It’s the return of Kpopalypse fanfiction! Please enjoy the following story!
You’re a 13-year old female k-pop fan living in Seoul who really loves [k-pop group x] and you also strongly believe in [social issue y]. Life is basically good, or at least as good as it gets for a young person with no freedom. Your belief in [social issue y] helps you put life into perspective and gives you something to care about, and your love of [k-pop group x] gets you through the hard, boring times of school days, dull repetitive homework, and doing what your parents tell you to do. You’re bright, but not a great achiever at school, however nor are you a failure. Your report cards consistently come back with the comment that you are very smart and have a lot of unrealised potential, but that you lack effort – but that you could be great if you really tried. You don’t really care to do more than coast along at school however (unless it’s a rare subject you enjoy) – as you grind away at classes, instead of work you think about the weekends – sports, playing computer games, and listening to [k-pop group x] at loud parent-masking volume. Somewhere in the back of your mind, you dream of better days with more independence, and the freedom of adulthood, going to see [k-pop group x] in the flesh and maybe one day even making a difference regarding [social issue y].
Not everybody you know likes [k-pop group x] or [social issue y], and sometimes you have debates in the schoolyard about it. There’s one annoying fuck in your class who always gets on your case about it. One day you’re sitting in class, waiting for the teacher who is running late.
“HEY!” shouts the annoying fucking fuckface from the desk behind you.
“What?” you reply, turning around in your school chair, unwittingly sowing the seed of a lower back problem that will probably make the last 20 years of your life a living hell.
“[k-pop group x] FUCKING SUCKS, YOU [word that mocks social issue y]!” smirks your “friend”, the amazing fucking fuck from hell, as he throws a pencil eraser at your head.
“Hey, I don’t care – you don’t have to like it. You can’t talk anyway, you like [k-pop group z], they’re a bunch of morons.” The eraser bounces off your head and lands on the floor. You swiftly pick it up – Fuckbrain is not getting it back without a fight.
“They ARE NOT!” complains the basic fucknugget.
You smile. Mr. Fuck has taken the bait. “Sure they are. They’re stupid just like you. I bet they don’t even know about [social issue y].”
“[social issue y] is for [word that mocks social issue y]!” he screams at you.
“Is it? Debate me, right now – let’s go.”
The fuckstain barely even properly understands what [social issue y] is, because he really is that fucking dumb, so he shuts up. Victory. No need to hold a grudge – you hand the eraser back to him, making the point to do so ever-so-politely. He has just enough time to snatch the eraser out of your hand and mutter something in response about you being a faggot before the teacher finally arrives.
Although you hate this turdmuching fuckbreath “friend” with a deep passion, you still have to see him every day in class, and sometimes you even get along just fine. He’s really not so bad when he’s not being a complete piece of shit so rancid that a sentient toilet brush wouldn’t even be willing to voluntarily poke him around an S-bend. It’s rare that he resembles a normal human, but he has his moments. It’s obviously in your best interests that you don’t argue and hate each other ALL the time, just because it’s hard to get work done when you’re always fighting and although you don’t really give a fuck about most of your classes, you do still want to at least scrape a pass. Repeating a grade would be truly devastating – an extra year of this bullshit? No thanks!
One day, after dinner, your parents both enter your bedroom, with that “serious talk time” look in their eyes. Uh oh.
“It’s time we had a talk.” says your father.
“You know what this is about”, says your mother.
You sigh. “Is this about sex? I already know what goes where, I knew most of that when I was about seven.”
Your parents look at each other, speechless.
You continue, undeterred. “Hey, in the schoolyard it’s pretty much all anyone ever fucking talks about, it’s impossible not to know about these things. This is 2016, not 1816, not that it would have been any different back then I suspect. But anyway – I already know that the pee-pee goes in the vajayjay, so is that it, can this be over now?”
Your parents both groan at your cynicism. “We actually wanted to talk to you about social networking”, says your mother.
“We think that at 13 years old, you’re old enough to have your own social networking account”.
“Oh…” – this has gotten you by surprise. “Okay, well… er… that’d be cool!”
Your parents both smile. “Great!” says your dad. “When you’re ready we’ll help you set up your account.”
