There are times when humanity seems like a far away thing. The point that we all are human beings, appertaining to the same category of species looks like an illusion. And it never crosses our mind that there are other species, besides us, beyond me, sharing this planet. It is an everyday fact, still, seems like a counter-intuitive thought. Our holy network of the ecosystem is ruining day by day but we don’t care. It doesn’t matter if the insects are going extinct. We don’t care what will be the future of this planet, the future of this humanity and this green graceful nature.
It doesn’t matter as long as there is ME.
Maybe, we are too selfish. Ahimè, this growth! Why are we evolved to the point? How do we reach here? This place where anything beyond ourselves doesn’t matter. Caring for other kinds is a distant consideration but we don’t even care for our fellows. We become the prey of our feelings, irrational feelings, emotions, instincts. Killing and ruin others for power, jealousy, love, obsession, madness, and fun. We are too self-absorbed. Too damned. Such a feeling of distinction, almost irrational, extreme. It seems like that connection to the self is lost. Irretrievably lost in the midst of superficiality.
But, craving for that lost link is immense. I can smell that peace I once felt. That satisfaction, that completeness. This memory is sweet. And powerful. A source to keep me alive.
Gives me strength and hope that someday, maybe someday, I can feel that again.
Freiherr von Munchhausen was a famous story.-teller who used to entertain the guests with the tales of his adventures during the Russo-Turkish war. This fictional character recounted impossible achievements which include pulling himself out of the bog with his own hair and traveling to the moon.
This literary model bestowed his name to one of the life-threatening factitious disorder known as ‘Munchausen’s Syndrome.’ Characterized by the invention and fabrication of syndromes, it is a psychiatric disease in which a patient presents himself to seek attention or sympathy for their exaggerated or made up symptoms. The motivation is to acquire a ‘sick role’. These symptoms are faked but even induced sometimes by injecting harmful bacteria, infected materials, detergents or through tourniquets.
Being sick had become a way of life and I was unable to stop. The rewards were just too great.
Her self-inflicted damage brought severe consequences: she had to remove her bladder and she went to ICU due to a septic shock.
‘For the first time, I found myself really scared that I might die’.
She had been fortunate as she realized the dangerous path she has been leading and vowed, then, to start her life again. Psychotherapy helped her to recover further and she went anew for a healthy and better life.
However, there exists another mental illness in which the deception doesn’t involve themselves but someone under the person’s care. This is known as Factitious Disorder Imposed On Another or Munchausen syndrome by proxy. In this case, an individual can deliberately make a second person ill without his or her knowledge to have that special attention reserved for the ill and their families.
This is often done to someone who they are in charge of, as an elderly family member or child. In the recorded cases, the parents that frequently fake Munchausen by proxy are mothers.
Most known cases of FDIA:
The story of Marybeth Tinningand her nine dead children. Between 1967 and 1985, eight of her children died under suspicious circumstances. The rumors circulated that Tinning family suffered from ‘death gene’ as each child died within months.
Finally, she was convicted and sentenced to 20 years of life. Last year she was released from the prison after serving more than 31 years of her 20-years-to-life sentence.
Another recent case is of the blogger Lacey Spears who was convicted of the murder of her 5-year-old Garett Spears. Lacey documented the health struggles of her son in the blog garnettsjourey.blogspot.com. Garnett suffered from severe ear infections, high fevers, seizures, and digestion problems induced by her mother who was blogging, at the same time, about his hospital trips. She was found guilty on account of murdering her son ‘by poisoning him with table salt, which she had administrated to him from infancy through his feeding tube.’ Social media seemed to become a place of attention and sympathy for her.
In another heartbreaking case, 40-year-old Kathy Bushy intentionally sickened her child and made her go through 40 pointless surgeries.
Marc Feldman explained another case of Mrs. A who joined an online community where she claimed to have five children and one of these children, she said, suffers from gastroesophageal reflux and celiac disease. As came out, this whole thing was a ruse and Mrs. A. was actually a 21-year old woman with no children whatsoever.
This can be defined as Munchausen by Internet aspeople join the support groups and make up a story to get sympathy. It is becoming more common because of easy online access. People don’t have to go from one emergency room to another to convince about their illness; they can fabricate anything behind the screens.
