"The internet may appear new and fun, but it's really a porn highway to hell. If your children want to get on the internet,
don't let them. It's only a matter of time before they get sucked into a vortex of shame, drugs, and pornography from which they'll never return. The internet: It's just not worth it."
There's always going to be The New Rock & Roll
, that new fad or thing that causes whippersnappers to act all crazy and wild like they've all gone bonkers. Typically, this is a fringe phenomenon, and political and religious radicals will be bewailing the development while the media just reports on it.
At other times, though, the negative press goes far beyond basic opinions and phenomena that we can document on camera. Speculation goes on that devious things are afoot. When this goes too far, a reporter is at risk of spouting "New media are evil!" Otherwise-rational people faced with uncertainty about what the New Media
is actually like decide that, just to be safe, or to grab some attention, they should go with the most inflammatory, headline-grabbing description they can come up with.
The motivation to demonize
a medium can go much deeper than the desire of the media itself to make headlines. In our giant, pan-corporate world, there's a good chance that some news outlets are owned by a guy who owns a major recording label. All of a sudden HQ's interest in stories about devious pirating activities
becomes quite noticeable. To an audience generally uninformed about what the New Media
is like to begin with, whether or not the story is true is irrelevant: the ring of truth is what becomes important.
Bear in mind that the impression given can largely be due to ignorance, the Cowboy Bebop at His Computer
misstep taken by someone who is already predisposed to distrust this "Cowboy Bebop
" character in the first place.
Take the Internet as an example; though it has come to dominate our lives today, it had a much greater mystique in The Nineties
when it first became mainstream. People taking up professions in the media industry as a career and most of the people involved today still
don't have a full grasp on what the Internet is, so when the assumption is that It's a Small Net After All
, all of a sudden every little instance of graphic pornography or 4chan vandalism ends up speaking for the Internet as a whole. New Media Are Evil decreases a great deal once the industry and society have adjusted to major technological advances and sees them as the norm. In other words, when the Medium stops being New, it stops being Evil.
This is by no means limited to the Internet, although the sheer density
of information we receive today can make it seem that way. Almost every new medium of communication or expression that has appeared since the dawn of history has been accompanied by doomsayers and critics who have confidently predicted that it would bring about The End of the World as We Know It
by weakening the brain or polluting our precious bodily fluids
Sometimes the doomsaying has a kernel of truth. New media do change old media, sometimes for a net loss of quality in art or information. Most often, though, the new medium allows a new freedom from the old medium that makes for more opportunity. This is Older Than They Think
, as you can see from the very first examples.
See also: Murder.com
; Everything Is Online
; There Should Be a Law
; TV Never Lies
; and You Can Panic Now
. The opposite usually ends with Old Media Playing Catch-Up
. When new media develop a similar attitude toward the old boys' club, we see Old Media Are Evil
Don't forget that Old Media was NEW back then.
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- According to accounts recorded by his student Plato, Socrates was hostile toward writing (which, while not exactly new in his time, was still the latest medium to come down the pike). Essentially, Socrates claimed that putting an idea down in written form "killed" it by depriving it of a mind in which to "live", making it worthless. His argument can be found in a dialogue as... written in The Phaedrus (written by Plato, we should note; Socrates left no texts). This, of course, makes this trope Older Than Feudalism.
- Besides that Plato himself, in his specifications for the perfect state, included censorship of poetry in case it introduced subversive ideas.
- Incredibly, some still believe this today, which is why it is illegal to write down (or at least, make publicly available) the lyrics of the Black Metal band Gorgoroth, and some people have been sued by the band for publishing them.
- Something similar, though not quite as old: The Jewish Torah, according to tradition, had two parts to it, the Written and Oral Torah. The Written Torah makes up the first five books of what we know as the Tanach, Hebrew Scriptures, or Old Testament, whereas the Oral Torah eventually became the Mishnah and Talmud. For many centuries there was a strong desire to keep the oral Torah... well, oral. The point was that people were meant to memorize it and so keep it on the tips of their fingers. Writing was well and good for the general tenets, but not the specific details. However, it was recognized that the whole memorization thing wasn't going very well, so the Mishnah (and later, its expansion the Talmud) was formalized in writing in around 200 AD.
- The Roman Empire of the time period systematically hunting down all of the ordained rabbis—the guys who, as their final exam, had to know the entire oral Torah letter-perfect—probably had a lot to do with that.
- An Egyptian Pharaoh protested that the ability to write things down would inevitably result in his subjects' memories atrophying from disuse.
- Early Christians also tried to resist the introduction of punctuation and spaces between words into the Bible, because they thought that not having to parse words and sentences in your head made reading too easy. On a separate note, they also discouraged silent reading as something vaguely demonic.