“Don’t worry, I don’t need any help. I go on my friends’ accounts all the time, I know how it works. Watch out for strangers with modelesque profile pictures, no you don’t have a relative who died in a plane crash in the mountains near Nigeria, that sort of thing. The Internet is safe in my hands!”
Your parents both roll their eyes and look at each other blankly. “Just make sure you block the trolls, dear”, your mum reminds you.
A week later and your first foray into social networking is going well. You’ve added all your friends from school, and also some friends-of-friends who you don’t know but you hope to get to know at some point. A lot of them post a lot of silly things but you don’t read the main feed much, you’ve been too busy customising everything and making your new corner of cyberspace look exactly how you want it. You’ve got a cool looking profile pic of yourself (which doesn’t really look like you but whatev) and lots of detail in your bio about all your interests and the things you like – of course [k-pop group x] and [social issue y] top the list. It’s fun filling out stuff about yourself, maybe people will see your information and they’ll like some of the things that you like! Having your own little cyberhaven gives you a pleasing (if mild – after all it’s only a web page) sense of power and control which is new in your life.
After an hour of messing around with layouts you take a break and watch the most recent YouTube video by [k-pop group x]. You decide to go and look at the YouTube comments, when all of a sudden, you notice something appear:
How can anyone possibly dislike [k-pop group x], your favourite group in the entire world ever? Why would anyone even leave a comment like that? It is not acceptable, it makes you so mad! You quickly go onto your new social networking account to complain to all your friends.
Normally I don’t like to rant but I’m sick of these HATERS who hate my favourite group, [k-pop group x]. My parents told me that I shouldn’t bother with trolls, so anyone who just wants to post hate about my faves, I’m going to delete and block them! You haters disgust me, you need something better to do with your life! I love [k-pop group x] and I don’t care what you say! I only want nice comments and a world without haters!
Most of the responses you get are supportive, but a couple statements are not.
You stupid [word that mocks social issue y]! You can’t expect everyone in the world to like [k-pop group x]!
I heard that [k-pop group x] are mean bullies and they have a bad attitude!
What haters, ugh! You just wanted to express your love for [k-pop group x], why is this person butting in with their unwelcome opinion? Why would they even comment if they didn’t like the group? One of your friends comes in to bat for you:
You shouldn’t use words like [word that mocks social issue y], it’s not fair for people experiencing [social issue y]. Why even comment anyway if you hate the group. You’re obviously just a troll, go away.
That’s right – trolls! Your parents warned you about these people! You make sure to delete and block these people immediately, just like your mum taught you, but first you leave one last comment.
They are not bullies! [k-pop group x] are nice! I hate all of you haters! You should just go and die! This is my space, not yours! I will block you forever!
A wave of relief washes over you as you delete the hating people using bad language in contravention of [social issue y] and not respecting [k-pop group x] – it’s YOUR social networking account, damnit – your favourite group is protected here! You watch as a few people on your SNS page who like [social issue y] spread your statement. You smile. Maybe in some small way, you’re making a difference to the world.
A few days later, you’re at school, on lunch break. You’re sitting at a bench on the playground eating the sandwiches your parents packed for you, when your “friend” the fuckwad sits next to you.
“Don’t sit next to me, creep”, you sneer at him.
“Hey, I haven’t even said anything yet! Why are you picking a fight?”, mouths the disgusting cuntface.
“Why should I even give you a chance? Just go away, asshole!”
“Fine… [word that mocks social issue y]” he mutters as he gets up and leaves.
“I wish I could block you like on the Internet!” you yell at him as he walks off somewhere, hopefully to bother someone else. Thank fuck for that.
Six months pass. School remains at much the same level of drudgery and dickheads, but your Internet experience has gradually changed – for the better. Whenever someone appears on your social networking who disagrees or makes fun of [social issue y], you block them – there’s no talking to these people, they never agree with you about anything, and have a stupid answer for everything. There’s no point to argue with them, how can they argue and mock something so obviously important? Better to just block and be done with them. Also you get rid of all the trolls who say things about how they don’t like [k-pop group x] for whatever reason – after all they know you’re a fan so why would they spread hate on your page? As time goes on more and more of these people are blocked, and pretty soon, you’re surrounded only by people who agree with you about the awesomeness of [k-pop group x] and the incredible importance of [social issue y]. Whenever you post something about these things, everyone agrees with it! It’s great to feel surrounded by people who only think exactly like you do.