However, the most famous case of Munchausen by proxy is of Dee Dee Blanchardwho eventually ended up brutally stabbed by her own daughter. She made everybody believe that her daughter, Gypsy Rose suffered from leukemia, asthma and muscular dystrophy. Dee Dee made her daughter pass as disabled and chronically ill with a mental capacity of 7-years-old. She made her went through unnecessary surgeries, medications, and occasionally psychological and physical abuse. Fed up with the abuse, Gypsy and her new boyfriend murdered Dee Dee.
It was not because I hated her. It was because I wanted to escape her- Gypsy Blanchard
Explaining the extreme behavior of these mothers, Marc Feldman, professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Alabama said,
These mothers tend to be psychopathic. They don’t experience guilt and they lack empathy.
He, further, noted that the number of people who fake diseases in the hospitals is usually higher than estimated but the doctors often do not realize that they are being deceived or they, simply, do not confront the patient fearing the consequences or being insensitive or bad-mouthed.
However, detection and treatment for this disorder are vital. The treatment is often complex and includes long term psychological recovery. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can help to change the thinking and behavior of that individual.
They believe that having an illness will make them feel special. Patients who are diagnosed with the syndrome are almost always found to be struggling with something — perhaps depression or a traumatic childhood. They need help. But for whatever reason, they cannot admit this to others and so they use illness as an excuse to reach out for emotional support- Gregor P. Yates
Dreary nights with a longing
to meet him
the smile was exquisite and
when he asked if I’m the one to come from
the heavenly sky
I said yes
with a blissful smile
and a throbbing heart
the desire to meet you
it was a nightmare
those long days
that’s why I came here
crossing the five seas
to see you with these blessed eyes
that have been crying for you
to recreate that moment
that delightful scene
that coincided us
five eternities ago
O my dear I came here
only for you
only for you
Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, the celebrity serial killers, murdered five children around Manchester in the 1960s. They have been defined by their trial judge as ‘ two sadistic killers of the utmost depravity’. Their crimes that we are to see here are those of the sadistic psychopaths.
Myra Hindley met Brady on her first day of work as a typist and she said that she fell in “love at first sight”. His lover, fascinated with the Nazis and World War II, introduced her to Hitler’s marching songs, Mein Kampf, Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment. Brady used to read Marquis de Sade (1740 -1814) who was a French erotic writer and prose stylist, from whose name the words “sadism” and “sadist” are derived. They, later, went on to seek “supreme pleasure” and with this started a journey to commit a ‘perfect murder’.
Their first victim was a 16-year-old Pauline Reade who was murdered on her way to dance. She was lured into a minivan by Myra and after some time she asked Pauline’s to help her look for a lost glove. Brady pounced upon Pauline and raped her, smashed her skull and slashed her throat so violently that she was almost decapitated. Their next victim was a 12-year-old John Kilbridethat have been strangled and raped before being buried in a shallow grave. The couple went on and enticed 12-year-old Keath Bennett from a street on the context of driving him home. He had been sexually assaulted before getting strangled with a piece of string. His body, unfortunately, has never been found.
Their youngest victim Lesley Ann Downey met the same brutal fate.
They even recorded Lesley Ann Downey begging for life. The 16-minute recording was played in a silent courtroom in which the girl pleaded “don’t undress me” and “ I want to see mummy”. This ten-year-old girl had been raped and killed and buried naked with her clothes at her feet.
Fifth and their final victim was 17 years old Edward Evans who was brought at home where their brother in law David was visiting them. They smashed Edward’s head with an ax and took him to upstairs. David fled and contacted the police.
[Brady] opened the door and he said in a very loud voice for him …”Do you want those miniatures?” I nodded my head to say yes and he led me into the kitchen … and he gave me three miniature bottles of spirits and said: “Do you want the rest?” When I first walked into the house, the door to the living room … was closed. … Ian went into the living room and I waited in the kitchen. I waited about a minute or two then suddenly I heard a hell of a scream; it sounded like a woman, really high-pitched. Then the screams carried on, one after another really loud. Then I heard Myra shout, “Dave, help him,” very loud. When I ran in I just stood inside the living room and I saw a young lad. He was lying with his head and shoulders on the couch and his legs were on the floor. He was facing upwards. Ian was standing over him, facing him, with his legs on either side of the young lad’s legs. The lad was still screaming … Ian had a hatchet in his hand … he was holding it above his head and he hit the lad on the left side of his head with the hatchet. I heard the blow, it was a terrible hard blow, it sounded horrible.
