Re: Is Suicide Contagious? A Case Study in Applied Memetics ( Long Draft)

From: Kenneth Van Oost (
Date: Sat Apr 21 2001 - 22:05:48 BST

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    Subject: Re: Is Suicide Contagious? A Case Study in Applied Memetics ( Long Draft)
    Date: Sat, 21 Apr 2001 23:05:48 +0200
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    Hi Vincent, you wrote
    > I saw a TV series a while ago about cannibalism in the animal world. One
    > example was of a mouse who ate its offspring, after a cat uncovered the
    > mouse's burrow (is that the right word?).

    << Yes, you are right, here. I got the same information somewhere hidden
    in my writings. In a sense you can compare what the mouse did and what
    the people did in those cases I mentioned.

    Anyway, back to your own hobby horse, is that the right expression !?
    > The later point about the media as a trigger, or as Robin mentioned, as a
    > kind of tipping point, I still think is problematic. Not necessarily in
    > sense that it's incorrect, but more in the sense- of well what do we do
    > about it if this is true? Now, personally speaking, as a libertarian I
    > real problems
    > with this because it inherently limits freedom of speech, and won't impact
    > on rates of these kind of behaviours ( in the same way that death
    > do nothing to crime statistics- well apart from adding state-sanctioned
    > murder to those lists...).

    << I thought it might be problematic for you, so I wish to comment
    further on this subject in order to straiten things out.
    But first, have you read my post to Wade, what do you think !?

    Of course, to ban the media is absurd, but IMO it needs to charge
    itself with a deonthological code.
    Let me explain my point of view.
    Media ( TV here), is devited in two forms of entertainment, one, those
    programs which come to meet the public wishes. Nowadays these
    are programs like Call 911 and Amazing Video's. Somewhat sensa-
    tion-seeking TV programs.
    The second category are those more intellectual programs, human-
    interest- programs, made for the likely buiseness man, the sales mana-
    gers,... most of the time also distributed at a later hour.
    Here IMO you already see an interest- contrast.

    The first category seeks out the rapid, the quick light consumering
    reports, not mush of info, but more sensations, the explicit images, no
    The second category seeks it deeper, more info, more specifications,
    it goes further than the images, it shows somewhat the consequences.

    Both categories are, and for the second unfortunely, bound to ratings,
    bound to commercials, to advertising. We are customers, we pay for
    what we like to see. The program- makers make what the ratings
    figures tells them.
    But, media as a whole has also a role to play in society and can easily
    make or break it and therefor IMO it is its duty to inform in all the ways
    possible and therefor it needs IMO not to warn people not to commit
    suicide, but to tell people where they can actually turn to when things
    might go wrong.

    But, and that is IMO the problem, in both ways, that is by the common-
    sensation- seeking program the people who watch these shows don 't
    really care what the subject is ( it is entertainment, they like to watch
    if they don 't recognize anyone), so additional info is a waste of time.
    And IMO, most of those viewers don 't understand the problamtic
    nature of subjects like suicide, incest, murder and adultery anyway, so
    why bother !?
    In the other way people seem to see human- interest programs more
    as moralizing sermons, suicide is forbidden, incest is taboo, murder can 't
    be done and adultery gets punished. Such crap is American- style but
    holds a possible solution in itself.

    Wouldn 't it be better to make soaps wherein the problematic nature
    of any kind of subject is well explained !?
    I mean, showing a suicide to get more viewers is one thing but trying
    to get the public understand why is another. IMO, you can do that
    within the context of the soap. Maybe an idea for program- makers !?
    You can first, make more episodes and second you reach out to those
    who are/ were devoid from info. And more important, you learn...
    you memetically engineer people to see/ watch out for the points which
    make up a suicidal process. But this must be done in a not moralizing
    sermon- way. Program- makers ought to be even more subtle and
    inventive than they are today. ( Reality TV within the context of soaps).

    Anyway, such a solution depends on what TV channel is it, the IKON
    in the Netherlands, a catholic channel, wouldn 't be keen to give adresses
    of hospitals where you can have a penis- enlargement.
    Also, they could explain it within a Christian context where having children
    is important. To get the necessary tools for it....go to....
    Anyway, media IMO should inform people in need, should allow people
    to have plenty to say about themselves and should stimulate people to
    care for themselves. For this you need to give people information and
    the right information and that is something what the media don 't always
    does and if she does it, she don 't reach the people she must.

    As long you will have certain distinctions within society you will have
    the distinction within the media, but it is up to the media itself to see
    trough and above the ratings. On the other hand, the public itself here
    is wrong in seeing the media as the guilty part. The public ought to look,
    to learn about the problematic natures of certain subject presented on
    TV, but they only seek a hour of entertainment. You can 't blame them
    for that, but IMO that says more about the public than it says something
    about the media. Media, IMO has to stop to run after the desires of the
    public, but that could be in itself a vicious circle....



    ( I am, because we are) luckely not a media effect

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