One day, you’re sitting on the bench at lunchtime in your favourite spot, staring at the clouds for a few minutes before you have to go back to class.
“HEY, ASSHOLE! LOOK OVER HERE!” shouts someone from behind you, no doubt your “friend” the fuckstain.
You turn around on the bench just in time to see an object coming right at your face. You don’t have time to dodge it or even identify it properly. Frozen in shock, the object hits you on the side of your head, knocking you out cold.
You wake up. Slowly, at first. Your eyes feel heavy, it’s hard to even open them. You sit up and look around. You’re in a dark room, lying on a bed. The walls, floor and bedsheets are white, but there’s no light here, except a small amount creeping in from a dim skylight above your head which has a large crack through it. You look down at your clothes, you’re in a white hospital gown. You realise that you’re in a ward. You get up out of the bed and pace around the small room.
Your joints feel stiff and walking is awkward at first. You pace around in circles a few times, it starts to get a little easier. How long have you been out for? It must have been a while, you feel very weak and wobbly on your feet. You hear your own breathing, more pronounced than usual as you struggle to move your limbs comfortably, and this makes you notice that it’s very quiet. A solitary machine on the bench behind your bed makes a low hum, other than this you can hear nothing at all apart from the sounds of your own body and what sounds like some birds outside. The room seems kind of dirty, with a thin film of grime across everything. You can feel the dirt on your bare feet, between your toes, as you pace back and forth.
After a few minutes, you feel confident to move somewhere. You want to find someone who can explain what happened to you. You open the door opposite the bed. It leads out into a grimy corridor.
You shout “hello?” – no response. Where are you? Are you even in your hometown? There’s plenty of natural light, but no actual lights are on, and nobody is around. You continue walking through the maze of corridors, looking for a way out, so you can get your bearings. As you move further and further through the hospital, the building looks more and more like it’s falling to pieces. Walls and ceilings show huge cracks and burn marks, random chunks of debris are strewn on the floor endangering your feet and after a certain point there’s barely an intact pane of glass anywhere. You walk very slowly and carefully. Eventually you reach the foyer and step outside the building, into a courtyard.
You look around. From the outside, you can really see how trashed the building is. It’s hard to walk anywhere as there is debris all over the ground. The surroundings are equally deserted. There’s lots of junk everywhere but the street outside the hospital has no cars… well, no intact cars. There’s a couple trashed vehicles across the road which look similar to the hospital you just emerged from – all burn marks, warped metal and smashed glass. You walk gingerly over to the road at the front of the hospital. Looking down the road into the distance, you see mainly just trees and hills, with the odd completely destroyed car on the side of the road. You might conceivably still be in Seoul but you doubt it – it doesn’t look like anywhere you recognise.
You turn to look the other way and you see a girl in an army uniform – full camouflage and a helmet with a red cross on it. She looks about your age, and notices you at the same time that you notice her. She has a small rifle with her, that she points at you seemingly only out of reflex – as she makes eye contact with you, a look of recognition crosses her face and she lowers the rifle straight away. It’s obvious from her expression that she knows who you are – however you’ve never seen her before.
“Where am I?” you ask her.
The girl says nothing in reply but instead fumbles for a radio on her belt. She maintains eye contact with you while she talks to someone on the radio. You hear only her half of the conversation – the other half is too scratchy and full of radio static to discern clearly.
“Looks okay. No shoes or clothes yet. Could use a feed.”
“praise [k-pop group x]”
“Front of the hospital.”
“xxxx-x-xxxx–x—x-x–x-x–x-xx—-x -x–xx-x-x-xxxxx-xx-x-xx- x-xxx–xx-x-xxx-xx-x-x–x– -xx—x—x–x-x–x–x– -x-xxxxxx-xx-x-xx-x -xx-xx- x x—x–xx-xx-x-x-x–xx-x-xx-x-x—–xxxxx-xx-xxx-xxx-xx-xxx x-xxx-xxx-x-xx-xxxx-x—-x xxxx-x-xxxx-x-xx-x-x-xxxx”
The girl doesn’t break eye contact with you the entire time she’s on the radio. You look back and notice that she has a strange look in her eyes, a combination of weariness and a barely-restrained emotion you don’t recognise. You also notice for the first time that you’re actually really hungry – and thirsty. The girls puts the radio back in her belt.