When the moors trial ended we did feel a
lack of catharsis: something violent should have happened to put an end to violence. Throughout, we were missing the shadow of the rope. The end was, in fact, unaesthetic.
After the arrest, the couple said nothing. The judge marked Brady as ‘hopelessly evil’. He, somehow, accepted his sentence and withdraw into social isolation. He wanted to starve himself to death and protested when the authorities force fed him. Still, he considered himself to be a comparatively ‘petty criminal’ alongside ‘global serial killers and thieves like Blair or Bush’.
Indeed, the pivotal evidence in her conviction
did not just revolve around David Smith‘s eye
-witness testimony concerning the death of Edward Evans and it was the discovery of a suitcase in a locker at Manchester train station that would seemingly categorically confirm
Hindley‘s complicity in the crimes:―
Among the contents of the brown suitcase were five photographs of a child in the nude. [Superintendent Robert Alexander] also found two recording tapes. On two tracks, when played, he found voices of a man, woman, and a child. The recordings on the tracks were identical. At the end of each tape was a recording of music.
His lover is often described as pure evil, a predator of children, a sex offender. ‘The archetype of a stranger danger’, and apparently the grand master of all the uncertainty and fear that this provoked, she became, as she herself recognized, ―the symbol of the nation‘s revulsion at all those who prey on innocent children (The Guardian).
Yet Myra Hindley, who died in prison in 2002, had always maintained that Brady — who died in a mental health hospital on Monday — manipulated her to murder their five child victim. Ian on the other hand sustained,
I was never conscious of having to exert myself to coerce her into accepting my belief in relativist morality. Bit by bit we were moving towards an almost telepathic relationship. She was as ruthless as I was.
Hindley established herself as an icon of evil. She was a deviant and evil personified. An example that ‘she’ can be brutal too. A cruel woman that can do the unimaginable leaving behind her role of nurturing sex. Even the trial judge suggested, ‘Tough I believe that Brady is wicked upon belief without hope of redemption, I cannot feel the same is necessarily true of Hindley once she is removed from his influence.’
Contrary to Brady who drove to madness as he approached the end, Myra remained persistent in seeking parole until her death and even plotted to escape with a prison warder.
A smile, a blessing. There have been days when the leaves flicker under sunshine bringing new hope and joy. I have been called upon to watch them, listen to them and pay attention to them. Make their presence worthy in this world. They seem to bless the earth but they go unnoticed widely. We, fool human beings, take the beauty for granted. Their loveliness, their color, their presence is divine.
Then there comes a gloom in some dry cold country. A lonely place. An abandoned countryside. Old people are roaming there, still, hoping and clinging to their motherland. The country is known for its art. Art made ages ago. A remembrance of the past. Past full of crusades, wars, and famine. Yet, people are proud. Because they are ignorant. Birds shriek in dryness. The dryness that conquers the air. It is heavy and the sound is gloomy. The day settles at 15 and the darkness evades the entire village. Sun disappears behind the mountain and those bare valleys let it sunk deep within them. Swallowing it like a demon of darkness evades the light. People hide in their hood shutting themselves. Blinds fell and the artificial lights illuminate.
Then the memory works, fabrication initiates. His smile came back and his memory conquers the mind. That was a beautiful day. A heavenly presence was blessing me. Blessed me for a single day and left me behind as a cursed demon forced to live without his presence. May he be happy. May he reaches heights.
Formerly, when religion was strong and science weak, men mistook magic for medicine; now, when science is strong and religion weak, men mistake medicine for magic — Thomas Szasz
History is full of bizarre events filled with wild beliefs and strange practices. Science hasn’t remained immune when it comes to getting influenced by the socio-cultural views of the time. But being wrong is a part of science, right?!
Let’s dig into some examples narrowing down to the lane of the medical field. One of the commonly known ones is classifying homosexuality as a mental illness. Then, people were pathologized because they failed to comply with the authority. Let’s not forget that political disobedience would have been enough to send someone to an asylum. Women had been diagnosed as hysterical for having sexual urges.
Lobotomy, a wise method invented by professionals to treat schizophrenia, depression, and backaches. Sadly, this procedure created memory loss, more mood problems and once even lead to death due to the brain hemorrhage.
