Should Teens Be Arrested for the Stupid Things They Say on Social Media?
On Sunday morning, a Dutch teenager named Sarah made one of the most disastrous attempts to be funny on Twitter in history. The 14-year-old girl, whose now-suspended handle was @QueenDemetriax_, decided it would be a good idea to tweet “hello my name’s Ibrahim and I’m from Afghanistan. I’m part of Al Qaida and on June 1st I’m gonna do something really big bye [sic]” at the official account of American Airlines, which responded with an ominous “Sarah, we take these threats very seriously. Your IP address and details will be forwarded to security and the FBI.”
Naturally, she freaked like the kid in trouble she was, tweeting panicked messages to @AmericanAir that she was “kidding,” “joking,” “scared,” “not from Afghanistan,” and “just a girl” who “never did anything wrong” in her life. She briefly paused to take stock of her fame (“Over 2,000 RTs what”) before she was identified by Dutch police, turned herself infor making a false report, and was brought to a court hearing before being released.
It’s not clear that she’ll face criminal charges, but in the wake of her jokey “threat” came a storm of copycats tweeting warnings to American Airlines (and Southwest Airlines, for whatever reason); it was sort of like that scene in Spartacus except much, much stupider. Articles about this hot new teen trend generally took pains to castigate young twitterers like@twerkcunt for their poor choice of prank. Writing for the Washington Post’s style blog, Caitlin Dewey made sure everyone knew that this kind of trolling was NOT COOL, KIDS:
We hardly need reiterate the problems with this kind of thing: Airlines need to take threats seriously, no matter how silly they seem, which means a lot of airline employees (and presumably, police and security and FBI) are spending a lot of time tracking down nuisance threats, as well.
Leaving aside, for a minute, the vast waste of taxpayer money and manpower that represents, there’s another more ground-level problem here: This trolling completely destroys whatever incentives airlines have to engage with their customers on Twitter.
I would argue that if federal agents spent any time whatsoever tracking down Twitter user @comedybatman or the kids making “I think you guys are THE BOMB”–related puns, the resulting waste of taxpayer money is on them, not the trolling teens. But more importantly, the knee-jerk reaction here—tut-tutting at some kids for having some fun making incredibly distasteful jokes—distracts from the actual problem of teens getting arrested, or suspended or expelled from school, for things they’ve posted to social media.
Idiots in England Hold Annual Stinging Nettle Eating Contest
Over the course of one hour on the Saturday before the 2002 summer solstice, Simon Sleigh, an organic vegetable farmer from the village of Hawkchurch in Devon, England, crammed 76 feet of stinging nettles down his ravenous maw. The notion of ingesting nettles in some form isn’t odd, given the ubiquity and touted health benefits of teas, infusions, and even beers made from the weed. But eating the plant straight is another matter. Spiny stalks aside, each nettle leaf is tipped with thousands of microscopic hairs that, when brushed, detach as needles and inject a cocktail of irritating chemicals into whatever flesh tries to disturb them. The tongue and throat are abraded. The mouth turns black. And sometimes the nettles start to ferment in the gut with an audible gargling noise.
Sleigh wasn’t alone. He embarked on this test of endurance alongside several dozen others and a crowd of hundreds who’d turned up for one of southern England’s numerous bizarre spring traditions: Dorset’s own World Nettle Eating Championship, in the town of Marshwood.
Cry-Baby of the Year
Everyone in the world is turning into an entitled psychopath, which led to a massive surplus in the 2013 cry-baby market. It was a crowded field out there this year, and while it’s true that all of the contenders were infantile and pathetic, who was the biggest cry-baby of them all? We’ll let you decide.
We’ve compiled the ten cry-babies who received the most votes over the last year. Cast your vote for the worst of the worst at the bottom of the page to decide who will receive the Cry-Baby of the Year trophy pictured above.
PAUL RYAN: WHAT STUPID PEOPLE THINK A SMART GUY SOUNDS LIKE
At its core, Paul Ryan’s appeal is simple: He’s what stupid people think smart people sound like.
MSNBC’s commentary after the vice presidential debate in October captured the narrative pretty well: “It was Scranton Joe vs. Think Tank Ryan. Heart vs. head.” And that reputation has helped Ryan hustle his way from unimpressive legislative aide to brains of the Republican Party in a decade’s time.