You couldn’t help but notice something about her radio chat. “You like [k-pop group x]?” you ask.
The girl rolls up the sleeve of her army fatigues to reveal a large tattoo of [k-pop group x]’s logo on her forearm. You gasp – you’ve never seen such a bold display of devotion! She smiles a little when she notices that you like her tattoo. Finally she speaks to you: “Listen carefully and do as I say, it is important for your survival”, she says in a deadpan, matter-of-fact manner.
“Where am I? What’s going on?” You start to feel tears well up.
The girl is unmoved. “It’s important that you stay calm. We have a long journey ahead, there’ll be time to fill you in on the road.”
“Where am I going? I just want to go home!” You start crying.
“Keep the noise down, you [word that mocks social issue y]! You’re going to get yourself shot!”
Your stomach turns. “Why are you making fun of [social issue y] – it’s important!”
The girl’s expression suddenly changes and she stares at you warily. You sense some hostility as she grips her rifle for a second, then reconsiders it and lets go. She seems confused. “You’re lucky I have orders.” she says to you, threateningly. You’re not sure if you’ve just made your best friend or your worst enemy. Maybe both?
Once she calms you down, the soldier girl scavenges some boots that semi-fit your feet and some army clothes from somewhere (“don’t even ask”, she says), gives you a water flask and marches with you along the hospital road for what seems like hours. Noticeably, she doesn’t walk you right alongside the road but in the trees and scrubland, about fifty metres away (“it’s safer this way” she says). During the long journey she explains to you that you had been in a coma for a year. For the last four months of that year, she has been your sworn protector, allocated to protect and serve you by the armies loyal to [k-pop group x]. While you were in a coma, there had been an uprising which has caused great conflict within Korea, not the predicted North/South war (which fizzled abruptly as the South and North’s leaders both began acting more and more like each other), but a war along different lines – those who loved [k-pop group x], and their anti-fans who were fiercely loyal to [competing k-pop group z]. During this time, it was her job to guard the hospital that you were stationed at, and to not only look after your personal security but to keep your health and hygiene intact. She goes into details about brushing your teeth, feeding you through tubes and changing your clothes and bedsheets while you were in a coma – far more detail than you want her to go into, but it keeps your mind busy while travelling. She also mentions that the hospital has been attacked several times and is a hotly contested territory in the conflict. However she consistently evades one particular question:
“But why were you looking after me? Why me?” you ask her.
“It’s not something I can talk about. You have to see”, she insists.
As night falls, you are still being marched along by the soldier girl. You are directed off the road and up a steep hill.
“I can’t do this anymore!” you complain as your still-weakened legs struggle with the steep angle.
“It’s not much further. We’re only a few minutes away. Be strong!”
The words motivate you to continue. Eventually you come to your destination, a cave hidden in the hills.
You step inside, the entrance leads to a large underground cavern. The entire cave has been carved out into a makeshift barracks complete with a small armoury of rifles and rockets, a dormitory of several bunk beds, and a large meeting space in the center. There are several soldiers here, over a dozen, all female, all about your age. They all look at you with wide eyes, astonished at what they are seeing. Your body is incredibly tired, you look at each face one by one, the girls look battle-hardened but emotional. A girl slightly older than the others greets you, she is dressed in some kind of uniform that makes her seem more important than the others. She bows down at your feet, in a strange display of humbleness, and then points to the wall behind her. There is an inscription, engraved into the rock:
I’m sick of these HATERS who hate my favourite group, [k-pop group x]. I shouldn’t bother with trolls, we should delete them from the earth! You haters disgust me, you need something better to do with your life! I love [k-pop group x] and I don’t care what you say! I only want nice comments and a world without haters! I hate all of you haters! You should just go and die! This is my space, not yours, and[k-pop group x] are perfect! Let’s rise up and destroy the haters of [k-pop group x] once and for all!
You gasp in horror. These are your words from social networking… although not exactly. They are a far more extreme version.