Now I guess I’ll have to tell ‘em
That I got no cerebellum
— The Ramones, “Teenage Lobotomy”
Dysaesthesia aethiopica, an example of scientific racism that explained the laziness among slaves. This is how it’s founder explains it- “much more prevalent among free negroes living in clusters by themselves, than among slaves on our plantations, and attacks only such slaves as live like free negroes in regard to diet, drinks, exercise, etc.” — indeed, according to Samuel A. Cartwright, “nearly all [free negroes] are more or less afflicted with it, that have not got some white person to direct and to take care of them.”
Let’s listen to his cure: The best means to stimulate the skin is, first, to have the patient well washed with warm water and soap; then, to anoint it all over in oil, and to slap the oil in with a broad leather strap; then to put the patient to some hard kind of work in the sunshine.
Alas, he didn’t think that sickness might exist in the way that the structure of society than in the head of poor slaves.
Fortunately, most of these ridiculous practices have been recognized as pseudoscience. This happened not necessarily due to any scientific evidence. Biology played little to no role whatsoever. Like in the case of homosexuality, it was declassified in 1973 due to the pressure from activists.
Still, we are becoming ‘sicker’ and there are few and few people left who aren’t having any disorder. Those thoughts and feelings that were considered normal previously are deserving a diagnosis now. Normal behavior is being diagnosed as a mental disorder.
DSM, the bible of psychiatry has listed over 300 disorders and some of these can be very misleading. Oppositional defiant disorder, as it is the one who argues with the authoritative figures and denies or refuses to comply. Bingeing, eating a large quantity of food in a short time is also considered an illness now. Disruptive mood dysregulation, a disorder that turns temper tantrums into mental illness. The periods of sadness, or worry, grief, drinking too much caffeine or having caffeine withdrawal are pathologized today. These normal trials of life have been accepted as illnesses and are being propagated by ‘experts’.
The writing is on the wall. ‘Normal’ badly needs saving; sick people desperately require treatment. But DSM-5 seems to be moving in just the wrong direction, adding new diagnoses that would turn everyday anxiety, eccentricity, forgetting, and bad eating habits into mental disorders. Meanwhile, the truly ill would be even more ignored as psychiatry expanded its boundaries to include many who are better considered normal- Allen
When it comes to diagnosing mental illnesses, there are no medical tests, no scans, no bloodwork, no physiological tissue damage that can diagnose anybody with a mental disorder. Summing up, there is no laboratory measure. So, DSM plays a huge role as the most commonly used manual by clinicians to diagnose any illness. Recently there have been many protests against psychiatry and against its bible. Many of the diagnoses included can label normal people and encourage inappropriate medication use. This brings a rise in the prescription of stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin.
Millions of Americans are being labeled as mentally ill. Prescriptions for antidepressants have tripled in America in the last decade while prescriptions for scientific drugs used to treat anxiety, bi-polar, ADHD, and a myriad of other psychiatric illnesses in infants, children, and adults are increasing exponentially across America. (Blummer and Marcus, 2009). To combat these diseases, daily doses of dangerous and addictive psychiatric drugs are being prescribed. Follow up study on people who take stimulants show the shrinkage in their brain, addiction to the tranquilizers and shortening of the lifespan in case of sedatives. People who have prescribed the sedatives for the life-long period are predicted to have their life cut short up to 20 years.
‘ The scientific literature shows that many patients treated for a milder problem will worsen in response to a drug- say have a manic episode after taking an antidepressant — and that can lead to a new and more severe diagnosis like bipolar disorder.’ Robert Whitaker
Labeling people or stigmatizing the human experience as mentally ill can’t bring some hope. Having problems in life is normal but one shouldn’t label it or try to earn from it. But the reports are indicating the opposite. The pharmaceutical industry is profiting from mental healthcare and even distorting psychiatry practice. One of the pitfalls of science that shows the desperate need to fill in.
It has nothing to do with biology. It has to do with power and control and what we think is appropriate or not appropriate behavior- Toby Watson
I hack, I ruin, I make piles of money — Andrew Auernheimer aka Weev
With a rise in technology, sophisticated cyber attacks won’t lag behind. And neither would troll. One of well known is LulzSec, short for laughs and security. They have close ties with Anonymous but as like Anonymous, they are not in hacking for political reason but simply for the laughs. Laughs at the inadequate security.
