I matured during the Internets golden age, where it was mostly a platform for communication and learning resources, before it became overcome with the consumeristic tendencies that we witness today. The Internet as an educational tool is still a very prominent platform for the younger generations. As a youngster mildly disheartened with schooling, a lot of what I learnt in my formative years I taught myself with the aid of the Internet. This had both its positive points, but also its negative points. The time of my learning was before the infamous rise of the blogger, so the Internet was not filled with pseudo-intellectual writings backed by fictional references. A time where my naivety led me to believe the Internet possessed all the answers that I needed in life.
I threw myself into the Internets darkest corners, eager to consume everything it could teach. Unfortunately I found the darkest corners of the Internet do not possess any form or level of enlightenment, more that they attract people who inhabit these corners in the real world. That is where I encountered the video that desensitized myself to violence as well as potentially many others (If they had not already been desensitized by Call of Duty). It was a video that briefly made an appearance on Facebook newsfeeds across the country for a harrowing day until it was hastily removed and buried to the depths of LiveLeaks. The video itself had a very enticingly ominous starting still of a woman on her knees staring blankly, into the camera in front of her. Along with a Spanish description that many and myself overlooked when originally seeing the video.
When translated into English the description was along the lines of “crack whore steals drugs and is punished by being beheaded by cartel.” Not being well versed in Spanish at the time, I chose to negate translating the description and dive straight into the video. The video began comfortably enough with elongated shots of a placid woman, whom, after 15-seconds of watching gave the impression that she was intoxicated to the point of an overdose, with her previously perceived ominous face giving way to one of rolling eyes and dilated pupils. This in itself was mildly disconcerting, but was nothing compared to the horror that was yet to unfold. At around the 30-second mark a masked man enters the scene this evokes a terrible response in the inebriated woman, who at the masked mans arrival had begun shaking violently in an attempt to activate and move her drug-weighted limbs. Still unsure of the events set to unfold in the video and brought about by the distressed struggles of the woman, a knot began to form deep in the realms of my stomach. At this point, around the 45-second mark the masked man brought forth what appeared to be a butter knife, taking it from his pocket and waving it chauvinistically in front of the camera. This is the point where the video descended into the depths of hell.
Still waving the butter knife through the air he stepped towards the inebriated woman, walking beyond her, he positioned himself directly behind, whilst making certain that the pair were both in full view of the camera. After a short pause whilst the camera frame was minutely adjusted, as to best capture the moment, the masked man began. The only analogy I could make towards the tumultuous events unfolding in front of me was it appeared to be the equivalent of trying to consume a over-done steak with a plastic knife and fork. Very early into the hacking the woman, realising that her demise was at hand allowed the inebriation to take hold of her slipping into a bedraggled stupor, quickly escaping the brutal decapitation occurring to her body in reality.
Her death did not stop the masked man who proceeded very haphazardly to cut all the way around her neck repeatedly, getting the knife deeper into the now gaping cavity with each revolution. This process continued for roughly 1 minute during which time the original knot that had begun developing in my stomach had evolved into a Gordain knot and my legs had turned to jelly so profusely that just glancing at my feet gave me a sense that they could belong to another entity altogether. Despite these dreadful sensations erupting inside me, I could not prevent myself from continuing to watch, with the worst yet to come.
The key aspect of a beheading is the removal of ones head from ones body, to achieve this your head has to be severed from one of the sturdiest bones in the body, the spinal cord. I’m sure you can guess that attempting to do this with a butter knife is quite the challenge. The masked man, determined to complete his task, thrust the butter knife up against her now visible spinal cord in a sideways fashion before wrenching her head sharply forwards. This led to one of the most disturbing sounds I have ever audibly experienced and led to a yelp of discomfort forcing its way out of my now set in stone facial expression. With the woman’s head now separated from her body there were cheers from behind the camera as well as laughter and undecipherable Spanish phrases, with the masked man revelling in the limelight holding the woman’s head high into the air. At this point the video abruptly ended, leaving me on the verge of anaphylactic shock, grasping at my stomach, attempting to keep the rapidly untangling Gordian knot from escaping.
Since viewing this video I have been left completely desensitised to any forms of blood or violence, even when spectated in real life. At times this can be useful, but it does leave me feeling disturbed about how easy it can be for the Internet to butcher peoples emotions and have effects upon their perceptions away from the digital world.