- Silent reading did not yet exist around this time, because reading was still very much connected to oral performance. And yes, reading in silence is something you have to LEARN to do. Since reading aloud was the norm, reading in silence was considered rather unnatural. Only around the introduction of the printing press would this change.
- St. Ambrose (4th century) once freaked out St. Augustine by demonstrating his ability to read in silence. To quote Augustine, "His eyes scanned the page and his heart sought out the meaning, but his voice was silent and his tongue was still...so that often, when we came to visit him, we found him reading like this in silence, for he never read aloud."
- This is apparently a myth 
- Solon was very displeased upon seeing the formerly all chorus Athenian Theater get actors added to it. He even asked the first actor if he's not ashamed of lying in front of so many people. Some time later, he made a theater reference upon seeing Peisistratos pulling off a Wounded Gazelle Gambit.
- Some medieval Catholic theologians railed against the printing press, declaring it a creation of the devil, mostly because, as it grew widespread, its most popular uses both undercut the Church's authority: the mass production of The Bible in the local language instead of Latin (which broke the Church's monopoly on interpretation of Scripture), and the distribution of the works of Luther and other Protestant reformers (which threatened the Church, period).
- It is interesting to note that the reasons they gave for their opposition to the printing press was its efficiency — it could produce almost perfect copies of any given work... And everyone knows that since perfection isn't human, it must be the devil who's making it possible. (Which of course is theologically silly even if you accept the Insane Troll Logic because the devil isn't perfect either. If the Insane Troll Logic is sound, it must be God who made the printing press.)
- It may come as a surprise, but European musical polyphony is a relatively recent invention, dating back only to the middle ages. It was, of course, immediately viewed by some as fundamentally immoral (because it made it impossible to understand the lyrics), and on those grounds Pope John XXII banned polyphonic music in 1322 — by some accounts simply from liturgical use, by other accounts entirely. Later, after it stopped being new, another pope overturned the ban.
- Of course, it helped having music introduced by de Palestrina and others which was both polyphonic and comprehensible.
- Around the 13th century, Chess was considered a game of the devil, and forks were a devil's instrument. The fork argument makes some sort of sense; it looks like a pitchfork, and the devil loves those. But chess? Some also believed that it encouraged gambling and were offended that it allowed commoners to kill kings.
- It contains forks.note
- The idea that chess encouraged gambling became such a prevalent thought because people used dices to make sure the game went faster, the church found gambling to be a devil's thing.
- In 1254, King Louis IX (the holy one) forbade his siblings to play the game of chess.
- The promotion was also seen as controversial, because it allowed every pawn to be promoted into a queen. At the time people were very christian. Since the queen was the king's wife it would mean that a king could have more than one wife and the idea of even someone being able to have more than one wife was considered to be a perverted thought.
- It also came to Europe from Persia—a Muslim country. (Check Mate is from Sha-Mat, Persian for "the king is dead.")
- As the telegraph began to allow rapid communication across the globe, some newspaper editors complained that it was destroying the art of journalistic writing. Instead of spending days or weeks on a story, reporters had to write quickly while the news was still new.
- The invention of the telephone not only prompted screeds bemoaning the impending death of literacy (because no one would need to write letters anymore), it also prompted widespread panic among law enforcement agencies, who realized that it allowed criminal gangs to conspire and plan crimes without having to meet in person, from the privacy of their own homes. According to some accounts, there were actually a few abortive attempts to outlaw the telephone for this reason (sound familiar?); instead, cooler minds prevailed, and wiretapping was developed instead.
- "The Hacker Crackdown", by Bruce Sterling, goes into great detail about turn-of-the-century anxieties about what the telephone meant for society, and draws a parallel with the early online networks.
- In the film Kinsey, Alfred Kinsey, Sr preaches that it promotes lust, allowing a girl to hear the voice of her suitor on the pillow next to her. Or, of course, phone sex.
- Piano rolls — long scroll-like rolls of paper coded with holes in them for use in player pianos — were the first medium for cheaply making mass-produced "recordings" of music. At the time they were invented, the music industry was composed solely of publishers of sheet music. Predictably, these publishers saw the sales of pre-recorded performances as a major threat to their income, and lobbied the Congress (Parliament/Senate) of the American Union to not only ban piano rolls and player pianos, but to pass a law requiring any new system for music reproduction be subject to a veto from a collective association made up of all the music publishers. Congress didn't give in to their demands and instead created the "mechanical license" system. But not before the 19th-century equivalent of the RIAA trotted John Phillip Sousa before Congress to declare apocalyptically:
These talking machines are going to ruin the artistic development of music in this country. When I was a boy...in front of every house in the summer evenings, you would find young people together singing the songs of the day or old songs. Today you hear these infernal machines going night and day. We will not have a vocal chord left. The vocal chord will be eliminated by a process of evolution, as was the tail of man when he came from the ape
- Not long after Piano rolls came the phonograph, which could record any sound, not just piano music. The musical establishment predictably threw an even bigger fit, fearing that recorded music would drive live musicians to extinction and deny them proper compensation for their work. No one, apparently, realized that musicians would still be needed to record the music, and would become even more in demand as records allowed them to sell their music to more people than ever before.
