Will you kill to be cool? And other social media DOHs

How cool is it to kill? And other social media DOHs

by Stan Faryna

Stan Faryna

“With great power comes great responsibility.”

– Uncle Ben

Would you kill to be cool?

It’s hard to command an audience on social media. And those that do – they often bring the snark and fun that lighten things up. Calvin Lee, a Los Angeles website designer, is a social media rock star. He’s not a kid, but he’s got lots of Klout. And Klout perks. I even remember when I started following him years ago on Twitter.

I upset Calvin today – that wasn’t my intention. I pointed out that his sharing yet another insulting meme-graphic of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un… was problematic. The conversation is captured below in the snapshots.

Calvin Lee and Faryna 1

Calvin Lee and Faryna 2

Calvin Lee and Faryna 3

I can only presume that Steve Douglas (founder of the Logo factory) and Calvin Lee were unaware of how a Facebook picture of the brutalized face of the post-mortem Khaled Mohamed Said (Sayeed) ignited the protests that would become the Tahrir Revolution. Khaled was beaten to death during a shake down by Egyptian police officers. In the case of the Sayeed meme, the human family was united against injustice. The world wept in joy with Sayeed’s mother as she rejoiced in the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Yes, Virginia (Steve). Social media and memes can be used in service of love, peace and freedom. Or hate, anger and destruction.

A picture or meme is no longer random when it is being shared and perpetuated.


My continuing the conversation on that post would not have served Calvin or I.

No inch would have been won by my emphasizing that each of us must be a part of the global and local peace process. The love process. The un-hate process.

Calvin – if you are reading this – I know you did not intend any harm. That you did not stop to think about the potential consequences of such a meme going viral – with your help.

I have no beef with you, Calvin Lee. Live long and prosper!

This is an awakening for me. I may even have contributed, unthinkingly, to the evils I now recognize. Of that, I do not doubt.

Doctor Who Faryna Cold War

As I kick back and ready to watch the new episode of Doctor Who, The Cold War, I would like to share this important question with you – especially as you create, comment and share memes and visual communications on the internets.

Will you put human beings and humanity at risk – just to be cool, funny and/or social?

Stan Faryna
13 April 2013
Fairfax, Virginia

Recent blog posts:

Beauty, Come and Get Some

What is Love?

Season 3 Finale of The Walking Dead

Click and buy the mug shown below and help feed kids.

Faryna Mug - love never fails


10 Responses to Will you kill to be cool? And other social media DOHs

  1. Betsy Cross says:

    I saw the converstaion and logged off Facebook. A second later I came back and offered my weal support as a “like” on one of your comments. I felt small, not joining in the conversation. But I knew you were right. And your message was for me, too. So I knew I couldn’t slink away.

    You were both right.

    Calvin is right because he was innocenttly playing around, as I often do, not considering the impact of my actions on the larger audience. But, I, like Calvin, don’t like to give in to paranoia or narcissism, believing that “everyone” cares what I say and do.

    You are right because everything we do adds to the collective whole of “good and evil” if you will. Once we act we lose control of the consequences, and with technology, the Internet, and social media, the consequences can be swift and devastating like a prairie fire lit with one match.

    None of us likes to be reminded of our short-sightedness.

    But I, for one, will try to get used to being corrected because it’s important to learn.

    Great post.

    • Stan Faryna says:

      If we’re both right, then no reflection is required. Nor questions.

      Unlike you and me – whose words do not have great reach, Calvin is a long recognized influential. He has 80,000 followers on Twitter. He is fully aware that his posts carry and he puts great effort into sustaining it.

      • Betsy Cross says:

        I’d say that that’s when the most reflection is required. Great conflicts come down to the willingness of both parties to see their fault and to rise or fall to their opportunity – to be submissive or humble enough to learn and to grow.

        Most people think THEY are right.

        The tricky part is helping each other to stay as far away from the “launch” button as possible.

        Just my opinion as I reflected on your questions.

  2. Stan Faryna says:

    Memes, I fear, are too often the antidote to critical thinking and feeling and yet I do get as much amusement from them as the next person. Who doesn’t love caturdays!

    So what’s wrong with Kim Jong-Un?

