Popular Articles

Find Your Letter

If my letter, the letter to which I am connected, is not there, or is incomplete, or faded, or blurred, the entire Torah is incomplete.

Read More »

How Lockdown Can Lead to Hate

The internet has become a virtual island where youth are trapped – frustrated, bored, starved for excitement

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Share on print

Click an icon above to share, email, or save this article

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Share on print

Click an icon above to share, email, or save this article

If hate was a gun-toting killer, the internet would be its aider and abettor – providing the conspiracy-laden manifestos, the virtual hangout spaces where people congregate, the Petri dish where antisemitism flourishes and replicates. As someone whose job is to monitor hate and educate others to the threat posed by neo-Nazis, I worry that the COVID-19 crisis will lead to more real-life violence targeted at our community.

It seems like a paradox – how can a lockdown lead to violence? I’ll explain.

During this pandemic, our internet connection has become a lifeline, keeping us wired into the outside world. With schools and summer camps slotted to remain closed, web-based social platforms have become the leading babysitter and main form of entertainment for millions of teenagers stuck at home with not much to do.

It would be overly simplistic to say that within every social network loom nefarious figures, ready to corrupt and indoctrinate impressionable youth. Yes, such recruiters do exist. White supremacist website Daily Stormer’s founder Andrew Anglin purposely ensured that his site contained plenty of juvenile humour and antisemitic tropes targeting children as young as 11 for radicalization. And there is no denying that trained ISIS predators, thousands of miles away, have groomed scores of Western teens into embracing jihad and becoming “cubs of the caliphate”.

But the answer can be far more mundane:

Boredom.

It’s a shockingly simple explanation for the rise in antisemitic comments and cartoons circulating on social media platforms, geared at a younger audience. While it does not negate the reality of extremists who use social platforms to recruit followers, the desensitizing influence of the wrong peers cannot be understated – particularly if those peers find it funny to mock the Holocaust, or couch their praising-Hitler memes as an act of rebellion against political correctness.

When parents talk to their kids about “stranger danger” online, the conversation usually centers on preventing sexual exploitation or cyberbullying – don’t give anyone your address, don’t send nude selfies, don’t be intimidated by bullies. This concept of “stranger danger” typically doesn’t include seemingly innocuous apps such as TikTok, which allows users to produce short, fun videos on their phones, and which has led to a proliferation of antisemitic content disguised as “edgy” humour. It doesn’t include 8chan, Telegram, Discord, Finsta, Kik, Smule and other “trendy” apps being marketed to youth, or the sites proliferating on the dark web, as easily accessible as a Tor download.

More than two decades have passed since I was a teenager, but I still remember the appeal of laughing at crude jokes, being wowed by my rebellious friends, and being oblivious to the permanence of my actions. The eagerness to impress new peers and stand out in a crowd, vying for Likes and laughs, looking for friendship and followers in the cybersphere – are all vulnerabilities that can make an impressionable youth think that the road to internet popularity is paved with offensive and racist quips.

Get thej.ca a Pro Israel Voice by Email. Never miss a top story that effects you, your family & your community

Seventy-five years have passed since the horror of the Holocaust. Survivors are dying off, and 59% of American Millennials cannot recall the name of a single concentration camp. Having never faced war or mass suffering, some among younger generations – whose families were never impacted by genocide – see the Holocaust as an abstract concept, worth sacrificing for a laugh or a retweet. The more shocking the meme, the more eyeballs it’ll get, and the higher one’s “street cred” as a “shitposter.”

As the frequency of antisemitic “jokes” rises, so does the normalization of bigotry. Most purveyors of racist content are happy enough to troll online, and don’t escalate to committing physical violence. But for the troubled few who are friendless, angry and alienated, and in search for a scapegoat to their problems, such incendiary comments and cartoons can have consequences that spill into real life: vandalizing places of worship, harassing or even attacking members of religious or ethnic minorities.

My fear is that a combination of factors – a prolonged period of lockdown, the lack of summer school and extracurricular activities, coupled with exasperated parents who allow their kids’ cell phones and tablets to act as unsupervised babysitters – will lead some teenagers down a rabbit hole of propaganda and warped ideology where Jews, once again, will become targets of hatred.

The internet has become a virtual island where youth, like the castaways in William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, are trapped – frustrated, bored, starved for excitement. Surrounding them is a vast ocean of ideas that appeal to the darker aspects of human instinct – fear, hate, jealousy, the desire to stand out and be noticed, to feel significant. And just like in Lord of the Flies, the delicate balance between humanity and savagery rests in the power to resist groupthink influence and rely on one’s own moral compass.

Unfortunately for all of us, this delicate line has become increasingly blurred.

Elisa Hategan is an author, public speaker, journalist and TheJ.ca columnist. Her memoir, Race Traitor: The True Story Of Canadian Intelligence’s Greatest Cover-Up, was published in 2014. She is a TheJ.ca columnist

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Share on print

Click an icon above to share, email, or save this article

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Share on print

Click an icon above to share, email, or save this article

Read More

Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

We thank you for your ongoing support.

Happy reading!

Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

We thank you for your ongoing support.

Happy reading!

cOMING SOON…….

Breaking News

Recent

Features

News

Current Events

Opinions

Politics

Religion

Culture

Memoriam and Obituaries

PodcastS

Terms and Conditions

Privacy Policy

About Us

Advertise with us

contact 

Subscribe Now

Receive the latest in community & international Jewish news direct to your inbox

© 2020 THEJ.CA, All Rights Reserved

Terms and Conditions

Privacy Policy

About Us

Advertise with us

contact 

Subscribe Now

Receive the latest in community & international Jewish news direct to your inbox

© 2020 THEJ.CA, All Rights Reserved

Subscribe Now

Receive the latest in community & international Jewish news direct to your inbox

Terms and Conditions

Privacy Policy

About Us

Advertise with us

contact 

© 2020 THEJ.CA, All Rights Reserved

Previous
Next