- Supposedly, there was an initiative in Congress during the early 1900s to ban jazz music because it was "a bad influence".
- Radio: It didn't matter that some European governments strictly regulated their own radio stations (the Irish government banned jazz, with a ludicrously broad definition of what "jazz" was) when Radio Luxembourg could broadcast sinful music all across Europe.
- Also, early BBC announcers couldn't read out the result of sport events until about 7 AM in order not to hurt sales of evening newspapers.
- The idea that the Orson Welles' version of The War of the Worlds genuinely caused panic appears to be a rumour made up by newspapers to discredit radio.
- Certain genres of novels were blamed for corrupting the youth — e.g., suggesting to young women that eloping with mysterious strangers was a good idea.
- This era also produced the most spectacular aversion of this trope, formulated by Wolfgang Riepl in his 1913 work Das Nachrichtenwesen des Altertums mit besonderer Rücksicht auf die Römer. Known as Riepl's Law, it states that:
New, further developed types of media never replace the existing modes of media and their usage patterns. Instead, a convergence takes place in their field, leading to a different way and field of use for these older forms.
- The notion that Pinball games were entirely based on luck led to many cities banning them around the middle of the 20th century, on the grounds that they led to delinquency and gambling. A ban in New York City stood for over thirty years, and was only lifted when writer Roger Sharpe appeared in court and gave a demonstration of precise aiming skills.
- The (re)introduction of television after the end of World War II prompted numerous pronouncements (both sober and wild-eyed) of its expected deleterious effects on society. One (probably tongue-in-cheek) example can be found in Stan Freberg's 1957 song "Tele-Vee-Shun".
- Hollywood's reaction to television was a panic attack, all but blaming TV for the Fall of the Studio System — something that had been in progress for years due to mismanagement. After the US government won a huge antitrust suit against the studios in 1948, the major studios dumped huge amounts of their libraries to TV syndication companies, deciding they were of little value otherwise (the VCR was still thirty years away). Worse yet, one of the now-liberated theater chains, United Paramount Theaters, merged with ABC in 1953. Its parent company Paramount smarted over all of this for years, and even had a hand in (trying to) kill the Du Mont network — which just ended up creating Metromedia, the precursor to FOX. Anyway, by the 1960s, all of the majors, even once-mighty MGM, had TV production facilities, except Paramount. They were finally forced into it by new owners Gulf + Western in 1968, after G + W bought Desilu Studios from Lucille Ball (the minors never had a problem with TV, since they didn't own theaters, and Columbia Pictures in particular jumped in head-first way back in 1951).
- In a 1950s Superman film serial Lex Luthor has a television station.
- FCC chairman Newton Minow's 1961 "Vast Wasteland" speech really wasn't all that important in the long run, was probably a decade too late to have the maximum impact, and unfair: you can take any medium and make it look bad by emphasizing the more vulgar output. Plus, Minow's point was to remind TV broadcasters of their duty to the public, not a blanket condemnation of all television. Earlier in the speech he even said "When television is good, nothing — not the theater, not the magazines or newspapers — nothing is better," and even admitted to being a fan of The Twilight Zone. So why was it considered such a landmark speech? Because the print media was terrified of TV taking their audience away, so naturally they considered a government official delivering a Take That to television to be a Crowning Moment of Awesome, and gave the speech maximum exposure.
- The famous anti-comic-book screed The Seduction of the Innocent featured as its last chapter an out-of-left-field denouncement of the evils of television.
- In the UK, the problem wasn't with Television (the BBC commanded too much respect for that), but with Commercial Television. In the 50s, when the idea of ITV was put forward, people started to predict terrible things, as the companies would aim at the lowest common denominator. This led many of the stations of ITV in the 60s being as straight laced as the BBC, for a while anyway.
- In The Seventies and especially The Eighties, there was a huge moral panic over tabletop RPGs turning kids into devil-worshipers. Even today, some Christian fundamentalists are prone to making this argument.