For the past 50 days (50 days of Lulz), we have been disrupting and exposing corporations, governments and the general population itself and quite possibly everything in between. Just because we could; all to selflessly entertain others.
They did an eight-month-long campaign in 2011: began by targeting Fox.com, hacked US broadcaster PBS and planted a fake story saying that Tupac and Biggie Smalls are in fact alive and live in New Zealand. In another attack, they stole personal information of about more than 24.6 million Sony users forcing them to take down their website for several days. Hacking the Infragardpages, they posted:
It has come to our unfortunate attention that NATO and our good friend Barrack Osama-Llama 24th-century Obama [sic] have recently upped the stakes with regard to hacking. They now treat hacking as an act of war. So, we just hacked an FBI affiliated website (Infragard, specifically the Atlanta chapter) and leaked its user base. We also took complete control over the site and defaced it.
After some time, the launched an operation with Anonymous AntiSec to launch attacks on numerous government websites or agencies (Govt. of Brazil, Arizona Department of Public Safety,Petrobras). But soon, Lulzsec retired and in their last post shared: Our crew of six wishes you a happy 2011, and a shout out to all our battlefield members and supporters across the globe.
Less than a month later, the group reconvened and announced that it was behind more hacks like the attacks on the British newspaper The Sun and The Times, posting about the death of the publication’s owner Rupert Murdoch.
Soon, they found themselves followed by law enforcement authorities as well other hackers. From June 2011, LulzSec members began to be suspected by both the US and UK police and arrests were made— Ryan Cleary, Jake Davis, Mustafa al-Bassam and Ryan Ackroyd. Despite this, there were statements after the arrests suggesting that LulzSec is not a mere group of people but more like an idea that is hard to eradicate.
It’s ridiculous to believe that by arresting members of LulzSec, you have stopped us. You haven’t stopped us. You have merely disrupted the active faction- Anonymous
Let’s take a quick turn to another troll — Andrew Auernheimer aka Weev, who is well-known for his dedicated trolls, advocating genocide of non-whites and usual messing with large corporations. He was a leader of the Goatse security, a grey hat group that uncovers security holes for ‘the benefit of the public at large’. He took the disruptions by LulzSec and Anonymous to another level starting something broad against authority. Although he disagrees with LulzSec by saying, ‘ They’re publishing people’s authentication data, which puts the average member of the public at risk.’ and further stating that, ‘ I would never do that. They are the people we have to defend.’
He believes that we need to toughen up as we are too pampered and that’s one of the reason that ‘the western society is sick; diseased’. When in an interview he was questioned about his tweet – You’re fat and your kid has autism, he started, ‘ I believe that tweet is pretty fair. I believe that person is fat and that child did have autism…
I think the problem with our society is that everybody is so politically incorrect because they have grown up in a bubble- official price, rounded corners, and bright colors. We are costume animals telling nobody anything that might hurt their feelings. Kids these days, they should be out welding, they should work with caustic chemicals, you know control demolition, like learn to be real people living in a real world and not these insulated morons who can’t ever hear anything that might hurt their feelings.
Get over it, grow up, and learn to deal with people on the internet not liking you. And if you don’t like it, shut down your FB page, make your Twitter private, don’t engage in a public discussion and you’ll never run into a conversation where I can say something that can hurt your feelings.’
“I unequivocally support the killing of children. I believe that our enemies need such a level of atrocity inflicted upon them and their homes that they are afraid to ever threaten the white race with genocide again. We will not relent until far after their daughters are raped in front of them. We will not relent until far after the eyes of their sons are gouged out before them. We will not relent until the cries of their infants are silenced by boots stomping their brains out onto the pavement.”
“Please, Donald Trump, kill the Jews, down to the last woman and child. Leave nothing left of the Jewish menace. It is all on you, my glorious leader.”
— “Kikes Tried to Frame Me for Synagogue Threats a Second Time,” Daily Stormer, March 2017.
— From a flyer Auernheimer sent to 50,000 computer printers across the country, August 2016.
Even though his mother said that Weev comes from a large-mixed raced family with Jewish relatives on “both sides of his family,” as well as Native American blood. After serving his sentence, he is reported to move to eastern Europe as the Department of Justice is still looking for him. He said that he misses America every day and is living a sort of miserable and despairing life in Transnistria. Still, he consistently uses the Internet to troll and shares his sort racist beliefs.
