Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Stand Alone Complex #1


Alright, first of all I would like to clarify that this is in no way my idea, in fact several people have started to recognize that this theory applies well to a very interesting group. Now it should also be pointed out that the standalone complex is not considered a real theory, its just something peeled from an anime / manga. But as the internet evolves I become increasingly interested in a real life counterpart for the Stand Alone Complex. As of yet, I haven't found a theory that offers a similar take on real life events, so if we're lucky, Ghost in the Shell may very well have come up with its own philosophical theory, and it may very well have been right. For those not sure what the theory is:

While originally intended to "underscore the dilemmas and concerns that people would face if they relied too heavily on the new communications infrastructure," Stand Alone Complex eventually came to represent a phenomenon where unrelated, yet very similar actions of individuals create a seemingly concerted effort.

A Stand Alone Complex can be compared to the emergent copycat behavior that often occurs after incidents such as serial murders or terrorist attacks. An incident catches the public's attention and certain types of people "get on the bandwagon", so to speak. It is particularly apparent when the incident appears to be the result of well-known political or religious beliefs, but it can also occur in response to intense media attention. For example, a mere fire, no matter the number of deaths, is just a garden variety tragedy. However, if the right kind of people begin to believe it was arson, caused by deliberate action, the threat that more arsons will be committed increases drastically.

What separates the Stand Alone Complex from normal copycat behavior is that the originator of the copied action is not even a real person, but merely a rumored figure that commits said action. Even without instruction or leadership a certain type of person will spring into action to imitate the rumored action and move toward the same goal even if only subconsciously. The result is an epidemic of copied behavior-with no originator. One could say that the Stand Alone Complex is mass hysteria-with purpose.

(Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghost_in_the_Shell_(philosophy)#Stand_Alone_Complex)

But more to the point, I would like to speak about real life instances of this supposed Stand Alone Complex. And they are coming from a very interesting source, the Internet. It would seem that as soon as you couple anonymity with a media format in which no human being is present, what seems to occur is what essentially amounts to a meme. That meme that continues on even spilling over into the real world, without the original owner ever being known

A perfect example of this is the Rickroll, the original creator of the RickRoll will never be known, and might as well have never existed. But the fact of the matter is that it is now spreading into the real world, the RickRoll has appeared just about everywhere: National sporting events, Local School Events, etc. All of them orchestrated by individuals who have no other connections to the original than having watched the video.

I would like to continue this later on, with relation to the *chan's, the attacks on Scientology, Digg, and Slashdot, all have created instances of the Stand Alone complex and should prove an interesting investigation.

Till Later,

1 comment:

aces said...

"the original creator of the RickRoll ... might as well have never existed."

This may sound confusing to most people because there must always be a creator for something. But I think what this means is that the supposed creator of RickRoll did not supposed it to be called RickRoll, and it may even be something that was made out of accident or something that the he did not intend to be interpreted as what it is now considered as. I think that's what the standaloone complex is about. There are copies, but an original may not actually existed at all. For example, if it's a popular prank, the original creator of it did not even intend it to be a prank at all.