The well-dressed girl speaks. “These are the words which have inspired us to rise up and fight the good fight against the haters and followers of [k-pop group z]. We thank you sincerely for providing these words to us, to show us the true way of loyalty to [k-pop group x], we are forever grateful for this! Your inspiration has allowed us to crush the will of our most hated [word that mocks social issue y]!”
You flinch at the use of [words that mock social issue y]. It’s nice that these people followed your words but you didn’t mean to start a war about it, you just wanted to have a nice social networking account! How can these people follow your love of [k-pop group x] to such crazy extremes but show such utter disregard for your concern about [social issue y]? It doesn’t make any sense to you! “But… I never told anyone to kill anyone! Those aren’t my words! Well, they are… but they aren’t! Also [social issue y] is important! I wrote about that too! Please don’t mock it!” you exclaim.
Everyone in the room who wasn’t looking at you turns to look at you at once. The well-dressed, important-looking girl draws a pistol out of her belt and points it at your head, inches away from your face. “WHAT did you say? You are an impostor who didn’t even write this, and you believe in the garbage [social issue y] movement?” she asks menacingly.
You don’t have time to think up an answer as a large explosion outside nearby makes the ground shake and dust falls from the cave ceiling.
“You’ve been followed!” the girl screams at the other soldier girl who brought you here.
“I didn’t see anyone! We kept a low profile!” the soldier girl replies.
“Traitor!” another girl in the room yells.
Another explosion rocks the cave, much closer this time. Everybody in the room instantly stops bickering, grabs a weapon and runs for the exit.
“Get out of here! We’ll get caved in!” yells the important girl who just threatened you, as she ushers the others outside. Her prediction becomes quickly true as a third explosion dislodges a chunk of boulder from the cave ceiling which falls right on top of her head, instantly transforming her from a living breathing sharply-dressed military girl into a squashed mess of limbs and blood. You can hear gunfire outside by the cave exit, perhaps the others are shooting people outside, or getting shot, or maybe both, who can tell. You wonder what life is even about at this point. More explosions, too many to count. Too exhausted and physically drained to run anywhere, you assume the foetal position and wait for death. Waves of dirt and mud wash over you as you black out.
“WAKE UP, BITCH!”
You wake up, conscious of a pain in your ribs before anything else. You can hear the sound of a motor, the smell of petrol and you feel wind on your face. You look around. You’re lying down in the back of an open-tray moving vehicle of some kind. There are two soldiers sitting with you, both girls about your age. Not the same type of soldiers from before though, their uniforms are different, and their weapons seem more modern, flashier somehow. You become aware that your hands and legs are both tied. One of the girls has her boot needling into your ribs, the source of the pain. She’s playing with her mobile phone while resting her foot casually but no doubt deliberately where’s its as uncomfortable for you as possible.
“So you’re the [k-pop group x] fangirl who started this shit, hey? Well – we’ve got plans for you!” snaps one of the girls. You figure that this is the other side, the girls who like [k-pop group z] – the haters.
“Lucky for her it’s a long trip – you’ll get a few more hours of life in. Make sure to enjoy them!” laughs the other girl, the one with her foot in your ribcage.
The first girl lights up a cigarette and takes a puff as she looks at you. “Wow, down there you look like one of those people affected by [social issue y].”
The second girl lifts her boot and takes the pressure off your ribs. “You know, all jokes aside, we shouldn’t mock [social issue y], it’s a serious problem in the world today.”
“The first girl nods in agreement. “Yes, it’s true – my bad. We shouldn’t be like those worthless philistines who like [k-pop group x], they’re all really disgusting when it comes to [social issue y]. We should strive to be better than that.”
You try to say something but you can’t get the words out. You suddenly realise that it’s because your mouth has a gag in it.
“Mmhmm mhmmhmmhm mhmhmmm!!!” you say.
Both of the girls laugh at you. “It seems this little [k-pop group x]-loving idiot has something on her mind. Should we take her gag out?”
The other girl nods. “This is going to be a long trip, I could use some entertainment. Let’s hear her out.”
The girl closer to you reaches behind your head and removes the gag.
“I wrote about [social issue y] too – go look it up.” you say between gasps for air.
“Oh, I can’t wait!” says the girl playing with her phone as she laughs and searches up your social networking.
