By Matt Keppel
The first rule of Project Mayhem is: “You do not talk about Project Mayhem.”
The second rule of Project Mayhem is: “YOU DO NOT TALK ABOUT PROJECT MAYHEM!”
So, here we are. We haven’t spoken about it. We’ve let it grow into something entirely autonomous. It grew from our homes, offices, and computers. It came from the dark, damp basements of our hearts and minds. It drove us deeper and deeper into voluntary anonymity; each member sloughing off his or her humanity in favor of the walls that protect us from the monster we built. Worst of all, we have allowed it to explode into our streets, shattering the lives of those around us.
We find ourselves sitting behind our twitter, facebook, and instagrams following the news reports from those “on the ground” — each of them giving us their spin. We watch situations that, in many cases, have been in the making for many years (some, centuries). We keep an eye on these situations to stay informed, keeping up with current events. It seems as though it is more a form of entertainment than a point of sympathy. A way of saying, “Wow some places in the world are really in bad shape, glad it’s not my home.” Frankly, this is the easy way. There’s no mess involved here! There’s no way to transfer the violence, chaos, and dirt through social media. Incidentally, the complications and history surrounding events are also difficult to transmit through the media. What we are left with, then, is a sterilized, sensationalized, and stigmatized story that leaves us unable to empathize.
Thanks to our Project Mayhem we believe that we have protected ourselves from the outside world, when in reality we have simply become isolated. Through beliefs, ideologies, discriminations, and prejudices we have systematically dehumanized those around us, and in the process, also dehumanized ourselves. When we watch the events transpiring these days, we ask ourselves, “How can such atrocities exist in the world?” Yet, it is by our own doing that these travesties occur. No one is safe from this blame. We all shoulder it. No matter who we are – Black, Hispanic, Arab, Indo-European, Native American, or East Asian – we are all responsible for this brokenness. That which differentiates us has bred distrust and disdain for the other. As long as we continue to buy into Project Mayhem, though our worlds grow closer together, the cycle will continue to pull us farther apart.
This societal enterprise will continue to roll along unimpeded if we continue to stand behind the anonymity of our computers and phones. Our world will continue to be defined by masked police officers facing off against protesters, both sides equally terrified of the possibilities — the growing likelihood of being another face flashed across the internet. “In death, a member of Project Mayhem has a name;” though maybe, one day, it will be through the death of Project Mayhem that we gain our names. For now, in St. Louis, his name is Michael Brown.