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European youth gangs have taken to hurting or humiliating victims and then sharing their deeds through photos or videos grabbed on Internet-enabled recorders such as cell phones. This nihilistic trend, dubbed “happy slapping” is reminiscent of the 1971 film noir “A Clockwork Orange.” Happy slapping has been documented in Europe for a year but I just read about it in a news story. Will it be copied elsewhere? And what does this tell us about modern culture?

I found a link that corroborated the happy slapping trend at Smart Mobs.com, the site dedicated to Howard Rheingold’s book about the positive uses of mobile media.

I reallly shouldn’t be surprised to find that there are sick mobs as well. Just as the eyes are the windows to the soul, media is the window into the soul of a society. There is bad and good in each of us and this split is only magnified in a nation or a generation. But when we regularly choose to ingest scenes of violence or depravity — so common as to be the bread and butter of blockbuster films, popular television and video games — do we push ourselves and a tiny fraction of vulnerable minds toward the dark side?

I’m sorry to begin a Monday like this but I haven’t felt this moralistic since I wrote Spurt City in disgust at that depraved cartoon movie starring Bruce Willis.

Tom Abate
‘Cause if you ain’t Mass Media, you’re Mini Media