    The meme suggests that his problem is that he’s a kid, unusually short and/or overweight. Really? Is that the problem? [grin]

    Then, there is the other side of the coin – the meme’s appeal to prejudice. That the young, the short, and the fat are irrelevant. Or worse, they are merely objects for our collective, amused contempt.

    Finally, have we forgotten that we have close to 30,000 American military personel in South Korea? Are we so sure their safety is not jeopardized by our snarky, social bullying?

    Honestly, I didn’t think much about the problematic of the meme before. But now that I do, it has become a serious concern and question for me. 

  3. With great influence comes great responsibility.

    Most folks in the States don’t think about repercussions of their actions

    “Hey, let’s give up all of fricken rights our “Founding Fathers” fought and died for so our government can keep us safe.”

    Blind ignorance of things they have no understanding about. Our Founding Fathers did. Very well, too.

    That is why they put their lives and the lives of their families in harms way to fight and die to secure the freedoms that we once enjoyed. From the government. Period.

    That deep understanding of politics, freedom and first hand experience of holding dying/ dead, bloodied family members/ friends in their arms gave something most of our fellow countrymen have no idea about. That’s why it was so easy for them to give them up.

    Funny, serious, whatever – with great influence comes great responsibility. It means you have to use your head more (think) before you do things, rather than doing things just to be funny.

    It’s careless.

    More death, killing, blood and fear is coming… When it lands on your doorstep, it will be much harder to dig deep for things to be funny about.

    It makes you stop and think about your actions and how it affects others around you and the planet we all live in.

    Regardless, the only people who will impact the future of the world for good are those who take serious responsibility for the influence they achieve and purposefully use it to contribute positive things to the world. The rest won’t, so I it doesn’t bother me.

    Antagonizing and poking fun at some ‘kid’ running a rogue country with a million man army who potentially has access to atomic weapons is foolish, or hardly responsible.

    That is not funny.

    It’s like pouring more foolishness upon some existing foolishness and building a bonfire of burning bodies. How many bodies and from which country is left to be determined. It’s not a question of ‘if’ it will happen, it’s a question of when…

    There is nothing new under the sun. People are fricken insane and if you mix that into government, power, money and fear – they do the dumbest things imaginable; just like they have and always will.

    If you’re interested in seeing the probable actions and outcome of the current global political situation, just dig into the history books, you’ll find it in there somewhere.

    In regards to Calvin’s share; it’s hilarious. Just sayin.

    • Stan Faryna says:

      Thanks for the long and heart-felt comment, Mark.

      Calvin’s share may provoke a chuckle. [grin] But also misunderstanding, misinformation, prejudice and a path to war.

      I’m with you, Mark. I hope and pray, it doesn’t go hot in Korea.

      We all know that the North Koreans are capable of hitting our 30,000 US soldiers in South Korea with short range nuclear or conventional rockets. In less than an hour. Boom. And that’s about half the number of our fallen in Vietnam over several years – that could all be lost in less than an hour.

      WHY? 100,000s of family members and friends here would ask in their grief.

      As a nation, we should stand by our allies and hold our strategic foothold in Asia, but we don’t need to provoke hate and war as a culture via social media.

      Nor should we ignore the hard fact that the Chinese and Russians are not likely to allow us to have any kind of complete victory against North Korea – just as they powerfully blocked our poor attempt in the 1950s.

      Standing behind the “boy” are a bear, a dragon and WWIII. And it is highly likely that the bear and dragon are writing his lines.

      It also occurs to me that if the West as a culture and society treats North Korea as a joke, North Korea may imagine that it has only one recourse for their voice to be heard – do great evil.

  4. Put these kinds of decisions in a young leaders hands and they could very easily make a wrong decision.

    That’s how young leaders learn; by their mistakes. Yikes!

    Youth and wisdom are a combination very rare to find, if it exists at all. Wisdom comes with living years on the planet – every year under your belt is a little more seasoning, a little more knowledge & understanding and a little less ignorance & stupidity. Hopefully.

    Make fun youth without thinking and he’ll pull the dang trigger. Bang!

    That’s what youth and ignorance does; it perpetrates great evil without thinking of the consequences. Only after a great evil has been done do they wish the could go back in time and change their actions… In many cases, anyhow.

    Hopefully Un’s case, he has some wise leaders around him, but it doesn’t appear that he does. The things that fall out of his mouth and the leaders of N. Korea are so outrageous and backwards a_s, they just might be dumb enough to do something really stupid.

