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Culture, Reality

Welcome to Racebook

by Rob Scher / Illustration by Alastair Laird / 11.10.2011

Everyone has ‘that guy’ they went to school with; prone to bursts of aggression, antisocial behaviour in class, and a general disrespect for authority figures. They represent the very beacon of adolescent angst. Jonah Takalua, captured so vividly by the talented Australian comedian Chris Lilley in the show Summer Heights High is a perfect caricature of such an individual. Everyone went to school with a Jonah. Mine was Jack.

Jack and I were on good terms. His sardonic outlook on life was humorous to a 13 year old, whose basic requirement for friendship was making fart sounds with your mouth – something Jack excelled at. Until recently, such a character would fade into your memory to be reminisced over amongst lifelong school friends. The added perspective of age and pop psychology would allow for theories on how they may have turned out – until Facebook.

There’s no longer a need to hypothesise. The world-over people have ‘reconnected’ with past friends. Social convention it would seem, dictates that you add anyone you have ever met. Dare to defy and the social network monolith will recommend daily that you become friends until one buckles under the pressure. Before Facebook, Jack could have remained a quirky memory. Now, along with his 600 friends, I have become an unwilling audience for his digital soapbox and his kak retrogressive views on, well, just about everything.

I had long since “hidden” Jack and his reactionary right wing views. But with the move towards the ominous ‘Facebook Timeline’, my newsfeed once again has became cluttered with updates of all “friends” on the site. Including Jack. And the meta-mini-feed in the corner has become a ticker tape of vitriol as I am assaulted by the most uninformed and bigoted paragraphs fresh from Jack’s mind.


Let’s briefly indulge Jack and his take on the socio-economic situation in our country. Jack chooses to dichotomise our society into two groups – the “haves” and the “have nots”. His argument that the “work hards” must stop supporting the “work nots” is in fact rooted in a previously established school of economic thought. Influential English scholar and political economist, Thomas Malthus was on Jack’s page. Malthus was opposed to ‘poor laws’ adopted in Britain, believing that society was becoming overpopulated. Malthus discouraged supporting the poor, believing that famine and disease act as natural population checks. Jack tends to agree spewing the sentiment on his Facebook, in an attempt to educate “the moronic ‘haves’ who give to the ‘have nots’”. Like Malthus, Jack’s views are outspoken for their time – the difference though – Malthus lived in the 18th Century.

What Facebook has effectively done is provide a window into the arrested development of people like Jack’s minds, the world over. Yes there are the preventative mechanisms that allow for us to “report misuse” but really who gives a shit? What’s most disturbing is not Jack’s mindset – there are plenty people in this country who share his views with varying degrees of bigotry. But that Jack feels bold and comfortable enough to share his views openly on social media, is what astounds me the most. Stripped of his anonymity, he stands out, identifiable, amongst the anonymous trolls, who pollute the News24 comment board with flurries of racist, rightwing vitriol.

And while he received eight “likes” for his nazi-lite babble, the very medium of social media renders his views obsolete. His post, his line in the digital sand, is invariably destined to be just another drop in the endless sea of social media babble spewed out daily – all seeking some kind of response, recognition, return. We live in an information economy. Everyone is vying for a brief moment of your attention. Status updates, blogposts, how many “likes” you get for that picture you posted, the amount of followers you have on Twitter – attention is a commodity. In Malthusian times, Jack would have had to establish himself as a well regarded figure before earning access to as many people as he does now on Facebook. In the 18th Century, if 600 people were listening to you – your opinion would matter. In today’s world, the supply has drastically increased, and demand has shriveled.

And Jack is no Julius Malema.

In fact, in the information economy, Jack is the very hallmark of a “have not”. He is the one standing at the traffic light begging for the attention of the social media “haves”. Along with those who spend hours clogging up bandwidth with their mindless drivel, Jack’s opinion matters about as much as a bitter little cruton floating in an ocean of soup.

*Illustration © Alastair Laird.

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  1. lol says:

    Why do you take idiots so seriously?
    How has this article effected Jack?

    Because I can assure you, people like that don’t care about anyone’s opinion… Especially someone who criticizes them in such a way..

    One simple rule to stop idiots like Jack from pursuing mindless ranting

    Bitching about other people bitching does no one any good!

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  2. Anonymous says:

    ah beautiful irony!

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  3. Anneke says:

    Jack, you devil.

    I like the ending with the soup.

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  4. baby k says:

    i like anneke’s comment

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  5. Tomas says:

    “Welcome to Racebook”?

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  6. grimbozandakomalarebo says:

    Laird’s drawings make my day. Nice job.

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  7. Tim says:

    Yeah Tomas is right.

