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What came first? The Internet or the cannibal?

by Archives October 30, 2007

Armin Meiwes admitted in court to having childhood fantasies of eating his school chums. At 41, the German computer technician’s dream came true when he met willing victim Bernd-Jurgen Brandes, who drove up from Berlin two hours north to Meiwes’ country estate for a special dinner date. The victim’s altered will and testament, plus video evidence, proved that Brandes volunteered his flesh and life to Meiwes, after an Internet handshake with the stranger to seal the deal.
Looking for a young, well-built man who wants to be eaten. Meiwes claims he had over 400 responses.
According to court transcripts, Brandes swallowed 20 sleeping tablets, half a bottle of Schnapps and was then castrated by his new friend. Meiwes read a Star Trek novel while Brandes bled to death in the bathtub. Over the next couple of weeks, Meiews flambéed frozen pieces of the body with olive oil and garlic.
After two trials, a manslaughter conviction was overturned in 2006, and Meiwes was sentenced to life in prison. The case has since inspired a franchise of enrtertainment including songs from Rammstein and the electronic “Cannibal Anthem” by German group Wumpscut. A fictionalized American film called Butterfly: A Grimm Love Story, starring Felicity’s Keri Russell, won four awards at the international Festival de Cine de Sitges in Spain.
This story is perhaps sensational. While I have yet to encounter a cannibal online, I have been noticing a hefty handful of creepy trends on the Internet. Could you pick out your top three disturbing web trends? Here are three of mine:

The new American dream:

#1 get naked, then rich!

In the 70’s, Deep Throat was coming to a theatre near you. The 1980s brought videos of mulleted studs making it with coked-out starlets into our homes.
These days, social networking sites like Facebook are smothered with ads promising top porn dollars for all “models,” from stay-at-home moms to students, working from the “privacy” of your own living room. Do the new porn superstars realize the Internet is a permanent record with various websites acting as archives?
This kind of stuff makes me feel uneasy and foreshadows some disturbing future trends. I am just one opinion though. All of these websites, and their creative uses, exist and attract attention for a reason.
What scares you?

#2 Bullies behind their computer monitors in the dark

I’m not scared of that wimp Big Brother anymore. I am scared of my neighbour, co-workers, and even family members – anybody armed with a cell phone and uploading.
People have become detectives and vigilantes, posting shaming observances and fostering a budding trend known as the snitch website.
Did you scoop up after your dog? Are you driving recklessly? Did you suck in bed with that one night stand? Websites like Don’tDateHimGirl.com and The SnoopNext Door.com are becoming hotter than reality TV.
The Wall Street Journal recently published an article about a man who hit a parked bike with his car. Aerial shots of the man’s house, address and cell phone number were published online and he received death threats from strangers.

#3 There is a market
for everything!

Rick Flynn is a sculptor in
Atlanta and spends a lot of time with doctors and health care professionals, as his longtime partner is a prominent doctor in the area. In fact, he was working at the Atlanta clinic that officially cared for the first HIV-infected patient in the U.S.
Talking with Rick recently, he told me about something I’ve never heard of and couldn’t imagine being true, something called bug chasers’: people actively trying to become HIV positive.
Flynn said this is a growing movement of men, young and old, who want HIV “to get it over with, and can then #%*& as much as they want to without fear hanging over their head.” Sadly, the proof is on the web as bug chasers’ blatantly advertise for this service.
A storm of controversy erupted in mainstream media when Rolling Stone published an article in 2003 by Gregory Freeman entitled “Bug Chasers: The Men who long to be HIV+.” This shocking behaviour appeared to be common in sex clubs, where men would advertise their status with tattoos on their on arms and stomachs, negative looking for positive.
Acclaimed author and researcher, Richard Tewksbury of the University of Louisville, Kentucky, shows in published articles and books that bug chasing has moved out of underground clubs to the easy access of the Internet.

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