Social media is a thing. New and unknowable, undulating and vibrant, full of hashtags, outrage and people who keep fucking up on it so hard they get fired. Here's an attempt to index man's descent into digital madness.
Always so fascinating to unfold and unpick the series of disastrous thoughts and ideas that go into one pure moment of crystalline idiocy, isn't it? Like: how does the idea 'maybe it would be funny to pretend to behead our Asian colleague with a coathanger and put the resulting video on Instagram' become an actual video on Instagram? How do four men end up in the back room of a go-kart track wearing balaclavas and throat-screaming "allahu akbar"?
The human mind is fascinating, the human mind is beautiful. The human mind is capable of idiocy not yet seen in this universe nor under this yellow sun. Because this is what social media has done: social media has taken the caps off the speedometer, deregulating how quickly we can go from zero to dumb, and then just swapped the car for a space rocket anyway and fired us down the fucking Autobahn.
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Consider, then, yesterday's Sun EXCLUSIVE, in which four HSBC workers assembled in ISIS-chic fireproofs and balaclavas after a fun, HSBC-funded bonding day at a go-kart track. What do you do after you go go-karting? I personally go outside to huff fresh air so I am not sick on petrol fumes, then watch as the people who are actually good at go-karting stand on an impromptu podium and hollowly celebrate, while someone's mum who only went around the track to make up the numbers asks me, "No seriously, how did it take you 56 seconds to do one lap of the track? The second slowest time was 38 seconds, and that's when my engine fell out and I had to Fred Flintstone it. I know your life's a shitshow mate but even for you this is inept."
But that's because I'm not these guys, who knelt their colleague Saf Ahmed down and faux-executed him with a coathanger while shouting "allahu akbar". "Wahey," they probably believe the correct response to this is. "Top bank-ter."
Thing is, five people thought this was a good idea. One person had to go, "Ey, lads: these fireproofs look a bit terrorist-y, don't they?" Quiet laughter, a tittered ripple. "Ey," that one person is saying again, "right, get my Samsung out the pockets of my jeans. I've had an idea." He's getting louder now. "Right," he's saying, "right: wouldn't it be good to pretend to behead Saf, only using a coathanger as a pretend knife?" They are warming to the idea now, the sun rising slowly over the hills of their imagination. "That'll show ISIS, won't it?" They do want to show ISIS, they all agree, they do want to stick it to the multi-national terrorist cabal.
"Kneel down, Saf. Right, Saf: look sad, like you're about to be beheaded." And then four men assemble behind him, in balaclavas, record the whole thing and review the footage, and look at it and think: 'Yeah, this is an OK thing. Post the fucker on Instagram.'
It's not even the supposed outrage that gets to me, because, as the Sun report, all six of the men involved were sacked. ("We do not tolerate inappropriate behaviour," HSBC said in a statement. "As soon as the Sun brought this video to our attention we took the decision to sack the individuals involved.") Whatever, I am tired of being outraged at stuff every minute of every day. Point is: it's just so exceptionally dumb it makes me wonder how humans ever evolved to the point we did. Like: to have reached this point we first had to invent plastic and electricity and the car and the internet. This Instagram image was beamed up into space and pinged back off some satellites we shot up there and then social media posts about it were sent round the world in probably two dozen different languages. As a species we have had to achieve the extraordinary for this to happen.
But then, on a go-kart track in Birmingham, six men are able to act so collectively dumb that they actively drag the human race back a couple of spaces on the evolutionary game board. This is so stupid it might actively impact upon the intelligence of the rest of us. This is so stupid Stephen Hawking just forgot maths.
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Maybe this is the core truth at the core of all of this: we're all idiots, and we're all one neuron misfire away from getting canned for misjudging the political climate and engaging in some post-go-kart ISIS banter-gone-awry. Social media will, if current trends continue, eventually lose every single person in Britain – at one time or another – their job. And on that basis: free The HSBC Six, to be honest with you. They are simple sacrificial lambs to the fate of the gods that await us all. We are sure this column will be back very soon.
This article was edited at 5.30PM on Tuesday, 7th July to reflect that the men in question were not "bankers" per se, even if they were formerly employees of a bank.
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