Fresh Takes Opinion — 05 September 2014

It was a good week for creepy internet shut-ins or jihad-waging terrorists.

If you’re a decent person who believes in privacy and the value of human life — eh, not so much.

Over the past week, two separate groups of people (each at a varying degree of awfulness) placed material on the Internet meant to entice one into clicking by playing to humanity’s worst instincts.

Whether it’s leaked nude photos of female celebrities or the beheading of American journalists — these are materials your biggest curiosities want you look at.

But you shouldn’t. You really, really shouldn’t.

Whether you’re looking at either, you’re helping to kill more of the very heart and soul of humanity.

While that may sound dramatic, it’s not that far-fetched. The Internet, despite all the good it has done for people, has also functioned as a window into the dark heart of man. A window to the worst and most desperate parts of life.

We’re now in the age of increased occurrences of private material, data and information being stolen or monitored. Not just from celebrities but from average people, as well.

Not just from hackers but from our own government in the form of the NSA as well.

Our world begins to look more and more like 18th century philosopher Jeremy Bentham’s design for the Panopticon: A prison in which the inmates can be watched at all times but have no idea when or by who.

Except the prison guard is us. We’re the Big Brother of 1984. We watch each other and perpetuate systems of control against one another.

We prod into people’s private lives. We ridicule them at their most vulnerable though many among us are guilty of the similar actions.

I do not buy at all that celebrities are at fault because they took the pictures to begin with. That just sounds like victim blaming and that is never OK. People have a basic, fundamental right to do what they want in private as long as it does not harm anyone else.

Yet, there are forces in the world which mean to control us. What we do with our bodies. How we think. How we live our lives.

And the easiest way to control people is through fear.

Fear of being watched. Fear of being judged. Fear of being robbed of everything at a moments notice — your basic human decency stripped from you for another’s amusement.

Fear of death.

Which brings me to the beheadings of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff by terror group the Islamic State.

The definition of terrorism is to use violence and intimidation to achieve political goals.

The I.S. maintains its power by playing on your sympathies and morbid curiosities. By being the worst people imaginable and filming the whole thing; they’ve built themselves into the world’s biggest boogeyman by the images they’ve created in the world’s imagination.

The catch is this — you don’t have to look.

You have the ability to rob the wicked of their power by turning the other cheek.

Until a large enough group of people decide that enough is enough, this is the world we will live in — one run by creeps and murderers.

Time to change that.

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