How the Internet Made Our Cruelty more Sustainable

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Spend enough time watching the animal planet and you'll eventually see a chimpanzee bite his rival's testicles off, and you'll say to yourself, "I'm definitely more evolved than that guy." You're not. You and that chimpanzee are cut from the same cloth. Equally evolved, but under different circumstances. As a standard ape, you have the same instinctive craving for cruelty that he does, but being much weaker, you have to find more creative ways to inflict it.

Along our evolutionary trajectory, we found that grouping into parties to murder the biggest, strongest person was the most effective way to simulate and distribute the pleasure of sinking our teeth into our rival's sack and ripping it clean off. This worked for quite a while, except for one problem: We were self-domesticating. We were removing large, powerful people from the gene pool and making the overall population more docile. With each new generation there were fewer powerful men to gang up on and murder. Fewer chances for groups to satisfy that craving for violence. This is a typical consequence of such trophy hunting behavior.

For a while, it didn't seem there would be a solution to this problem. Then one day on the internet an innocent dentist would pay the ultimate sacrifice. Due to the poor reading comprehension of armchair activists, a minor controversy about a trophy hunt was overshadowed by a made up version of the story. He killed an allegedly beloved lion, their misunderstanding of the story went. The details were never important, though. All that mattered was that circumstances lined up so that millions of people could act out a revenge fantasy that satisfied their primitive desire to destroy another person. This was the first time that the taste of blood reached so many people simultaneously. Thanks to the internet and viral social media, millions of people can sustainably destroy a new person each day, effectively simulating the sweet pleasure of gnashing a juicy pair of balls between their teeth.

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