His popularity among voters isn’t much of a surprise. Ryan’s good-looking and articulate. Most importantly, he can convince people there’s intellectual gravitas behind his words. It’s sort of like the Ross Perot phenomenon, a man for whom 20 million people voted in 1992. Since Perot talked like a dweeb, people assumed he had crafty, intelligent plans for the country. Plus he whipped out bar graphs from time-to-time.
And who doesn’t love a good bar graph?
Ryan likes bar graphs, too. Nevermind that his are upside down and backward and layered in shit, like his gross overstating of Medicare’s crisis and his quest to privatize the program. Whatever problems that system has can be solved by expanding the subscriber pool to include the healthy and unhealthy—not by allowing private companies to run the program for profit, which is essentially Ryan’s plan. A plan that, it should be said, isn’t based in the realities of the program, but in Ryan’s rigid adherence to free-market economic dogma.
But what’s more bizarre is Ryan’s popularity among the liberal commentariat, who have helped develop his reputation as a serious thinker worthy of sustained engagement.
These Idiots Think They Are Being Brainwashed by CAPTCHAs
The inspiredly-named Swedish civil rights organization, Civil Rights Defenders, recently launched their own spin on CAPTCHAs (those irritating, unintelligible words that you have to type into that little box on secure websites) in an attempt to verify the empathy levels—and thus the humanity—of anyone typing words into said box. Those boxes are pretty essential nowadays, considering the amount of bots, trolls and horses that stalk the internet, but, until now, nobody’s bothered putting much thought into what actually goes in them. Probably because no one cares what goes into them.
The Civil Rights Defenders’ CAPTCHAs ask users a civil rights-related question and provide three opinion-based answers. For example: “The Albanian Vice Minister of Defense, Ekrem Spahui, thinks that gays should be beaten up with a stick. How does that make you feel? Fascinated, homesick, or terrible?” Then lets you through if you input the right answer.
Although it mostly provokes laughter over deep, ponderous thoughts—the prospect of feeling “sexy” about Serbian police cancelling a Pride parade sounds like a Steven Wright joke—it’s a fundamentally nice idea and is obviously intended purely for good. However, some people aren’t OK with having their opinion about Albanian ministers beating gays with sticks dictated to them. Some people want more options when it comes to expressing their opinions about homophobic physical abuse. People like the guy who sent this email. Let’s call him Tom.
What Sort of Person Still Thinks That 9/11 Was an Inside Job?
As you’ve probably noticed from the wealth of “I remember where I was when…” Facebook statuses, today is the 11th anniversary of the most important day in modern history. The day when the world went from being one, big back-slapping party with Bill Clinton serenading Tony Blair with sax solos, to the era of fear, loathing, and Eminem that wouldn’t subside until a Hawaiian guy who claimed to like Lil’ Wayne pulled us out in a fireman’s lift of optimism.
It feels strange looking back on a not-that-recent-any-more tragedy; we’ve moved on from the grief to the “never forget” stage. The common response has been dignified respect for the victims, and reflection on the wider ramifications of that fateful day. Of course there are people who feel the need to tell us what they were watching on the other channel (I was at the dentist’s and when I was told, I imagined it to be a comical incident involving a bi-plane, if you’re interested), there’s little hand wringing or vicarious cloying to get worked up about.
Sadly, what there are is plenty of conspiracy loons. The people who just won’t believe the “official version of events” and instead subscribe to respected authorities like Alex Jones, Charlie Sheen, and some anonymous whistle-blower with MS Paint's version of events. These people aren't even of the “We'll never really know what happened,” school of thought; these are people who are 100 percent convinced that Dick Cheney was flying planes into buildings like a problem child with an Airfix model.
But who the hell are they? And what else do they enjoy doing besides casting aspersions on logic? Let’s find out.
Nicola Jane likes:
- The television show Hollyoaks
- The television personality Khloe Kardashian
- Tweeting the lyrics of forgotten US R&B star Tweet (what a coindence)
- Tweeting the lyrics of not-forgotten US R&B star Marvin Gaye
- Vanilla lattes
- National Cheesecake Day
Liyah Nichelle likes:
- The rapper Wiz Khalifa
- The pop star Ciara
- Cookies with chocolate on the bottom
- The Twitter account @Hilarious_Dude
- The Twitter account @FemalePains
- The Buddhist concept karma