- As early as 1980 or so, Saturday Night Live parodied the paranoia that the recording industry demonstrates any time something new appears that consumers might spend money on besides records with a short film (allegedly funded by the industry) that demonized video games to a ridiculous degree. "Why spend eight dollars playing Pac-Man when you can buy this Juice Newton album instead?"
- Just as Hollywood was afraid of television driving them bankrupt, the television industry was afraid of a new technology that allowed people to not only record and share TV shows, but also skip all of those annoying commercials and get straight to the good stuff. The technology? The video cassette recorder. The time? The late '70s/early '80s.
- In 1976, Bill Gates wrote "An Open Letter to Hobbyists" attacking computer hobbyists for pirating his BASIC software, claiming that it would lead to the death of software programming. Gates has since gone back on this view, claiming that software piracy has allowed Microsoft to expand into China and other developing nations. His words are "As long as they are going to steal it, we want them to steal ours."
- "Home taping is killing music!" In The Eighties, the RIAA was scared to death of the pirate threat to their profits created by... the Sony Walkman. By recording music off of the radio and sharing it with your friends, you weren't listening to it through pre-approved outlets like radio or records. The RIAA gave the (completely unverified) claim that they were losing a billion dollars in profits each year to this insidious form of piracy. The irony, as pointed out by Cracked, is that home taping led to the creation of mixtapes, which were a revolution in the development of rap and hip-hop. Now which genre of music does the record industry get most of its profits from these days?
- In the UK, Citizen's Band Radio was a fad that only lasted a few years. But that was long enough for tabloid scares about teenage girls being groomed for sex over the CB, exactly parallelling scares about current social media.
- The Fifties gave us The Comics Code ushering in The Silver Age of Comic Books and censoring the then-relatively-new (and thus scary) medium of comics and their influence on children, particularly of the horror and crime genres. A lot of the fears at the time stemmed from the idea of comics being exclusively for children. What the censors accomplished was purging everything that wasn't, a state of affairs that would last for the next twenty or thirty years.
Anime and Manga
- Serial Experiments Lain focuses on a strange, distorted and malevolent version of the internet called The Wired.
- Though notably it also explores the positive side; Lain remains connected to her loved ones because the Wired continues to exist, in the end. The evils of the Wired are largely related to the issue of how an expert information manipulator can use misinformation and people's desires to elevate himself into a subject of religious worship.
- Xxx HO Li C has a more sympathetic/realistic example of this trope: one of Yuuko's customers is a housewife who is spending all of her time on the internet, to the exclusion of everything else, including her family, and Yuuko ends up smashing her computer... though she notes that it was all up to the housewife; that she should do what she wants to do, not what her family want her to do.
- She even notes that if the housewife really wants to go back online, there's nothing preventing her from just buying another computer.
- This isn't the first time CLAMP has taken a potshot at the Internet; in Chobits, one of the many Aesops is how artificial communication and simulation is destroying society. Of course, then CLAMP gets distracted by the cute robot-girl and the point kinda peters out.
- When Itoshiki Nozomu realizes that the Cute Mute of his class, who is only able to communicate through text messages, is actually a Troll, the kind of person who badmouths him on the internet but then behaves politely in every-day life so he cannot get angry at them, he summarizes this trope as the conclusion:
- Bakuman。 doesn't explicitly say that the internet is bad, but every time it comes into play, it's portrayed in a negative light; First when Smug Snake Nanamine attempts to create a popular manga via online committee, and then again when internet-goers catch wind of Mashiro and Azuki's marriage plans, leading to a massive backlash and wave of hate that jeopardizes Azuki's chance of getting the female lead VA role on Reversi.
- A Scooby-Doo comic once used as villains a gang of counterfeiters who were staging the haunted house masquerade to cover for their true operation... making counterfeit cassette recordings of popular music bands, which they would then supply to unscrupulous music stores.
- The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen:Century turned out to be one long diatribe against today's literature and fiction as an unprecedented nadir of human culture - the most prominent target being Harry Potter, who is literally the anti-Christ in the comic, and whose franchise is assaulted as having been stolen from older, better literature and being full of Plot Holes. Alan Moore considers the youth of today as whiny and conservative.
- Supergirl #60 has a guy launch an attack on the entire DCU metahuman community by creating a Foursquare-esque smartphone app for people to post metahuman sightings so villains can then track them down and attack them. This was brought back as a gag in New52 Batgirl, where common criminals mapped out the various Gotham vigilantes so they knew when to lay low.
- In Runaways, to prevent the Runaways from going to the police to reveal their evil plans, evil organization "Pride" frames one of them for murder, using the MMO he was playing as justification for why he may have done it.
