Tag Archives: Social Media

Monsters

“Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.” – Stephen King

If anyone out there is looking for some royal digs to call home, Bran Castle is now up for sale.  For a cool $80 million and the approval of the current owners, you can enjoy the drafty coziness of a 57 room castle with underground tunnels and secret passageways perched on a 200 foot tall rock base between Transylvania and Wallachia.

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Bran Castle and local lore about the strigoli served as inspiration for Bram Stroker’s Dracula. While tales of paranormal vampiric beings have a rich history rooted in ancient Babylonian blood-sucking ghosts, Bram Stoker’s Dracula was the first to give vampires the ability to change into bats.  The result was terrifyingly captivating, people still link Bran Castle with the undead despite the castle’s tenuous ties.

The Dracula character was inspired by Vlad the III nicknamed Vlad the Impaler posthumously because of his favorite form of torture.  Vlad the Impaler didn’t kick back with blood cocktails, he was more into perching victims high on top of stakes, torching weak and disabled guests, cooking children and feeding them to their mothers, forcing men to consume their wives breasts and of course impaling anyone who was left standing.  While Vlad was historically the worst host ever of dinner parties, he never actually owned Bran Castle which was home to Hungarian royalty.  Vlad was imprisoned at Bran Castle somewhere between one night and two months but because of its literary association, Bran Castle is a major tourist draw, getting approximately 450,000 visitors a year.  Buckingham Palace sees 50,000 visitors a year.  To be fair, Buckingham Palace is only open to tourists 2 months out of the year, but conversely is far easier to get to than remote Bran Castle.

So for your $80 million, you are getting a castle Bram Stoker read about where a historically sick puppy slept as a prisoner to which very pale people flock to wander around with struggling actors dressed as family-friendly vampires.  So basically, you get to be the proud owner your very own Goth Disney.  Unfortunately none of those 57 rooms are bathrooms, so it’s probably more desirable real estate for the undead.

From the fictional vampires of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, to the cruelly dubbed PromBat, bats are making an unseasonably strong showing in headlines.  Rihanna is being accused of having a monstrous streak cloaked beneath her Barbadian beauty, seemingly mocking one of her fans via social media not once, not twice, but three times because of her prom attire.

First the side by side with the unhappy face:

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Then the follow-up with the Wu-Tang Clan logo:

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And finally pointing out she’s just sharing the ridicule, she didn’t coin any of the cruelty:

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High school student Alexis Carter was thrilled to wear a dress just like the one Rihanna sported on a red carpet to her Hollywood-themed prom.  The teen had posted pics of herself on social media where PhotoShoppers made some modifications to the images and reposted the pics, dubbing Alexis Carter PromBat.  My heart breaks for the sixteen-year-old who was so excited to wear the fashion homage to Rihanna, then became the target of cyberbullies with Rihanna eventually Tweeting the pics.  According to the teen, “Now everyone is bashing me.”

I can’t imagine ridiculing a fan like that, especially a teen, which is why I hope something got lost in translation, Rihanna appears to be making fun of one of her own fans.  Whatever our medium, artists are driven by a compulsion to create and we hope to reach just one other fellow human being.  I am so deeply honored and humbled any of you are even reading this.  Hi, temi!  Your support means the world to me, it’s such a profound gratitude, I just can’t fathom at what point Rihanna would have lost hers.

Sadly, Alexis Carter was the victim of cyberbullying before the pics got to Rihanna, they had been taken off social media, doctored by PhotoShoppers and reposted with the PromBat hashtag.  Rihanna’s Tweets with her more than 35 million followers have made the ridicule go supernova for the teen.

Perhaps the internet has desensitized us to the idea that there are actual people with actual feelings behind the online handles and hashtags and we’re becoming drained of our own humanity.

What is cyberbullying other than another form of torture?  It’s linguistic vampirism. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, e-mails, and WordPress are just some of the ways in which technology has imbued us with the ability to harm other human beings without even having to leave the comforts of home.

There was a time when trolls were creatures of folk lore who collected tolls or were ridiculous looking dolls with brightly colored hair that were in need of a deep condition.  Now we encounter them in every online comment section, some of us are accused of being trolls if we dare offer a differing opinion.

