Opinion | What the internet jokes about the submarine disaster say about society

Are five people missing 12,500 feet under the sea anything to laugh about? The answer, of course, is no, and the question itself is a macabre one. Yet we have to ask all the same because too many viewers of the tale of the lost OceanGate expedition didn’t seem to think the answer was obvious at all.

The Coast Guard announced Thursday that the implosion of a submarine during an expedition to the wreck of the Titanic likely killed all aboard. Yet on the internet this week, on Twitter, TikTok and beyond, many people didn’t treat the story like a catastrophe as it unfolded. They treated it like a farce.

The apparent reasoning that some of these people were billionaires and that billionaires are not worthy of sympathy sounds more revolting than ever after the story’s horrifying end. But the feelings of blatant cruelty are why they’re worth looking into.

This is, admittedly, primarily a story of social media, not a story of what the less online might call real life. But social media AND real life. What kids who spend their days on the internet watch and listen to on these platforms says something about what they believe, and what they believe determines what the future will be like. This week’s submersible gagfest suggests we’re hurtling towards a world where loss of life is a punchline and blamed on social media’s tendency to turn us into antagonists.

Guest opinion: The Titan submarine has met its end in a vast dark world

Judging by the comments of the past few days, it’s okay to at least smile as people die, if those people are ridiculously rich. The result, expressed in one of the most popular tweets on the subject (32,000 likes), was: You paid a quarter of a million dollars to be a funny Wikipedia article in 20 years. You die and become a foolish fact.

Memes on the subject abounded, with users essentially cutting and pasting passengers suffering in the same picture or joke formats they all jumped to to ridicule celebrities. A case in point, with a whopping 100,000 likes and counting:

The headline of an article in the satirical news site The Onion reads: Coast Guard sends another submarine full of billionaires after the first. A colleague who attended a quiz night at a local bar many have told me the teams had adopted names along the lines of We All Die in a S—ty Submarine.

Dark humor, of course, is nothing new. This particular story came with its share of absurdity, from the $30 game controller driving the submarine to the stepson of one of the passengers arguing with rap star Cardi B about whether it was disrespectful of him to attend a concert. of Blink-182 as his family. expected news of the fate of his stepfather.

The Internet treats everything as content; he cares much less about context. So these facts, rather than adding an air of surrealism to a somber moment, turned into fodder for the 21st-century equivalent of dead-baby jokes.

Usually, though, the tellers of twisted jokes acknowledge the nausea of ‚Äč‚Äčtheir jokes that what they’re doing is, at its core, kind of awful. The strange thing about this week’s comedy club environment is that so many refused to accept the premise that there was anything terrible about wise cracking, because there wasn’t even anything so terrible about what was happening to these maybe stuffy people. When others chimed in to suggest the insensitivity of their giggles, the joke tellers replied, no, actually, laughing was good, because these rich kids demanded it. The episode was an illogical extension of the glee that accompanied reports earlier this month of killer whales ramming into expensive yachts. Only this time, what was in danger were not unnecessarily large boats, but human lives.

These days, however, peace and goodwill towards men don’t tend to go viral. The crass jokes illustrate how the gravity of the internet pushes us to extremes. The incentive is to argue or inflame, because it’s rewarding when our allies strongly agree and our enemies strongly disagree, and besides, the algorithm likes it. More clicks, less careful consideration. Especially when it comes to ideology or politics, persuasion seems impossible, so we give up on each other and many of us give up everything else as well, plunging into doomerism: the world is warming up and there is nothing that we can do about it.

At best, we were always looking for an opportunity to act ironically or provocatively. At worst, we’re looking for an opportunity to be angry at each other, or downright terrible at each other. Combine this drive with the rich-eating attitude so common among Gen Z and left-leaning Americans of all ages. The belief is that not only is every billionaire a political failure, but also being a billionaire is a personal failure, due to the immorality and lack of empathy inherent in hoarding so much money while the huddled masses starve and the globe gets hotter. Against this backdrop, the deaths of these ludicrously wealthy individuals seem like a prime opportunity for a truly disgusting meme. What we miss is that responding to a perceived inhumanity with dehumanization will only forgive the sick, sick pun that will sink us all.


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Image Source : www.washingtonpost.com

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