During the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, a 24-year-old pitcher almost lost his career as he pitched. Self-appointed social justice warriors dug up Josh Hader’s tweets from when he was 17. The tweets were ugly and indefensible. Josh Hader has saved his career with complete contrition, submission to sensitivity training, and enrollment in “diversity and inclusion initiatives.” That is, he will survive so long as he plays for the SJW team. This episode is the latest instance of an online, adolescent, subcultural phenomenon coming back to bite adults, a phenomenon that is worth relabeling.
For many years, (mostly) boys have engaged in acts of oneupmanship and attention-seeking by typing the most outrageous things they could imagine. This is called [expletive]posting and the object is to be considered an edgelord. Thinking through the taxonomy of group behavior @bossmongo provided in “The Establishment Group Monkey Dance,” a more apt, and alliterative phrase, comes to mind.
Miller defines four types of social violence: The Monkey Dance, the Group Monkey Dance, the Educational Beat-Down, and the Status-Seeking Show. I see a parallel between the reactions of the establishment and the Group Monkey Dance.
The Status-Seeking Show is performed to gain status from your group. Miller writes in “More about Violent Dynamics:”
Understand this—the Status-Seeking Show can violate almost all of the rules of normal social violence and that is the point. The SSSer is trying to show his craziness, his willingness to break social rules. So they won’t necessarily attack someone of their own social level (the norm in the Monkey Dance). Beating a child or woman shows craziness; beating a superior—like shooting a cop or ambushing the boss, is taken as both crazy and brave, no matter how safely the ambush was set up.
So, a person seeking status by attacking someone through social media, with intent to harm, or destroy, their reputation or career, may be understood as performing a Status-Seeking Show. Short of such virtual violence, we see primates engage in flinging things at others. We especially notice one kind of flinging, because it hits our emotions.
You know the kind of story: “Monkey Flings Feces That Hits Woman At Zoo.” It is gross, but many will respond with a little sympathetic laugh on hearing “It got grandma.” Naturally, academics have studied this behavior.
After making their discovery regarding the parts of the brain that appear to be involved in better throwing in chimps, the team tested the chimps and found that those that could throw better also appeared to be better communicators within their group, giving credence to their idea that speech and throwing are related. Interestingly, they also found that the better throwing chimps didn’t appear to posses any more physical prowess than other chimps, which the researchers suggest means that throwing didn’t develop as a means of hunting, but as a form of communication within groups, i.e. throwing stuff at someone else became a form of self expression, which is clearly evident to anyone who has ever been targeted by a chimp locked up in a zoo.
So, we may rightly re-characterize edgelords as “poo-posters.” Their behavior apes primates flinging feces. So, we may rightly warn young people not to monkey around online. Why?
If you post poo, some will stick to you!