Luke Goode, researcher, and writer about new media technologies summed up this phenomenon:
It is also a symptom of our hyper-individualistic culture. Schools, the media and the self-help industry devote tremendous energy to telling people they are extraordinary individuals whose calling is to make their unique mark on the world. When the rest of humdrum social reality reneges on this promise, internet trolling offers a temptingly simple, though illusory, escape from feelings of powerlessness, insignificance, and boredom.
As the phrase that I had coined goes: If I cannot join them, I will rise above them; and if I cannot rise above them, I will destroy them- Elliot Rodger, the perpetrator of the 2014 Isla Vista Massacre.
There is loneliness. A yearning to find someone. Fulfilling the basic need for love. But when the desires never actualize in reality. When the immense craving stays within and suffocates one to the core. The frustration and doubt ensue. Hatred and a contempt for the society arise. And when they further get a platform to connect and express anger things can really take an ugly turn.
In 1997, Alana wanted to create a supportive forum for lonely people. People who struggle to find love. A friendly place for people like her. So she created a simple website to post some articles and ran a mailing list. This site came to be known as ‘Incel’, an abbreviation for ‘involuntary celibate’. After setting up the forum, she eventually moved away from it, satisfied and thinking that it can continue without her.
Things changed and so did the meaning of the term and the content of this innocuous website. Discussions were characterized by hatred, violence, racism, and misogyny. Incels believe that social norms are destroying them. This online community of celibate men convinces themselves to be ugly and socially awkward. And they believe that this is the reason they are unable to find any potential partner. Misogynists blame the women and conclude that they are the victims. There were discussions about raping and torturing women and this kind of content was accepted, to say the least. Evidently, a toxic place to frequent.
A lot of these guys are pretty young, and I think some of it stems from standard adolescent insecurities and sexual frustration and anger at being rejected by girls- David Futrelle
Incel received a momentum in 2014 when Elliot Rodger, a 22-year-old man killed six people and then himself in California. He had a narcissistic personality and even wrote a 137-page manifesto filled with his grandiose fantasies and delusions. As Berit Brogaard, a professor of philosophy noticed, Roger was preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty or ideal love. He was obsessed with finding ‘love’.
In his last video, Elliot expressed,
You will finally see that I’m in truth the superior one- the true alpha male…
From now, I’ll be the god compared to you. You are animals and I’ll slaughter you. I’ll be a god exacting my retribution for all those who deserve it. And you do deserve it, just for the crime of living a better life than me.
Then on April 23 of this year, Alek Minassian posted on Facebook — the Incel Rebellion has already begun! We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys! All hail the supreme gentleman Elliot Rodger.
Alek then got a rented van and targeted pedestrians on the North York City Centre – killing 10 and injuring 16. Another similar case is of Chris Harper-Mercer who killed nine people in a community college in 2015. He stated, ‘Here I am, 26, with no friends, no job, no girlfriend’.
There is a new crisis in masculinity, or that we need to take a special focus on redeeming our Millenial ‘lost boys’- the losers of a changing social hierarchy who posted once on 4chan as teenagers and turned into a neo-Nazis as adults. It is more worthwhile to think about this as a problem of nihilism (Drew Brown)
Incels brood hate for society and for themselves too. They blame others for their defeat and the feeling of unworthiness. As the relationships expert Hunt Ethridge notice, “The fox couldn’t reach the grapes, so he convinced himself the grapes were sour and he didn’t want them anyway.” Their despair and belief that women have some functions on a superficial level only dehumanize the perspective of the opposite gender. And when they find these online corners to connect and share their ideologies with no external perspective, ‘the validation can fuel aggression’.
When they allow all these isolated and alienated people to unite and for once feel a sense of connectivity, acceptance, and understanding to share their sense of shame and self-condemnation. But it also allows for a perfect storm of not only self-hatred but vitriol, rage, and a desire to inflict harm on others whereby victims can also experience first-hand the grief and suffering which Incels feel they’ve had to endure for a lifetime.”-Sam Louie, Psychology Today
Alana was sad and angry when she learned what her innocent creation ended up being. She, then, created a project named Love not Anger to research how these lonely people might find respectful love and leave behind their state of anger and hopelessness. This is an important step towards awareness and recognition of the problem. The alienation from society and a subsequent loss of reality can pose a real threat. There is a need to stand in, challenge and dismantle the toxic ideologies through the practical actions. Gathering support and extending a helping hand to get out of the toxic environment before the things take an ugly turn. Change in mentality can change the lives.