- In the second Jurassic Park novel The Lost World (1995), one of the characters comment on how the Internet is the doom of all civilization, because it will "make everyone have the way of thinking about everything and force conformity." (!!)
- An older example: in Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the song sung by the Oompa-Loompas after Mike Teevee is shrunk denounces television in favor of reading. This is dated and absurd enough the 2005 movie version changes his obsession to video games (particularly first-person shooters), even though it makes his name and supposed smartaleckiness a little out of place. Alternatively, his real fault is being an obnoxious, cynical know-it-all rather than a media obsessive. Either way, they use a fairly close adaptation of Dahl's original song, meaning there is a "TV is evil" message in a 2005 film...
The most important thing that we've ever learned
The most important thing we've learned as far as children are concerned
Is never, never let them near the television set
Or better still just don't install the idiotic thing at all
- Roald Dahl had a real love-hate relationship with TV. The villainous parents in Matilda spend all their time watching TV and hate books. And yet, it should be noted that Dahl hosted two TV shows — Way Out in 1961 and Tales of the Unexpected in the 1980s — and wrote for some anthology TV shows.
- The 2013 stage musical's equivalent song, "Vidiots", is a cheekier take on the trope. It's about the perils of using electronic media to babysit unruly kids (this Mike Teavee is an outright Enfant Terrible; his mom's tried everything else to keep him under control and has since given up). While it makes a valid point that a diet of only instant gratification media won't do much for a kid's mind and life in the long run, it also invokes more hysterical fears for laughs — "And then like some barbaric Huns/Our toddlers all are packing guns/Now children curse and smoke cigars/Our nurseries now have prison bars..." — and even pops in some Hypocritical Humor with the lines "But OMG will this destroy/The art of conversation?"
- Much of Fahrenheit 451 was just Ray Bradbury ranting about how television (and radios with headphones?) would dumb Americans down, destroy literature, ruin marriages, cause violence, and ultimately kill everyone because nobody took war seriously. Nevermind that Bradbury (much like Roald Dahl) wrote many adaptations of his own stories for TV shows like Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Twilight Zone...Not to mention a video game based on said book.
- American Gods: The God of the Internet and the Television Goddess Media, while no more evil than the old gods, were callow and vapid in comparison.
- One of Asimov's stories mentions "dreamies" — direct neural interface movies. A government official says pornographic dreamies are the one type of pornography which is the worst for the "moral fiber of the nation". (It should be mentioned the rest of the story averts this trope). In "The End of Eternity", dreamies are considered a technology which cannot be allowed to exist — just like nuclear wars (or replicators).
- Another Isaac Asimov short story, "The Feeling of Power," parodies this trope. It takes place In a World where calculators are so wide-spread, and have been used for so long, that people have actually forgotten how math works, including how to add single-digit integers. A technician manages to reverse-engineer the science by studying how computers do simple operations and the society gradually extrapolates how to do more complex equations. The people exposed to this "new" science (which they name Graphitics) worry that it could be dangerous.
- Similarly, he wrote a young adult short story about a world in which voice recognition was so accurate and omnipresent that nobody bothered to learn how to read or write. The protagonist creates a "secret code" for his clubhouse which is nothing more than written English.
- The Doctor Who Expanded Universe novel The Gallifrey Chronicles features a vignette set in The Eighties, in which an alien intelligence introduces a device that's like a mobile phone, but much smaller, strangely streamlined, and with a screen, to a school playground. The children become fascinated, and then antisocial and withdrawn, as the alien radiation brainwashes them. They also start, somehow, talking in a way that skips vowels and uses numbers instead of homonymous words. Yes, the texting generation is an evil alien plot! (Author Lance Parkin may have had his tongue firmly in cheek.)
- Bad Dream by John Christopher has this for a technology that doesn't even exist yet — virtual reality! Some time is spent filibustering about how this panic is different from all the other ones, because virtual reality is so much more "real" than television or video games.
- Ditto for Death Dream by Ben Bova, though it also acknowledges how much better Edutainment will get when virtual reality exists. Of note is that all virtual reality in-setting is interactive, like video games rather than movies, but you always win the games no matter how badly you play.
- The Unincorporated Man, which primarily challenges uncontrolled capitalism, takes a chapter to explain how the future world portrayed was nearly destroyed by virtual reality. It's a bit clever about the mechanism, though — the system portrayed perfectly conforms to the user's wishes, and perfectly simulates any desired experience, so it acts as a Lotus-Eater Machine.
- Referenced in P.N. Elrod's The Vampire Files, which are set in the 1930s. One editorial Jack reads during his nightly newspaper-binge addresses the then-hot controversy about whether having radios in the home is contributing to the downfall of civilized society.
