that effort:




Through some short interactions with  and after reading these links, I speculated that perhaps the pictures or video (or whatever these rapists recorded and shared) constituted an attempt to hide behind a mob mentality to assuage the guilt these boys inevitably felt before, during, and after their horrible actions.  Social media, viewed in this light, is not the reason or the cause, but merely the latest method for an aspect of behavior that has consistently been with our species ever since we left the hunter-gatherer days of the Pleistocene era.

The interesting part regarding social media is that once it reached a certain critical mass, there were enough people saying “this is not okay” to get things moving in the right direction.  This should be comforting, that rather than a being only a tool to comfort guilty consciences, the internet can also serve as a means to change the way we think about these things for the better.  But a larger point is this, even if these rapists won the approval of the entire internet, even if the entire human species looked at this situation and got it wrong, deep down we would all still know that it was wrong - that treating a human as less than human will inevitably lead to dissatisfaction, unhappiness, negative emotions and the destruction of (what should be) our most prized possession: our character.

So rather than looking to the internet mob for approval or to disapprove of someone or something else, the most important act is understanding what acts are moral and immoral, appropriate or not appropriate; in themselves and in our own particular situations.  What makes up each act?  What are we trying to achieve?  Who are we becoming by each act?  Why is that important?

The approval of the mob/internet is a secondary measure, it’s a cry for help when we rationalize and can’t understand or adequately examine our own acts.  To adopt (and probably misunderstand) one of Nachlasse's themes, in the absence and desire for a system/authority/parent, the children will try to force the adults to become adults.  The problem is that no system, authority or parents can swoop in and save us from ourselves.  Any approval will never be enough to convince us that wrong isn’t wrong, and any corrective criticism only works when the narcissistic ego is tamed.  Thus the problem itself nearly always keeps the solution at bay, neutered, and ineffectual.