    Hope you’re enjoying your Sunday, brother : )

  5. Stan, I wanted to post a comment immediately after reading your post but I had to wait. I was angry. Every year, families are destroyed because a loved one commits suicide, a preventable suicide. They take their life because someone else made them feel like their life was a joke. It is for each of us to take responsibility for our actions and, especially for our words. To expect everyone else to see the ‘humor’ in our attacks on another human being is a shallow existence. To bully another, even with a meme, does not build one up but, rather, tears all of us down. The Lakota speak of our relations one to another. They say, mi’taku’ye o’yasin, a phrase that holds much respect for life, ALL life. This thinking is so much a part of their lives that they consider the effects of their actions — and their words! — on the next seven, yes seven, generations!?

    So, is it okay to make some nervously laugh at the expense of those we hurt just because they see the world through a different lens? Is it okay to engage in hateful or destructive actions in the name of humor and self bravado? Of course not. There is but one reason to give audience to those who would do so, those who so loosely throw their responsibility to the wind. To ‘stop the guns!’ [This reference is to Sgt Alvin York, an expert marksman and conscientious objector in World War I who hated the idea of war, the idea of hurting another human being. He didn’t want to fight. Then it occurred to him; we won’t have to fight anymore if we just stop the guns! He focused his attention on the machine gun battery until it was silenced. He was not proud of his accomplishment; after all, he killed nine men to silence those guns and, by extension, he tore a huge hole in the hearts of nine German families who would forever be without these men in their lives.] You see, it’s never enough for us to simply turn away when one person hurts another, even jokingly. Especially jokingly. It’s as though they have discounted someone’s life and existence. It is not for us to laugh at another; we can only laugh with them. The lesson here: If we have nothing good to say, it is best to say nothing at all, not even for a shallow, momentary, uncertain laugh, at the expense of another human soul, another person who has the same worth and value we possess.

    There are other considerations, Stan. First, do no harm. To gain popularity, a very shallow popularity I might add, by putting another down demonstrates a major weakness of character. It is for us to lift others, not drag them down. Next, those who would attack another to puff themselves up are scared. Seems to me fear is in control of their lives. It is love they seek, and love they so desperately need. Yet, they are blinded to the notion those they would use to inflate their own ego also need to love, and be loved. Are we to suppose Kim Jong Un has no feelings? Does he not love and need to be loved? Is he not a man? A brother? Do we somehow think putting him down for a few laughs will ease tensions and make things better for THE PEOPLE who call Korea home? Finally, if we are to lead, even as a self-proclaimed social media rock star, let us serve those who follow. All of them. Not just those who think like us, look like us, and/or live like us; not just those who will nervously laugh with us at a misplaced, demeaning joke. People are growing tired of leaders’ walks that do not align with leaders’ talks. I guess Kim Jong un is supposed to be okay with the laughs generated by immature memes. Since that’s the expectation, I suppose those who would broadcast them are okay with folks like me who would remind them of their responsibility to love. one. another. Of course, we know neither to be the case.

    For me, this exchange comes down to respect Stan. Self respect, and respect for others. Each of us are part of a greater whole. We must cultivate a heart of gratitude, thankful for what we have and what we can share with others. We must respect life, all life, if we are to honor the integrity of our own essence. This respect requires a willingness to sacrifice, and to serve. Understanding, acceptance, and joy complete our abundance. Judgment and fear, it seems to me, cannot stand with respect, an outward manifestation of love. All things, after all, are sacred and interconnected. Whether we like it or not, whether we understand it or not, we are one. Everything we do impacts another; it influences everything else. What we do to one, we do to all. We should therefore spend our time and energy building each other up rather than tearing one another down. We would do well to love one another, not love ourselves at the expense of another. Becoming a bridge rather than a building a meme will help all of us move closer to the kind of world we seek, a world that appreciates us for who we are. Thank you, Stan, for helping us to see hate, anger and destruction for what it is, and for pointing out our choice to take the road less traveled, the road of service we call compassion that takes us to a place of love, peace and freedom.

  6. Yogizilla says:

    I enjoyed the closing off with Doctor Who. You are right, Stan.. While North Korea’s leader has been rather ridiculous, there is no need to stoke the fire any further. 8)

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