What happened with Alexis Carter represents the worst of what social media can do.  Teenage victims of cyberbullying are twice as likely to commit suicide.  Hopefully Alexis is strong enough to withstand the public ridicule that has come from trying to honor someone she once greatly admired.  Sadly the internet brings out the worst in us sometimes and yet the monster is of our creation.  The internet can’t be stopped with a stake through the heart, fire or a silver bullet, it’s not vulnerable to garlic, crosses or wolfsbane, we have created a monster that’s virtually impossible to destroy.

The question remains, how far is too far when it comes to Freedom of Speech?  Do you think Rihanna owes Alexis Carter an apology?

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Madness or Genius?

I’m actually not quite sure anymore if Amanda Bynes is having a breakdown or if she is the greatest marketing genius of all time.  I recently joined Twitter and noticed that Hollywood icon and North American treasure William Shatner mentioned his goal of reaching 1.5 million Followers.  At this very moment he’s at 1,493,355 whereas Amanda Bynes is at 1,576,467.  A troubled former Nickelodeon star is kicking Shatner’s ass with Followers.  Overnight, she added thousands of followers while William Shatner added about fifty.  How is that even possible?  William Shatner is Captain James T. Kirk, commander of the Starship Enterprise and T.J. Hooker.  He’s so cool he can talk his way through an album and people will pick it up.   In nerd world, William Shatner is kind of like our Jack Nicholson.  Amanda Bynes has been on “All That”, “The Amanda Show” and “What I Like About You”, none of which have conventions filled with devoted fans of which I’m aware.

People everywhere are talking about her erratic Tweets.  People scoff at the idea that a NYPD officer slapped her vagina.  The officer of course denied it. Maybe he did really do it, after all, if Drake really had murdered her vagina, wouldn’t it technically be a crime scene?  Maybe he needed to check on the status of the victim, you never know.  No one really talks about Vagina Murders, maybe they happen more than we are aware of.  I mean, how do we know there aren’t Vagina Ghosts haunting panties everywhere, mourning their lives cut short, the vajazzling that will never be?

In general, I am a huge fan of crazy.  After years of observing human beings in their natural habitats, I have concluded the Cheshire Cat was right, We’re All Mad Here.  I have yet to meet someone I think is totally normal, I certainly wouldn’t have them in my life, how boring is total normalcy?  As Data pointed out in Star Trek: First Contact, “Believing oneself to be perfect is often the sign of a delusional mind.”  I think sanity is a horrible thing to do to a person, crazy has the best candy.  Crazy people have more freedom of expression and hat options, I have a panda hat I’m quite fond of.  Oscar Wilde said, “Life is too important to be taken seriously”.  There are varying levels of crazy of course, most of us are fun crazy, it means there could be a stuffed armadillo in our desk drawer, we might air drum to Poison’s “Talk Dirty to Me” on a city bus but we love life, we’re not a danger to anyone.  Then there’s manipulative crazy, where people start behaving erratically in a calculated manner for attention or for strategic reasons, they want to look vulnerable so they will no longer appear to be a threat to their opponent, thus giving them the element of surprise.  Calculated crazy can also be used to force a person’s hand or sometimes simply because they know people will give them their way because they fear the porcupine quills of utter madness.  Acting crazy is also incredibly cathartic, you can say whatever you want, do whatever you want and people give you a little leeway because your grasp on reality has gone to Disney World.  Howl at the moon in the middle of the sidewalk, spin around really fast and try to become Wonder Woman, wear rainbow colored socks and skip.  It’s almost like a little excursion back into your childhood playtime.

One of literature’s great questions is whether or not Shakespeare’s Hamlet was truly mad.  Some believe he truly was all along while others think he was feigning madness as a self-protective measure so Claudius, who murdered his father, wouldn’t see him as a threat for the thrown.  Hamlet admits to Gertrude, “I essentially am not in madness, but mad in craft”.  He needed to expose the Claudius as a murderer in a public manner because killing him and then telling everyone it was okay, he had it on good authority from a ghost that Claudius was the murderer, would have seemed a little Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.  Hamlet outs himself as sane, accidentally murders Ophelia’s Daddy which results in her suicide and in the end Hamlet and Claudius both die so it wasn’t really the plan of the century.  My personal opinion is that Hamlet was feigning madness in the beginning, but got so wrapped up in it, it wound up pulling him under and he did go insane.

