The internet and the Christchurch shooter.

Matthew Roehm, Graphics Editor

On March 15, at 1:40 p.m. shots were fired at a mosque in Christchurch New Zealand. 50 were wounded and 50 were injured, the shooter streamed the entire thing over Facebook Live. He also left behind a manifesto, it is filled with white nationalist rhetoric and various references to internet culture and memes. In fact, during the stream he was shouting out various popular memes. Now, memes in this context is not only humorous images on the internet but ideas that have been spread through a culture. It seems like the shooter didn’t view this as an act of violence, rather, simply a joke.

This whole situation is incredibly disturbing and seems to be a direct result of the internet. With the advent of the internet, everything has become lot quicker. This also means a breakdown of various cultural ideas once enjoyed in long form. Conversations become shortened to text messages, movies and TV shows become shortened to Youtube videos and ideas get shortened down into easily spreadable and shareable memes. Nobody has to articulate themselves anymore, just put a simple, half-baked idea into a meme and watch it spread like wildfire. No one has to even think for themselves anymore, let the meme culture tell you what is funny. Meme culture is downright inescapable and right wing extremists know this. They know meme culture and they know how to work an idea into the brain through memes. Above all, most mass shooters desire fame and attention, perhaps he’s using this stunt as a way to spread his ideas.

The memes did not influence him to commit that act, simple concepts alone cannot convince a someone to carry out a massacre, however the inclusion of them is definitely concerning to say the least. In circles where memes are shared, the shooter’s memes might find an audience that would accept them and share them around. That’s why it’s important not to share anything specific that he believed. Don’t give his memes the opportunity to spread around, although, it seems like that is already happening.