Nikki Catsouras’s death The strategy of exiting through the forum of a relationship is as old as the Greek tragedies, but now that it is so easy to run the body, ghosting has become a low-risk sport. Not so other practices that hide behind false nicknames and profiles and that require thinking about care.
Aeneas, torn news unsuspecting the noble Dido, lucubrate means to flee. She orders her men to stealthily rig up the squad and meet on the beach, to keep their weapons and hide the cause of those movements, while she looks for the most propitious way to get out of that trance as best as possible. This is how Virgilio presents one of the first ghosting of our culture. The Trojan hero, who was living a raging passion with Dido, the queen of Carthage, decides to abandon her and go with his army. But he does not want to explain or say goodbye to her.
Ghost refers to the abrupt end of a sex-affective relationship without giving explanations, becoming a ghost. It always existed, but sometimes it is expensive. Dido discovered the preparations for the escape and made a scene. She was writhing inside but the hero didn’t budge. As she walked away from her on the boat she looked back and saw a black column of smoke. The queen had committed suicide, from the shore the flames of her mortuary pyre flickered.
Today -digitality through- the process is more agile. Become a ghost and something else. Currents of opinion have been created on the ethics of remote relationships.
Well, virtuality and its risks increased exponentially with the pandemic. There are sectors that claim emotional responsibility, there are others that justify the practice. Painful for the one who receives the rudeness. Although the controversy is sterile as long as the power relations between the genders are not balanced. Ghosting, Grooming, and Fishing are patriarchal cyberspace resources that intensify the disposable status that the prophets of hatred bestow on sexual minorities.
And grooming? Virtual sexual harassment is carried out by men against minors of both sexes and preferably young women. During the first phase of the quarantine, there were female athletes who had to suspend their training in front of cameras due to the grooming of which they were victims. Not to mention childhood stalked by cyberbullying. Virtual abuse usually takes place in person through deception and lures. And due to a perverse twisting of the aggressors, what was caught on the internet returns to its source. A video was leaked in a university class in which a girl is tortured and raped.
This is the Fishing or use of social networks to impersonate another person and obtain sexual or business information for extortionate purposes on specific financial or sexual victims. Digital paraphilics display fishermen’s resources and find those who bite the bait. How are ghosting, grooming, and fishing encouraged and supported?
In anonymity, violence, and hatred. Anonymity by concealing identity grants immunity. Violence uses force to dominate and impose. Hatred causes harm and suffering. This triad is part of virtual pandemics. In the technological age “vomiting hate” acquired universal status: hating. Attack with offensive comments by remote means. These virtual phenomena revealed an involution in the evolution of the species: serial haters.
Masked assaults lacking critical thinking. Pyrotechnics of insults, ad hominem arguments, disqualification, and trash. The impossible debate, the hyperbolic denial. Now, if grooming and fishing are Nikki’s Instagram undoubtedly patriarchal, hating (like machismo) has no gender.
The caramel-colored scene shows the Catsouras family. Mother, father, three teenage daughters. There were four of them, but Nikki, the eighteen, got into the car one day in a daze, crashed into a bridge, died. Nikki Catsouras’s death was a trending topic almost 15 years ago.
They handed over the closed drawer. The family inquired about the condition of the body. Only one finger of the hand had deteriorated, they said to ease the burden. But an e-mail came in whose subject said “Look, dad, I’m alive!” Opening it revealed the image of Nikki’s shattered body.
To whatever virtual space they went they would find photos of the head of her bleeding daughter almost detached from her body. They went viral from police cell phones. Faced with the barrage of macabre messages and photos, the family disconnected from the internet, filed lawsuits, appealed to a thousand resources, but those images continue to appear in the most unexpected places. The hatred and the morbid.
“The Internet is the antichrist,” says Nikki’s mother in Herzog’s documentary on connectivity. It happened in 2006, but attempts to erase the horror, in addition to being futile, produced the “Streisand effect”: by repudiating a digital event, it is spread to infinity.
There are micromilitances against these toxic customs, there are laws that limit them, groups that fight them. And personally? Take care of yourself and take care of yourself. Develop self-practices. Implement technologies while preserving. An ethic of caring for oneself implies an ethic of caring for other people, it implies politics.
The speech has materiality. In 1938, Orson Welles radioed an alleged Martian invasion. Panicking crowds, congested traffic, crashed phones, chaos. But they were only words that, in that case, made clear the capacity of the speech to produce real effects, its power.
Discourse is not simply that which translates the struggles or systems of domination, but rather that for which, and through which, the power that we want to seize is fought for. Foucault analyzed the saving or annihilating power of words in relation to power. And, on the other hand, he exhumed an ethic of existence.
Epimeleia heautou means self-care based on community care. It would be necessary to tend to orient solidarity strategies when what is being talked about loses importance and what is important is reduced to insulting, mocking, and humiliating. Imagine ways of thinking about communicational attacks to protect and mitigate damage. Put these new virtual phenomena on the agenda, encompassing otherness, that is, following the Platonic metaphor, how can the eye see itself?