As she finds your page the smile drops off her face instantly. She then shows the screen to the other girl, who also reads it and becomes very serious. The next ten minutes of riding are very quiet. Finally one of them pipes up.
“What a drag that we have to kill you. You seem smart, if only you didn’t like [k-pop group x]”, sighs one of the girls.
“Why is it a problem? Can’t I just like it?” you ask.
“No, of course not!” both girls tell you, as if you’re stupid. “You’ve seen how much conflict and destruction liking that group has caused!”
More silence. A few minutes later, a loud banging noise rocks the vehicle and a plume of dirt shoots into the air. “Ambush!” yells one of the girls.
Rapid gunfire breaks out from the sides of the road as the girls in the back of the truck with you plus two more girls in the cabin all exit the vehicle and lie down on the ground, returning the gunfire with shots of their own. You remain tied up, lying on your side in the tray of the truck, hopefully a hard target to hit, but are they even aiming for you anyway, aren’t they just fighting with each other? Do they even know that you’re in the vehicle? You can hear bullets landing nearby. As chaos engulfs the roadside, a man quietly enters the tray, motions with his finger over his lips for you to be silent, picks you up and runs with you in his arms, seemingly in the opposite direction to the madness. You’re too tired and scared to argue, as the gunshots gradually get quieter and further away. It’s the last thing you remember.
You’re sitting in a chair, in a large gym. You’re not completely sure how you got here. You look around. Happily, you notice that there are no soldiers here, also your arms and legs are not bound. In front of you is a large plate of food, mostly eaten. You don’t feel hungry or thirsty, or even uncomfortable any more, it’s amazing what a nice meal can do! A older man appears in front of you, dressed in a suit.
“Presenting The Art Of Thoughts, by Chou TZUYU!” he says, in a grandiose, theatrical manner, waving his arms to introduce Tzuyu. Tzuyu appears with a smile, holding a large ring-bound notepad. You sit and listen as Tzuyu gives a presentation. As Tzuyu talks, you become gradually aware of a cozy, warm fuzzy feeling.
Hi, I’m Tzuyu from TWICE! My presentation today is all about thoughts! Now that you are refreshed and mentally alert, please sit back and enjoy!
Thoughts are like viruses for the brain. When you share thoughts with someone else, it’s like you are infecting them, and like infections, thoughts can spread and become contagious. With the Internet, this effect is magnified, and people can share their thoughts faster and with more people than ever before!
A good example is a joke that is very funny – people can’t resist retelling it, so the joke gets retold to many people. Of course the chance of a joke being retold to more people and being more contagious depends on the quality of the “funny”. When people retell a joke, they may make it more funny, or less funny, depending on how smart and funny they are as joke-tellers. A less funny joke has less chance of being shared so it quickly dies, but a funnier joke will spread further and further, maybe all across the globe! This is why the Internet has funnier jokes than your corny parents!
On the other hand, what if the thought is not something funny, but something that makes you really angry? Angry thoughts that tap into people’s sense of outrage tend to spread further if they make people as angry as possible, and just like how some joke-tellers change the joke to make it funnier, people who spread angry thoughts sometimes change the thing that makes them angry, to something even more annoying, either deliberately (because they have an agenda to spread anger about something they hate) or by accident (because of only knowing or understanding part of the story before they retell it). The more annoying thing may not even be true, but because it is more annoying, it taps deeper into people’s sense of outrage and has a higher chance of spreading further and more effectively than the less annoying (but more nuanced and trufaxual) thing. Many people can’t resist sharing something that really pisses them off!
Let’s take the issue of [social issue y] as an example.
Do people really care about [social issue y]? Well, some do and some don’t! However people who like [social issue y] and people who think [social issue y] sucks have something in common – they really don’t like to hear from each other, they find that people on the other side of the debate really annoy them. So what someone who likes [social issue y] will do when they hear a dissenting voice from someone who hates [social issue y] is one of two things (or both):
- They will block or silence the other person, removing their voice, leaving behind all the other voices that approve of [social issue y] in their circle, making it a more approving-of-[social issue y] environment where they are less likely to be questioned and hear dissenting voices from their original source
- They will grab that other person’s dissenting voice and share it around, going “look how annoying this fuckhead is, this moron who is making fun of [social issue y]!”
