Commentary

The Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Massacre

Over the past couple of years I’ve lambasted social media networks for their complicit role in spreading -- make that accelerating -- hate in a manner and a speed that could not happen without their real-time digital interconnectivity. Days after the Chabad of Poway synagogue shooting, I’d like to lay the blame somewhere else: with you, me, all of us.

We are all complicit if we allow this to continue. And we will only have ourselves to blame for the next racially motivated mass murders that occur because we weren’t more vigilant.

Social networks have already demonstrated their inability and unwillingness to regulate themselves. Sure, they make promises, express regrets, apply some bandaids hear and there, but they haven’t taken any substantive action to create protocols that would stop bad people from organizing bad intent that manifests into a new form of social sharing that should be criminal.

I don’t believe it is a First Amendment issue any more than shouting “fire” in a crowded movie theater. And I don’t buy that social media networks aren’t “media” companies that shouldn’t be regulated.

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So if not them, or our regulators and lawmakers, it needs to be up to us to put pressure on all of those sources to make some changes for social good. I’m not a media buyer or an advertiser who wields economic might, so all I can do is write a column like this to encourage those of you who are to exercise your market power. Or like me, you can also simply write to your Congressional representatives.

If we do nothing, the next one isn’t just on the social networks, it’s on us.

And it’s getting worse.

Certain social media founders like to boast that they’re simply “bringing the world together,” but as Poway, New Zealand, Pittsburgh and other socially activated attacks demonstrate, they also are enabling worlds of insidious subcultures to come together, organize and spread with no governance.

While this isn’t new, it’s getting worse, because of the real-time power of social media to “share” it.

“Though these men are lone gunmen, they’re not alone — like the New Zealand attack, the Poway shooter’s actions were cheered on by an online audience of anonymous trolls. One of the first responses to the 8chan post suspected to be from the gunman was a user imploring, 'get a high score'," columnist Charlie Warzel wrote in Sunday’s New York Times.

For a generation raised on massive multiplayer shooter games, the combination of real-time social-sharing and toxic dehumanizing rhetoric is creating a new media form altogether.

I don’t even know what to call this new form of massive multi-spectator hate crime, but if we allow it to continue it will tear our social fabric apart in ways we may never have imagined, by turning spectators into vicarious participants of a twisted new esport where we all end up being the victim.

7 comments about "The Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Massacre".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, April 29, 2019 at 10:45 a.m.

    Joe, I agree 100%. The problem is that too many people are concerned only about themselves not "we" the nation as a whole. Sadly, we are still living in "the age me"--something which started long ago, just after Nam. I don't see this changing so it will probably be up to the swarmy politicians ---once they discover that social media is being used against them---like by the Russians----and not because of the overriding need to curb these platforms,generally.

  2. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, April 29, 2019 at 10:46 a.m.

    Not all mass murder is high-tech. There are too many psychopaths out there to shut them all down. This Bath School bombing massacre in 1927 might still be the record, not sure.  https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/1927-bombing-remains-americas-deadliest-school-massacre-180963355/

  3. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, April 29, 2019 at 11:54 a.m.

    Nothing is free. Freedom is not free. Banning hate speech in any form needs to die as one of our costs of freedom. Or expect 1934 will be on your doorstep any minute.

  4. Dan Ciccone from STACKED Entertainment, April 29, 2019 at 12:38 p.m.

    This has to be the most irresponsible garbage editorial that I have read on MediaPost to date.  The clickbait title that literally offered a single sentence in Mr. Mandese's twisted logic trying to connect video games to real violence just perpetuates ignorance.

    Please provide one single instance where a video game inpsired an idealogical cult to incite mass murder.

    "For a generation raised on massive multiplayer shooter games, the combination of real-time social-sharing and toxic dehumanizing rhetoric is creating a new media form altogether."

    Utter garbage to bring video games into the mix in the context of mass shootings and violence inspired by idealogical radicals.

  5. Joe Mandese from MediaPost, April 29, 2019 at 12:57 p.m.

    @Dan Ciccone: Perhaps if you actually read the column (my personal commentary, not a MediPoMed editorial) you'd understand I wasn't talking about videogames, but a "new form of massive multi-spectator hate crime."

    Here is an explicit example of what I'm taking about:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/03/19/new-zealand-mosque-shooters-facebook-live-stream-was-viewed-thousands-times-before-being-removed/

  6. Dan Ciccone from STACKED Entertainment replied, April 29, 2019 at 1:01 p.m.

    Please do not patronize me.

    "For a generation raised on massive multiplayer shooter games, the combination of real-time social-sharing and toxic dehumanizing rhetoric is creating a new media form altogether."

    What did I misinterpret there, Joe?  You specifically stated that MMO video games have helped to create a new form of hate.  Please explain how.  Your title is specific to video games, yet you illustrate nowhere in your editorial video games outside of that one sentence.  Please enlighten us.

  7. Joe Mandese from MediaPost, April 29, 2019 at 1:42 p.m.

    @Dan Ciccone: Wow, sorry if that struck a nerve but I do recommend reading it all the way through to this  part where I explain that MMOG culture combined with the social sharing of dehumanizing rhetoric has created a new media form. Mainly, I was criticizing the role of social networks. But MMOG are a form of social networking, and I do believe they have pre-conditioned some people for this.

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