Monday, August 30, 2010

The 4chan post- Discuss

Recently I was browsing 4chan's infamous board (which can't be referred to by name) and came across an 'inspirational' thread. Now, I've been browsing many of the boards for a few years and have seen many things (some better left unseen), but one image caught my eye. While it was not necessarily 'inspirational' it did make me think.

"Since writing on toilet walls is done neither for critical acclaim, nor financial rewards, it is the purest form of art. -Discuss"

Ah, the 'discuss' topics; usually cancerous and troll-ridden, but this one I found to be enlightening. Why do people write on toilet walls, spray paint abandoned houses and bridges and carve questions into trees? Not the gang sigil and territorial markers but things that, when you look at them, make you think. That is because the traditional channels of expressing yourself have fail-safes.

Censors, even though they are seldom called that, still exist in this day and age operating through legal means and controlling what most people know. Media such as television, radios and the like are strictly regulated on what they can and cannot show or talk about. Newspapers, books and magazines all have editors who's job it is to weed out personal opinions, dangerous truths and unfavorable articles to keep readers entertained and (most importantly) continuing to buy their product.

And that's the problem with all of this. We are not a society driven to get the truth to the people; we do not care if the average person knows just how bad the local gang problem is, or what actually happened during the war; we've become a nation of pleasure-seekers who are happy to live (if you'll allow me the expression) in cubicles of our own making. We don't want the truth, we want a smooth polished lie that fits in with our notion of the world. We don't care what you actually know as long as you keep buying our paper, or watching our program, or reading our book, or whatever the product may be. And I know all of this because I fall into this category myself, but I know I have a cubicle in which I am confined.

Getting back to the point, the last bastion of freedom of information is the Internet; and this (above all else) is the most censored of all. Everything makes it's way to the internet at one point or another; everything from sport scores to the latest news to how to make a bomb to you and your significant other's amateur porno. One of the major problems of the internet... is that everything makes it's way to the internet at one point or another. With all of that information passing through daily, compounding upon itself in a horrifying amalgamation of pieced-together info, pictures, videos and all else. And, because of this, the internet has become the equivalent of a hell pit; millions upon millions of souls screaming out to whoever will listen, hoping that they'll be heard above the awful din.

Perhaps a better analogy is that of a spider's web. Each new page linking it to similar pages, crossing over and merging with others of its kind while spiders (such as Google and Yahoo) spawn hundreds of new strings each hour. With each of these new threads, thousands more fall into obscurity and disrepair; losing valuable information and replacing it with the newest 'thing'. That, along with moderators and administrators on every site available limit the already fragmented knowledge available.

So that leaves graffiti and other acts of 'defacing property'. The beauty of this form of expression is in its simplicity. These acts are meant to be attention-grabbing and are usually very hard to ignore. One example that comes to mind is that of the famous 'Good morning, Lemmings' picture. Imagine yourself as some stuck in that kind of traffic, able to see that message scrawled across the bridge as traffic is at a stop. At that point, you'd really start to think hard about your life and if anything you did was worth doing. As traffic crawled forward like a dying man towards an oasis you'd start to mourn all of the time you wasted working instead of living your life, but in this materialistic society our values have changed from 'people are important' to 'things are important'.

These acts cannot be ignored and the only way to moderate them is to destroy them entirely. They are put both in places that everyone can see and places that are meant to be stumbled upon. They range from personal messages to the world, to over-arching statement of worth and values, to a shining pearl of wisdom unmoderated by those who would want to keep it a secret.

Are they the truest form of art? Perhaps, perhaps not. Are they the truest form or knowledge unbound by fail-safes? That, I can agree with.

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