The greatest generation of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind- William James
“Think deeply about things. Don’t just go along because that’s the way things are or that’s what your friends say. Consider the effects, consider the alternatives, but most importantly, just think.”
Aaron Swartz, an internet legend, it’s own boy — a tech genius. Dropped out of school at the age of 14, he earned an early success as a programmer. He developed Reddit at the age of nineteen and took a turn toward political activism devoting his short life to the idea of free internet.
He was against the corporate influence. He believed that ideas should be freely available on the Internet favoring the free access of all sources. Academic publications are bound within the notions of copyright. Information published in the scientific and cultural field are digitized and monopolized by few private corporations. These large corporations, he wrote, are ‘blinded by the greed’ and the restricted access is a ‘private theft of public culture’.
Scholarly researched literature which is funded by taxpayers is available to only some well-known universities in the developed world. The general public would have to pay a subscription fee to go through an article. In 2013, Aaron was a research fellow at the Harvard University which provided him an access to the JSTOR account. JSTOR is a digital library that contains full-text research of almost 2,000 journals on various disciplines. He downloaded a close to two-thirds of the JSTORE archive through the MIT computer network (which can be equivalent to the subscription fee of fifty thousand dollars). This lead to his capture and an eventual trial. Federal prosecutors charged him with a ridiculous 35 years sentence in prison and a cumulative maximum penalty of $1 million in fine. However, the plea bargain was offered which Swartz and his attorney denied in the end.
Stealing is stealing whether you use a computer command or a crowbar and whether you take documents, data or dollars- Carmen M. Ortez, U.S. Attorney & Prosecutor of Aaron Swartz
On 11th January, two days later, Swartz hanged himself with his belt in a New-York apartment leaving no suicide note behind. Contrary to the idea that he was depressed, his family members and near ones claimed that he has been indirectly killed by the government. His girlfriend Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman wrote,
“I believe that Aaron’s death was not caused by depression…I say this because, since his suicide, as I’ve tried to grapple with what happened, I’ve been learning. I’ve researched clinical depression and associated disorders. I’ve read their symptoms, and at least until the last 24 hours of his life, Aaron didn’t fit them.
…I believe Aaron’s death was caused by exhaustion, by fear, and by uncertainty. I believe that Aaron’s death was caused by a persecution and a prosecution that had already wound on for 2 years (what happened to our right to a speedy trial?) and had already drained all of his financial resources. I believe that Aaron’s death was caused by a criminal justice system that prioritizes power over mercy, vengeance over justice; a system that punishes innocent people for trying to prove their innocence instead of accepting plea deals that mark them as criminals in perpetuity; a system where incentives and power structures align for prosecutors to destroy the life of an innovator like Aaron in the pursuit of their own ambitions.”
Aaron Swartz was a significant part of the free culture movement. He was fighting furiously to make the information accessible to everyone. Restriction over valuable research in developing countries seemed intolerable to him, “Providing scientific articles to those at elite universities in the First World, but not to children in the Global South? It’s outrageous and unacceptable.”
This meant that researchers and doctors treating patients with cancer or other diseases in remote regions of Africa could not access complete articles that describe the latest results in the treatments even if the research is done locally.
And if you decide to pay, you won’t know the article is relevant as the abstracts don’t always make it clear enough what is contained there. And restricted access journals are also prone to spurious results. You might cover the costs to read a peer-reviewed journal but receive some junk crafted by long technical phrases. Predatory and ‘unacademic’ articles are, overall, building a real obstacle in scientific development. For instance, an analysis done by Gopalkrishan Seethapathy and colleagues from the University of Oslo judged 350 journals (published in the year 2015–2016 alone) as predatory. In brief, prestigious and restricted sites aren’t completely flaw-free.
Coming back to Free-culture movement, it doesn’t concern academic publication exclusively but targets the restriction over music, art, and software industry also. Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation shared his opinion by stating,
Works of practical use should be free. Works regarding points of view should be shareable but not changeable and works of art or entertainment should be copyrighted.
Maybe we do need a free access to research done by our predecessors in order to appease our curiosity and as an initial point for our own discovery. Just like they used the knowledge and discoveries of others to build themselves up. Openness helps in the discovery.