Raoul Moat and the Facebook of Lulz

This is an pretty old post from my blog, which has been preserved in case its content is of any interest. You might want to go back to the homepage to see some more recent stuff.

For some unimaginable reason, two weeks and counting after the whole Raoul Moat business kicked off, it’s still plastered across the papers. Why? Because someone created a Facebook tribute page. Facebook refused to take it down. Then the owner removed it. Then someone made another one. Then the Prime Minister waded in. And one of Moat’s victims.

My question is, predictably: why the hell is all this Facebook stuff news?

There is one reason and one reason only why these Facebook tribute groups exist: for the lulz.

Have the Prime Minister and the tabloid press not managed to grasp that there’s not really some sinister or deranged bunch of people behind this? People join these groups for the lulz; because it’s funny. Do politicians really live in such a sheltered world that they’ve never seen what’s out there on the internet?

The internet is context-free interaction, a world where you can’t see your friends’ reactions or even know if they’ve seen a notification of you joining a group. It’s a single click to join, whether you’re doing it because you believe in the cause or whether you just found it funny. It’s a world where people try to take down religions just because the idea amuses them. It’s a world where nobody really cares; where “Serious Business” is only ever used sarcastically.

Government, media – getting offended by Raoul Moat’s Facebook fan club just makes you look ridiculous. It’s not just the internet you seem not to understand, it’s a whole aspect of human nature that comes to the fore in that kind of environment. Hell knows, if Cameron hit the roof about a Raoul Moat tribute group, what the hell is he going to do when he finds /b/? They’ll be scraping him off the walls!

I have no massive expectation of the most powerful to govern in a way which everyone would recognise as fair and just. But at the very least, can we not expect those in power to understand the people they represent?

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