By Garret D Walton
This blog is going to be about where communications may be going in the future.
Now it’s no secret that the internet is a huge chunk of daily life. Not even ten years ago, one could go a day without internet access and be fine. Now, with it on our phones, in our pockets and backpacks, ready to go wherever we are, it’s become a necessity. More specifically, social media is taking up a huge chunk of our time.
This blog is going to go a bit out into left field. I’m going to discuss one of the potential outcomes of social media and the internet in general in our daily lives. For those of you unfamiliar, this will be about what’s called “Stand-Alone Complex.”
First off to be crystal clear, Stand-Alone Complex (or SAC) is part of a name to a TV show that touches a bit on this. However that show is a bit more actiony than where I’m going to take this post. We’re going to take a more philosophical approach to this.
What is Stand-Alone Complex?
Stand-Alone Complex isn’t exactly what it sounds like. It’s a series of random or seemingly random events that leads to a movement of a group of people. This group is then spurred to action based not on the words of a leader, but simply the perceived principle behind the movement. This could lead to a mob mentality and a global group of people completely out of control, all moving towards one thing, with no idea what that thing is. It could also be used for a good purpose. For example, many of my friends own (RED) items and have no idea what it’s for. They simply like how it looked and saw their friends with (RED) items.
A good example is a copycat killer. The original killing could’ve been done for a specific purpose. However, the copycat sees the attention gained from the original crime and begins to commit murders in a similar fashion, not to achieve the same goal as the original killer, but to obtain the perceived goal of gaining attention.
Although human behavior has yet to reach that dramatic of a scale, one can easily see the beginnings of that kind of society. Although lighthearted in nature, internet memes take off like crazy, oftentimes the original message getting lost early on. Anyone familiar can think of the ‘FFFFFFUUUUU’ meme on the internet. While most of the individuals that create new FFFFFUUUU comics, most cannot tell you which one was the original, or even who created the original one.
Now imagine what the reaction will be like if there is another 9-11 type of attack. Anti-Muslim sentiments spread quickly enough with an archaic internet system and basic cable, but what would happen if nationwide, those people could communicate in an unregulated way and be able to organize. Now take the theory of Stand-Alone complex into consideration. One person commits a hate crime “in retaliation” and it generates a buzz on the internet.
A few more random, uncoordinated attacks occur soon afterwards. Soon, what are actually random attacks have the appearance of nation-wide coordination, springing even more of those who were already considering “retaliation” into action.
Although for a good cause, we’ve already seen this taking place in other countries. Facebook has been used to organize some pretty hefty (and successful) revolutions. While these revolutions were needed, the fact that ordinary random people could organize into an effective fighting force within months is indeed scary.
Well, now that I’ve scared you, I hope you have a great week! The most important thing to take away from this blog is to be constantly evaluating information you receive, and be skeptical of anything calling you to action. Quelling tempers now could save lives in the end.
And finally, with how connected the world is now, one person, one voice, can have all the power in the world. Wield it responsibly.
Garret D Walton…