The Shooter’s Manifesto Was Designed to Troll

Taylor Lorenz on the horrific mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. 

In the hours after the horrific mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, people desperately searched the internet for any sign of a motive or meaning behind the attack. Early Friday, a number of unverified social-media posts surfaced, along with a bizarre manifesto posted to 8chan, rich with irony and references to memes.

Together, the posts suggest that every aspect of the shootings was designed to gain maximum attention online, in part by baiting the media. The shooter live-streamed the attack itself on Facebook, and the video was quickly shared across YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram. Before committing the act, he shouted, “Remember, lads, subscribe to PewDiePie,” a reference to Felix Kjellberg, who runs YouTube’s most subscribed-to channel. The phrase itself is a meme started by PewDiePie’s fans, and its goal is to be reprinted.

The violent rhetoric was written for an audience.

Significant portions of the manifesto appear to be an elaborate troll, written to prey on the mainstream media’s worst tendencies. As the journalist Robert Evans noted, “This manifesto is a trap … laid for journalists searching for the meaning behind this horrific crime. There is truth in there, and valuable clues to the shooter’s radicalization, but it is buried beneath a great deal of, for lack of a better word, ‘shitposting.’”

Shitposting is a slang term used to describe the act of posting trollish and usually ironic content designed to derail a conversation or elicit a strong reaction from people who aren’t in on the joke.

SOURCE: The Atlantic

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