Rage Blogging and Drama: The Elan Gale Story

It has come to my attention that there are some members of the various internet skeptical and secular communities, not to mention members of the greater internet “blogosphere”, who evidently do not know what “blogging” actually IS. I am obligated, therefore, to explain, because I happen to be a “blogger” on occasion myself. It behooves me that everyone understand exactly what it is I’m doing here.
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Another girl that committed suicide is posthumously bullied for teh lulz

Another fifteen year old girl named Amanda — this time not Todd, but Cummings — killed herself after bullying, depression and a bad break-up. And people claiming to be from 4chan and 9gag (the most odious among 4chan’s numbers often use them as a scapegoat) are, again, swarming to make her family’s life post-suicide miserable, according to Jezebel.

According to the Staten Island Advance, Amanda was bullied in life as well as in death. Her parents say that her classmates and peers taunted her, and that she’d recently broken up with her boyfriend before she stepped in the path of a city bus. She spent 6 days after that in a hospital before succumbing to her injuries.

From every possible angle you look at it, that story is a rainbow of awful— for the girl who felt driven to suicide, for her family and loved ones, and for a community in general. Hell, I’m sure the driver of the bus feels like shit as well. For 4chan, though, this was the perfect opportunity to unite around the common cause of digitally harassing Amanda’s surviving family.

I don’t even understand how this is funny. Sure, maybe losing yourself into a mob mentality is fun — I don’t know, I’ve never tried it, though I’ve certainly seen a lot of self-righteousness amongst the folks who witch-hunt and swarm FtBloggers just for being FtBloggers, never mind for actually holding people to account for their actions. But how much reprogramming do you have to endure before you consider it fun, noble, laudable, and hilarious, to hurt someone’s family? How much reprogramming before empathy for grieving relatives is completely subsumed by the pursuit for your personal lulz? Why can’t you do something productive, like making fun of the real monsters who gain political power to ruin your lives, or people who bully children until they kill themselves?

I know some among you within the loose-knit group Anonymous have done exactly this, attacking oppressive political regimes, hunting down people who abuse small animals, even trying to find Amanda Todd’s bullies and “dox” them. So I know you’re not a uniform collective of shitheels. But it boggles me that there are so many shitheels among you. How — and WHY — did intentionally breaking your sense of empathy, the only thing that makes us truly human, become so commonplace? And why is it so uniformly young kids with every privilege for whom this intentional empathy-dectomy is such sport?

Why are Republicans and media pundits really trying to eviscerate Social Security?

These accusations are interesting, plausible, and if true, potentially damaging to one of the greatest successes Democrats (and the beneficiaries of the program, of course) have had in the States. The few facts I know about Social Security are that a) it is not in danger of bankruptcy, the retirement age was raised from 62 when started in 1938 to 67 today (including deferment benefits for workers that keep working til 70), and that according to Milton Friedman, a demigod amongst conservatives, it actually disproportionately benefits the rich.

Friedman claims this is by virtue of the pay-in cap where you only have to pay a percentage of your wages into Social Security up to a certain salary, after which you no longer get “taxed”. You get the full benefit of payment regardless of how close to the pay-in you actually managed to make, so high-income folks get to withdraw much more than they made. Additionally, where mean life expectancy is determined by how much money you have to pay into hospitals, poor people live shorter, and may never collect from the social security fund while rich people who live longer will likely withdraw more than they paid in.

Since this is one of those memes best combatted by information, I’m happy to spread this message, though I’m skeptical without the real numbers. If there’s a risk of insolvency, why couldn’t they just lift the cap since even Lord Friedman suggests it’s configured unfairly? Why must the program be gutted and old people be put even more at risk of dying poor, underfed and without medical care?