I was hoping Amanda Bynes was the greatest marketing genius of all time, she was creating much ado about everything in order to put herself into the spotlight as she launched her singing career as a rapper.  After all, when she announced she was retiring from acting,  a lot of people asked who Amanda Bynes was.  Everyone must know who she is by now.  I wondered if her Twittering was really just the opening act for the first album she released, I figured she’d call it something like “The Vagina Murderlogues”.  She is threatening to sue a lot of people, including those who use old photos of her in articles, saying she only wants her recent ones used.  She’s also threatened to sue TMZ for publishing a photo of broken glass found on the third floor roof of Amanda Bynes’ apartment building in an article entitled, “It Looks Like A Shattered Bong” the first sentence of which reads, “THIS could be the shattered bong Amanda Bynes allegedly threw out her 36th Floor apartment window last week.”  TMZ worded it very carefully.  It could be her bong, it could be a lot of things in addition to a bong, like I Dream of Jeannie’s Summer Home Bottle, part of the outdoor chandelier of an alien discotheque craft or maybe it was just someone’s hopes and dreams.  There’s no way of positively identifying whether or not it was her bong, it had been left out in the rain for three days, thus compromising any forensic evidence.  TMZ’s managing editor is Harvey Levin, ironically a lawyer turned journalist.  Most professional journalists without a law degree know that public figures must prove in defamation cases that the writer or publisher acted with malicious intent, the statements being false and harmful to the image is simply not enough, New York Times Co. v. Sullivan set that precedent way back in 1964.  But maybe some bloggers out there don’t know that as a public figure she would have to prove they doubted the validity of the statement and printed it anyway, an extremely high burden of proof as it is hard to prove what someone is thinking unless there is a paper trail of someone stating they wish to harm a person’s image, so maybe she spared herself some photos of herself pre-nose job from being published.

Then on May 29th at 7:27pm, Amanda Bynes made the proclamation that made speculation come to a screeching halt: “I’m not crazy”.  When someone makes a proclamation like that, it’s game over.  If you feel the need to profess your sanity, it’s usually in an attempt to get all the glial cells in your whacked out little mind to stop playing keep-away with that last thread tying you to reality.  One of the worst things anyone can do is to announce to the world is that they’re not crazy because suddenly everyone looks around nervously and says, “oh, crap, this isn’t a fire drill, this girl has lost her mind”.

There’s no proof of Amanda Bynes having any mental illness.  On Thursday May 24th, Amanda Bynes was arrested by the NYPD and charged with reckless endangerment and tampering with evidence for allegedly throwing a bong out of a window.  Afterwards, because of the reported fit she threw when she was being arrested, she was taken to Roosevelt Hospital for a psychiatric evaluation and was then released.  I don’t like when people speculate on what might be wrong with her.  I’ve read suggestions from people that she was sexually abused at Nickelodeon to her having bi-polar disorder.  The general consensus is that there is something wrong with her, but it’s reckless to start hurling mental illness diagnoses at her.

Amanda Bynes is walking around with people documenting her every move, which as a public figure is to be expected, but it’s a lot of pressure on a person, it’s unnerving to be watched all the time.  However, she’s not doing herself any favors by calling Chrissy Teigen ugly and declaring herself a beauty queen and lashing out against celebrities who have tried to express concern for her.  Yesterday she posted, “I ignored Lance Bass on twitter and now he is saying I have a mental illness.  Sorry you’re an ugly ex boy band member with no talent or career.”  These kinds of Tweets are fueling the media scrutiny on her.  As was reported at her court hearing, she is drawing more attention to herself by screaming at people to leave her alone.  Hey, I’ve been ranting to Sears/Kmart about the gazebo they still haven’t taken care of, I am trying to get the attention of someone in the company who is going to handle this in a satisfactory manner, a month is far too long to take care of a gazebo that was delivered damaged and appeared to be used.  It’s taking up my seating area outside and they still haven’t credited me so I’m being charged interest on something that should never have been delivered to me.  I don’t want to sue them, but I’ve lost faith in a case manager who has changed his story about the item being picked up and has never called me when he said he would, if they don’t handle the matter by the deadline I have set, I will have to. This is so frustrating to me, I’m going a little Amanda Bynes about it.  With my Facebook posts and Tweets, I’m trying to get a matter resolved so it makes me wonder, what Amanda is hoping to accomplish from her Tweets?  Yesterday she Tweeted Perez Hilton, “No one wants to suck your dick.  Stop living!  Kill yourself!”  What is her motivation for that Tweet?  First of all, never ever encourage suicide.  You don’t know what’s going on in someone’s mind.  At the beginning of the year, I was put on a medication that made me gain twenty pounds in just the first month.  The second month I gained fifteen.  The medication was to save my liver and kidneys and I really thought of rolling the dice with my internal organs because I was so depressed about the weight gain.  If one person had called me ugly or fat, I think that would have wounded me in a way I might not have emotionally recovered from, I wouldn’t have killed myself because that goes against my beliefs but it would have been even harder to get out of bed every day and maybe vanity would have overcome me and I would have stopped taking the meds at a critical time.  You never know what’s going on in someone’s mind or in someone’s life, that’s why you never say something so cruel as suggesting they commit suicide.  For someone who is being accused of all sorts of mental illness, you would think she would be a little more sensitive about the matter.  She also has threatened to sue various news sources for printing statements she felt were inaccurate, she even Tweeted on May 25th, “Don’t believe anything you read about me unless I confirm it on twitter.”  Funny, but I don’t remember being personally polled by her for her statement about Perez, “No one wants to suck your dick.”  I mean, I wouldn’t, if I’m going to tire my jaw out like that, the guy better be into chicks, but not a single person on Earth would want to, Amanda talked to everyone?  She accused TMZ of staging the bong photos but does she have any proof, were they caught on tape planting the shards of glass?  If she is going to argue that statements made online that are worded in a way that lets the readers know they aren’t proven facts shouldn’t be made at all, then she should hold herself to those same standards?

