The Tarantulas of Social Media

The technology may be new but the anger, resentment and desire for revenge never change

Photo by Oleg Didenko on Unsplash

As with any new technology, with the ascent of social media we act as if the information we’re getting from this recent innovation is something new, surprising, and unprecedented in the history of humanity.

Hardly.

Three citizens of ancient Athens sought to silence Socrates by accusing him of not worshipping the gods and corrupting the youth. They succeeded in temporarily silencing the ogre-faced philosopher but as pretty much anyone knows, Socrates hasn’t been silent for the last two millennia, while almost no one remembers the names of those three trolls ( Meletus, Anytus, and Lycon, to save you the keystrokes). Silencing those you don’t agree with is hardly anything new.

Neither is trashing those you disagree with.

In Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Friedrich Nietzsche analyzes what he calls the Tarantulas, those trolls of virtue with hidden motives of revenge. In a short, three page chapter, he nails the motives of these trolls, doxxers, whiners, complainers, fuck you-ers, and assorted other ne’er do wells who spend their time spreading hate and poison on various social media sites.

One of the saddest sights of contemporary life for me is when I’m out on my morning run I see all these people sitting on their asses, necks bent, staring at a cellphone. At six o’clock in the morning. Obviously these devices have their benefits (allowing you to read this, for example) but I’m sure ten or twenty years from now these people will feel nothing but resentment for their text necks.

If Rodin were alive, he wouldn’t be sculpting the Thinker, he’d be sculpting the Texter.

Two minutes of hate indeed.

“Revenge rings in all their complaints, a malevolence is in all their praise; and to be judge seems bliss to them.”

Anyways, back to the Tarantulas. What motivates someone to Twitter away their life? “We shall practice revenge and outrage against all who are not as we are.” Sounds familiar. “That the world may become full of storms of our revenge, let precisely that be called justice by us.” Really sounds familiar. Nietzsche says this motivation comes from the tyrant madness of impotence, disguising itself in words of virtue. Ah, yes, virtue signaling. “Soured self-conceit, repressed envy, perhaps your fathers’ self-conceit and envy; they burst from you as a flame and madness of revenge.” Justice, social justice, political correctness, inclusivity, equality, intersectionality, cries of oppression, victimization, me too, you too, this life matters, that life matters…the tyrant madness of impotence screams in 280 characters for any or some or all of these, driven by envy and resentment and the desire for revenge against the world, the people you don’t like, your father, your mother, your kindergarten teacher, your math professor, the president, the one percent, conservatives, liberals, blah blah blah.

According to Nietzsche, it is not the heart that inspires the Tarantulas, sitting in their caves (or basements) with their backs turned on life, it’s the need for revenge, refined by cold envy. “Revenge rings in all their complaints, a malevolence is in all their praise; and to be judge seems bliss to them.” It’s giddy to have a soul full of hatred and the desire for inflicting punishment on those you don’t agree with.

Let us divinely struggle against one another!”

Life is not a flattening out into the ruins of mass herd think and equality of performance and outcomes. Life is struggle and suffering and inequality and winners and losers, highs and lows, but life always struggles to overcome itself, to raise itself up to the heights. As we should. And the Tarantulas want to tear it all down in the name of “justice,” or “equality,” or any other word that really just masks the desire for power, punishment and revenge. “Let us divinely struggle against one another!”

Look up from the screen and engage in life, dance and laugh without envy, resentment, and the desire for revenge. Don’t feed the media and advertising hacks with your clicks.

Don’t be a Tarantula. Thus Spoke Zarathustra.

Writing. Literature. Philosophy. Culture. Ph.D. U of Arizona.

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