- Don Quixote: Spain at The Cavalier Years had just discovered the printing press, and books were considered this trope. The Book Burning the Moral Guardians enact at first part chapter VI to cure Don Quixote’s madness has not the darker connotations associated to the trope (and it’s full of TakeThats against bad written books).
"The reason of that," said Samson, "is, that as printed works are examined leisurely, their faults are easily seen;
and the greater the fame of the writer, the more closely are they scrutinised. Men famous for their genius, great poets, illustrious historians, are always, or most commonly, envied by those who take a particular delight and pleasure in criticising the writings of others
, without having produced any of their own."
- Discworld: Reaper Man, Soul Music and Moving Pictures featured Shopping Malls, Rock Music and Film as their respective Big Bads. The author later acknowledged that this came off as a little reactionary, let alone formulaic, leading to books where inventions like space travel, the newspaper, the clacks network, and Hex, the Unseen University's computer, while not entirely without their problems, push Discworld from pseudo-medievalism into pseudo-steampunk.
- Lampshaded in The Truth, which concerns the invention of the printing press and rise of the newspaper. The Patrician is wisely concerned that this is going to be yet another Sealed Evil in a Can, and is surprisingly pleased when its not.
- The whole arc with ForceFlow, Tash Arranda's Holonet-friend in Galaxy of Fear, appears to be teaching the Aesop that one should not put too much trust in Internet-friends you know nothing about. (He's the Big Bad.)
- Oryx and Crake basically has the Internet cause the complete destruction of human society.
- Vasili Golovachev's Catharsis series has a Story Arc where the Russian Orthodox Church concludes that the Internet has allowed the Devil to enter this world in a different way (i.e. he's not physically here, so he's not technically breaking the rules). To fight him, they have assembled the best special forces operatives and computer specialists, setting up their own operations to fight the Devil's cronies. Every morning, priests and monks perform exorcism rituals on their computers in order to clear them of the Devil's influence, making sure that the key prayers are spoken by a clergyman no lower than an archdeacon. Strangely, during the ritual, the machines seemingly restart for no apparent reason.
- The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Game" features an alien who tries to control the crew of the Enterprise by giving them video games that stimulate the pleasure center in the player's brain. Coupled with some subliminal conditioning, the crew become so addicted to the games that they obey their "master"'s every command.
- Non-Fiction TV example: Buzz Bissinger's rant against Will Leitch (creator of the extremely popular sports blog Deadspin) during a live telecast of Costas Now. Totally unscripted, Bissinger reinforced basically everything in this (and many other) tropes.
- Thanks to Ripped from the Headlines, a number of Law & Order stories share this flavor.
- This KTTV "Fox 11 News" "special report" purports to reveal the activities of a gang of "hackers on steroids" called Anonymous who destroy the lives of MySpace users, make death threats, and threaten to blow up stadiums. In fact, the "anonymous" in question is simply the default login to most Imageboards (the so-called "secret websites" and "underground hacker sites"). The "report" includes a random clip of a truck blowing up, apparently as a "demonstration" and a signal that You Can Panic Now. The "anonymous insider" is clearly in on the gag; note use of 4chan Catch Phrases like "Anonymous does not forgive". The mention of "like a real-life video game" earns extra New Media Are Evil points — such are the things that happen when a local news station doesn't know what they're getting into.
- It's worth noting, though, that the "insider" was not in on the gag — 4chan found out who he was and made his life a living hell. Read all about it on Encyclopedia Dramatica. The individual was a former /b/ member who, after his raid request on a girl who rejected him was turned down by Anonymous, continued complaining until a fellow Anon at his school revealed his identity. Hilarity did or did not ensue, depending on who you ask.
- And it's probably enough just to say this: Oh dear lord, the "Special Reports" on the night of Grand Theft Auto IV's release...
- The British Sun Newspaper (evidently worried that it was failing to meet its Pædo Hunt quota) ran a report on the satirical "Child Beauty Pageants" site that you can find on the in-game internet, which automatically redirect you to the FBI homepage and give you a four-star wanted rating. Apparently, including this was sick (and possibly wrong), and it would inevitably lead to people looking at these sites in real life.
- CSI: Miami had an episode ("Cyber-lebrity") where a girl's entire life seems ruined because of a photo (not even showing nudity) of her posted on the Internet. To the point where people are trying to kill her. Then they go after Horatio, uncovering confidential information within minutes, because It's a Small Net After All. And Flashmobs show up with a speed and fanatical interest over said girl that, in real life, wouldn't happen if Britney Spears was french kissing Lindsay Lohan buck naked on top of a circus trapeze in the middle of Times Square with dancing leprechauns doing the macarena in time to music supplied to the Rolling Stones. At noon on a weekday.