I think as a society we should always remind ourselves to treat others the same way we wish to be treated.  How would she feel if Perez Hilton told her she should kill herself?  We need to be careful of the words we choose, they can wound more severely than any weapon.  For Chrissy Teiger, the model Amanda Bynes called ugly, the issue she struggled with wasn’t deciding not to engage in a verbal war with Bynes, she stated, “The hard part after was seeing them [followers] trying to defend me, and I don’t need that. I mean, it’s fine. I was fine with her comment. That was the hard part afterwards.”  Social media is designed to make us feel like we’re part of a larger community. Because of our front row seats to feuds, sometimes we’re tempted to step into the ring of fights that aren’t ours.

Whether or not Amanda Bynes is having a breakdown of some kind is just speculation.  Even if she is batshit crazy, her Twitter presence is still a genius move, even if it isn’t calculated.  You can argue she’s tarnishing her image, causing speculation about her sanity but there’s no denying she’s got the attention of a lot of people.  Everyone jumped on Adam Levine’s back when he muttered the phrase “I hate this country”, it was said in a moment of frustration in a competition that happened to have been caught on a mike.  He’s apologized for it, I have no doubt he loves this country and the people in it, he’s involved with a lot of charity organizations to help the people of this country.  Amanda Bynes hasn’t apologized for anything she has said, she has stated that the comments on Rihanna were fake Tweets made by hackers.  It’s possible, her account is unverified but it’s also possible it had something to do with the tremendous outlash against her.  In her post stating she saw a bunch of mocked up Tweets, she still gets in a jab at Rihanna, asking, “Why does Rihanna smoke weed and not get in trouble for it but I smoke tobacco and people think I’m on drugs?”  Despite all the erratic posts she hasn’t claimed were the result of hackers, all eyes are on her.  If we as a society are growing tired of people who are famous for being famous, why are we so mesmerized with a woman’s contributions of Selfies and negative posts about others?  We might be the crazy ones here, the answer is simple, if so many people are so concerned about her, why are they just adding fuel to her fire?  If people stop paying attention to her, rewarding her for bad behavior in a sense, then we start to shift the focus of social media from questionable entertainment value back to serving positive purposes.  People have become so used to the dirty laundry on social media sites that they are increasingly becoming a reservoir for detrimental personal information.  A recent study I read by On Device Research said 1 in 10 job applicants between the ages of 16 and 34 haven’t gotten a job because of something they have posted on a social media site.  If we want a better world, why aren’t we focusing our attentions on people and organizations that do good work and improve our society?  We need to be the change we wish to see in the world, so shouldn’t we start with the places we gather to share ideas and connect to people and make those about celebrating the good efforts and ignoring the bad?  We set the tone for the world we live in.  I mean, come on, William Shatner has less of a presence than Amanda Bynes, that is a major wake-up call we’ve veered off course.

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Love,

Lola