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  8. Gavy says:

    Parents, aunts, rapists and rascists have all killed facebook.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    Parents, aunts, rapists and rascists have all killed facebook.

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  10. Thato says:

    I liked this.

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  11. Grant W says:

    Ja, Jack is a doos. Nothing that any of us have has any direct correllation to our energy put into acquiring them and all have-nots could be haves if they had a shot. Kak man!

    If I look at Jack’s point of view and the point of view of this article I see two equally idiotic PC and non-PC arguments that I have to add and divide by two to get some form of reality. I am sick of both, truly sick to da green colour of canna get out of bed coz I just don’t care no more SICK. I am sick of bone-headed thugs like Jack that have no concept of how we are a power cut and 3 meals away from a traffic light…each and every one of us, and situations can trump ability and put you on your ass. I am equally sick of blindly liberal fuckwits that pour funds and new buildings and care and simpering Julie Andrews sweety cunty patronising bullshit into situations that need tougher love and proper solutions. You give half of the have nots a milion bucks today and it will be gone tomorrow. Lotto shows that in technicolour. So while SOME have-nots are simply capable people denied of opportunity, others are not capable of taking an opportunity if it grabbed them by the balls and pulled them so fucking far and hard they could be used to slap the fucker in his face. That is why lumping them into one big amorphous mass as both you and Jack have done are equivalent, standard dinner party lines and epic fails in my book.

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  12. Chucky says:

    Grant, hands off Julie Andrews. Seriously, bitch, I’m not fucking joking.

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  13. Grant W says:

    My hands were only one of the things I put on that hot little Austrian mountain climbing yodelling barbie of goodness. Whoooooocha! She may have had a slithering, reptilian dark side my friend but your spank-icon of choice hid it well

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  14. Chucky says:

    Grant, she didn’t hide it from, china, not when she used to write the lyrics of Edelweiss in blood and semen on my stomach. Now stop talking about me Julie or I will break you.

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  15. Grant W says:

    Fuck off you little control freak comment column dictator. You will crack yourself trying to put a scratch me; I am your worst nightmare, I will come at you in waves until you wear down to a mound of fuckall on a beach that does’t care. Go cry to Julie and put on some of her clothes and shove your shivering nose up one of her comforting unshaven armpits.

    Or don’t. Nobody gives a fuck.

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  16. smileyfacedliker says:

    I agree with Jack. Just kidding. But really… Facebook is turning everyone into SMILEY FACED LIKERS! Everything is becoming so sanitized and quite dreary. It’s all giggling youtube videos, enlightening koans or “liking” brands that are dictating what’s cool about us. It’s all so safe, lurking rapists aside. There’s a trend towards anything remotely challenging being frowned upon. I’m not supporting hate speech, but I do support the freedom in sharing opinions, left or right with those that have the choice to tune out if they don’t like what’s being said. You don’t have to read it. Nobody is charging you for the service. To get caught up in a discussion about what this Jack guy was actually saying (to a closed audience initially) is no more than a distraction from the the fact that this article is a personal attack on someone behind their back (to an open audience) because the author is too cowardly to confront them on their views face to face. Weak.

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  17. Chucky says:

    Oop, blushes… Sorry, Grant, totally misread the vibe. I thought you were cool and interesting and articulate, and were just doing the whole seething bit in a kind of ironic way. Turns out you’re just angry and boring. My bad.

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  18. Grant W says:

    I’m just fuckin wit ja little Chucky…dry your eyes.

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  19. Grant W says:

    We should have had a safe word 😉

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  20. cathy says:

    I hate this article & I’m sorry I wasted 5 minutes reading about Jack or who ever the fuck this is written about , it’s just so insignificant

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  21. goofy says:

    This article? Is it much different from Jack’s rant?
    Oh. ooohhh wait, is that a smarmy fight club reference i detect…? “Jack”
    Welcome to the World-of-shit-eating-grinners-book.

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  22. greg peniston says:

    My girlfriend told me last night that my penis was too small. But she has very small breasts. The difference is, though, according to her, my penis is thing that has to “satisfy” her, whereas her breasts don’t “satisfy” me, her vagina does. But all vaginas are essentially the same, so I think that the rest of her has to be suitably attractive – that’s what I get out of sex. Because, let’s be honest, women just mostly lie there and groan. So, what do you think? My penis isn’t that small, by the way. It’s fourteen centimetres and it’s about medium thickness. I think she’s just spoiled herself by using very large dildos which are quite unrealistic. She says she likes the feeling of being “filled up”. I told her to go to a petrol station. Ha ha, that was a joke. She didn’t laugh, though. It’s a metaphor our relationzship.

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  23. YellowElevator says:

    I’m curious as to why there are apostrophes in the first image.

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  24. Lefty says:

    Best of 2011. Seriously?

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