- CSI: New York had an episode where Reed, a blogger, tried to get Mac to give information on the Taxicab Killer. Mac refuses, so Reed proceeds to make something up. This whips up hysteria enough that three cabbies murder some random cabbie that they suspect to be the killer, except he was a cop. Considering that bloggers like Charles Johnson made their bones exposing malfeasance in old media, this is Anvilicious with a corrupt anvil. And just to drive it home even further, he's the next victim, or is he? It should be noted that Reed's original role in the series was as Mac's long-lost stepson, so there's definitely other tropes at play here. Still, there's probably a bit of new media hatin' in the mix.
- It also features a subversion: In "Down The Rabbit Hole", the team discovers that a Psycho for Hire is using Second Life too find info on her targets. She doesn't conform to the "Internet Stalker" archetype at all, and it's made quite clear she doesn't care for the game as anything more then a weapon (as revealed in a sequence where she uses a virus to crash her own server). Plus, it's revealed that Ross is an avid player.
- Another subversion in a more recent episode — a Chatroulette-like program alerts the CSIs to a murder before it's discovered (allowing them to be assured that they'll get the best possible evidence); Mac and Jo both experiment with the program and find it to be interesting, rather than harmful. Jo even uses it to show New York to a serviceman in Afghanistan.
- Later still, being signed up to a Facebook Bland-Name Product as part of a joke is what puts Mac back in touch with an old friend, who ends up being his Love Interest (and occasional Damsel in Distress) for the remainder of the series. Since the episode's plot involved a fake profile being used by woman to trick the victim (her soon-to-be-ex husband) into having an "affair" (to use against him in the divorce), which indirectly lead to the murder (the victim saw through it, but jokingly said he'd have her killed so she took opportunity to murder him during the robbery at the start of the episode, thinking she could frame the robbers - unfortunately it was staged by their daughter, who was sick of both of their crap) this was probably an attempt to avoid this trope.
- Similarly, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit had an episode where the killer stalked and become obsessed with his victim on an obvious Second Life rip-off. The crucial clue to finding his kidnapping victim was to find the cabin he built for her in-game, in a location identical to the real-world cabin he built to keep his targets in. That's right, the guy modeled a lake and the attending geography so carefully, and placed his model cabin (also scrupulously accurate to the real world version) exactly where it was in real life, and on top of that, the Second Life rip-off had such a perfect lighting engine that the detectives found the cabin by dawning the virtual sun and then seeing how the shadows fell and oh my God.
- In another episode, a kid claimed to have run over and then murdered a woman in a red dress because she looked like a prostitute out of a suspiciously GTA-esque video game, to the point where he was loudly describing the murder on the witness stand while his thumbs were furiously moving around in his lap and supposed mimicking the buttons one would push in the game. Inverted, because the A.D.A. saw right through his bullshit.
- There's also an episode where a teenager has been murdered. As they investigate her life, they discover that she had sex with men for clothes (and later for money.) They then discover her profile on a website people go on to find casual sex partners (not for pay) and one of the detectives states that it's a "small step" between having casual sex with people you met through the internet and becoming a $500 a night underaged call girl.
- In the episode "Web," a teenager is making child pornography starring himself and putting it up on the internet, and making huge quantities of money from it. The teenager was a victim of sexual abuse as a child, but several lines in the episode imply that this kind of thing happens all the time and your children may start doing it at any moment (Stabler: "Used to be kids were safe when they were at home.")
- Subverted to an extent, however, in an episode where a mentally-challenged teenager is suspected of killing one of his foster sisters as a result of his fascination with a fantasy role-play computer game, with some elements of the crime scene reflecting his interest in the game. The detectives rule him out, however, because he identified with the hero character, not any of the villains; he was acting out his interest in the game to try and protect her, not to harm her.
- Parodied in The IT Crowd, where an incredibly over-the-top spoof of the "you wouldn't steal a blank" anti-piracy PSA is shown when the characters are sitting down to watch a film.
- Even better, it was a pirated film.
- The Italian crime series Turbo (a ripoff of Commissar Rex, basically) had an infamous episode where a psychically disturbed man was accused of a murder, while the real culprits were some boys addicted to a "forbidden game" which had Doom 's cover, Quake II footage with a red filter, and was named DUUM II (spelled exactly this way). Complete with: a psychotherapist speaking about the connection between video games and violence from adolescents, the boys yelling "Blood, blood..." "I must kill them at any cost!" while playing, and one of them attacking the main character with an axe, screaming "Final Fiiight!".