Of course these hate-statements will spread more rapidly throughout the we-love-[social issue y] community if the facts are distorted (deliberately or accidentally) to make the hate-statements seem even more annoying, more stupid, more illogical than they really are. Just like how the version of the joke that spreads the furthest is the funniest, the version of the ridiculous-statement that spreads the furthest is the one that outrages the most people, which means that it’s usually the version where facts that give nuance to a situation are discarded in favour of simplistic statements that provoke sheer irritation. I’ve used likers spreading haters in this example but the same phenomenon works exactly the same vice-versa, haters spread distorted amplified versions or extreme examples of things that likers say in the same way. This is why almost everything viral that gets rapidly shared on both sides of any political or social debate is full of shit – content which has a higher degree of fabrication designed to ridicule the other side of the debate and make them look dumb has so much more chance of spreading and being seen and heard within each closed community than what the other side are really saying. The same Internet that makes funny jokes funnier, makes anger-inducing statements and nonsense more extreme. This is fine when you’re telling a joke, but not if you’re trying to share something that is real because the transformation process that allows the thought to spread so much quicker also distorts the truth.
How does this work with k-pop groups? Let’s say that a k-pop group has a scandal, such as the one that I had recently with the whole Taiwanese flag-waving thing. The sides of the debate that will spread the fastest will be “Tzuyu is a Taiwanese bitch who hates China” and “Tzuyu is an angel who supports her precious country, how dare other people attack her”, because they are the most polar extreme options. The nuanced truth of “I don’t really give a shit about Taiwan either way I just held the flags up because the cameraman thought it would be a nice prop and I was doing what the man said because just like you I’m an underage girl with no real control over my life” may be correct but it won’t spread as far – it doesn’t have the annoyance potential to go viral in the way that the extremes of the debate do, so the voice of reason will be overshadowed.
You can help stopping the Internet from becoming stupid. Firstly, by all means block people who harass you on the Internet but don’t block people who you disagree with or try to peer-pressure them into silence just because you don’t like their opinions only. Even if they are fucking morons it’s good to get the other side, but also be aware that what that side are sharing is probably biased as hell and tuned to appeal to their biases through the aforementioned distortion process. You can learn a lot by seeing how other people react to biased information.
Remember that your own side is biased too, things that go viral because you like them do so because they appeal to you and your peers, and any “fact” that has spread through a lot of other brains before it gets to yours is one where other people may have “tweaked the truth” (deliberately or accidentally) so it seems even more appealing to spread, so be wary. For instance, we all know T-ara weren’t bullies, but we also all know they’re humans and not perfect angels – but to a T-ara fan “T-ara are perfect angels” is a much more appealing thing to spread around than “T-ara fucked up a bit on SNS and were a bit bitchy but hey what bunch of young girls isn’t, however let’s maybe not pin them to the stake for something that everyone on the planet does, just because we see our own reflection in the mirror when we look at T-ara and can’t handle it”. That statement doesn’t have as much virality to a T-ara fan because it’s more nuanced – “T-ara are angels” seems like a stronger, more extreme statement that can be seen to fight harder against the wildly incorrect, very annoyingly viral statement of “T-ara are bullies”. However spreading “T-ara are angels” doesn’t actually help – it just creates more “T-ara are bullies” from the pitiful individuals who have been suckered by viral anger into believing the other side.
Extreme simplistic untruths on two opposite ends of an opinion spectrum might seem opposed but in fact they have a symbiotic relationship, they reinforce each other because they are so annoying that they make the other side want to respond with even more extremity, ensuring that people argue in constant viral circles, gradually tweaking the argument to make it even more extreme, and nobody ever gets to the real truth of a situation. By being extreme about it, you’re not “fighting the lies” – you’re helping them grow and spread, by enraging more people to fire back with lies in return. The truth is usually out there somewhere, but you usually have to dig for it – something that just plops into your lap (or your laptop) with either “outrage” or “how perfectly awesome” written all over it is highly likely to be wrong, or at least missing some important details. Always question the information you receive – especially if it seems true and hits your emotions hard, because viral lies are specifically honed to do exactly this!
Anyway, that’s how you ruined your life and the lives of those around you. Do you believe in reincarnation?