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Can the Internet Breed Killers?

Hugh Pickens writes (1984118) writes | more than 2 years ago

Crime 0

Hugh Pickens writes writes "Andrew Keen writes that Anders Behring Breivik may or may not be found to be clinically insane for his meticulously planned mass murder of 77 people in Oslo on July 22, 2011 but beneath or beside his madness, there's something about Breivik that captures the increasingly delusional, violent and narcissistic nature of our digital culture and although it would be crass to blame something as tragic as the mass murder on social media, it would be equally irresponsible to ignore any connection at all between Breivik's troubled personality and the broader culture forces in our electronically networked world. First, there's his self-evidently narcissistic personality which has enabled him to stand in an Oslo court this week and unselfconsciously boast about what he called "the most sophisticated and spectacular political attack in Europe since World War II." Narcissism, of course, wasn't invented by the Internet and it would be absurd to establish a causal connection between self-love and mass murder. However today's digital media culture — which shatters the 20th century mass audience into billions of 21st century authors and enables them all to broadcast their most intimate thoughts to the world — seems to be making narcissism the default mode of contemporary existence. Most troubling of all is Breivik's obsession with the multiplayer role-playing World of Warcraft, a violent online game that he played "full-time" between 2006 and 2007. Indeed, one of the few times that he smiled this week was when the image of his World of Warcraft character, Justicar Andersnordic, was displayed in court. "Breivik's obsession with violent online games, his narcissism, his reliance on Wikipedia and Facebook are warnings about how digital media can corrupt our grasp of reality," concludes Keen. "Breivik may be a worst case scenario, but I fear that there will be more young men like him in future if virtual reality becomes our only reality.""

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