- The infamous "Bloggers" sketch on The Daily Show, in which Stephen Colbert reveals increasingly sordid details about his own life in order to keep attack bloggers from getting the scoop. For a start, his real name is Ted Hitler, (Direct Grandson, but presumably no relation to Edward Hitler), he smuggled drugs in college and he drunkenly killed and ate a panda....
"In my own defense, Jon, it was dark, I was drunk, and it was delicious."
- NCIS occasionally subverts this with Timothy "Elf Lord" McGee, who's up on video game culture and plays an MMORPG. Although he is mocked for this, it has come in useful more than once. At one point (when his "Elf Lord" status is first revealed), the murder mystery revolved around an MMO (thus adding a straight example to the subversion), and in another case, he was able to identify the model of the suspect's car, based off of a kid telling him it was a Kuruma (the GTA equivalent). A recent episode involves a narcissistic killer with a theatrical bent communicating through a thinly veiled YouTube Fictional Counterpart — but when the fake YouTube is mentioned, all the characters (except, naturally, Gibbs) are familiar with it and consider it more or less harmless. "Lonelygirl15?" "Evolution of Dance?" "Numa Numa kid?" Before we even get to see the cryptic killer video, there's a good bit where it's just Abby dancing along with Dragostea Din Tei...
- Touched by an Angel tackled the Internet in "Pandora's Box", but to its credit subverted the trope. After the family-of-the-week's daughter was rescued from an online predator, Monica explained that the Internet isn't inherently bad and can (and should) be used for good instead of evil.
- Played straight in the episode "Virtual Reality" where video games are apparently tools of Satan that makes children do horrible things.
- The French cop show Engrenages aka Spiral had a murder-of-the-week in its second season in which a stereotypical alienated teen boy murdered his slightly older cyber-girlfriend after they met in real life and she rejected him for being too young, then killed himself. However, the general tone of the ep didn't condemn the internet so much as his parents for not noticing how screwed-up he was.
- Triple subverted on an episode of the Canadian sitcom Life With Derek. In one episode, the main character sees her brothers playing a suspiciously Tomb Raider-esque video game, and is offended by the sexy and degrading female protagonist... until she actually sits down and plays the game, and realizes that the main character is actually strong and competent and empowering. ...Then her brothers beat it, and she realizes that the "prize" for doing well is seeing the main character topless. A standard Double Subversion? Well, then she goes and writes an essay for her class about how female video game characters are cool, so long as designers can dial back the gratuitious Fanservice. (Phew!)
- Given that controversy surrounding Fanservice among real-life gamers, and the genuine conflict some Gamer Chicks feel between "this character is objectified and I should not like her" versus "I find playing as her to be empowering," it makes one suspect that there's an actual gamer or two on the writing staff.
- Obligatory Buffy the Vampire Slayer example from the first season with "I Robot, You Jane", where the boy Willow meets over the internet turns out to be the demon Moloch the Corruptor. Although to give it its due, the web becomes evil because a demon imprisoned in a book during the medieval ages was inadvertently released onto it, and several techno-savvy magic users were used to reseal it.
- Internet dating was a major part of the story. It was 1997!
- Played for laughs on an episode of The George Lopez Show. Max befriends a girl his age online. George is convinced that she must really be a sexual predator and takes over communicating with her in an attempt to lure her out. Cut to the girl's house, where her father and uncle are also convinced that her new friend is a predator and are trying to lure him out. (Both sides even comment that "there's no way a real kid would type like that" to their children). Once the adults meet up and realize that there's no actual pervert involved, they agree to let the kids resume their friendship, and even help arrange a supervised real-life meeting between them.
- Played with in Being Human. Ivan mentions offhand that he can pass along messages to the other vampires in Bristol easily, because most of them follow his Twitter feed. A later episode has a vampire use YouTube to distribute a video of Tom and George transforming into werewolves. This backfires when the people who see the video chalk the whole thing up to special effects, and it completely fails to throw the human world into the panic he anticipated. On the other hand, that same vampire seems to consider new media as a potential tool humans have to stay connected and win against any vampire attacks ("If you try to attack them, they'll have an army together within minutes. Over Twitter.") and his desire to take advantage of it is just his view that it's a powerful tool for anyone.
- In Once Upon a Time, ten-year-old Henry is the only one in the cursed town of Storybrooke who put together who was who under the Laser-Guided Amnesia and used a book of fairy tales to help unravel the mess. His adopted mother (the Evil Queen) wanted him to put down the fairy tales so she could go back to bullying the townsfolk without distraction. So, she burns down the playground and "compensates" the boy with a video game system (because, of course, playing those games will make sure he never thinks about storybooks or fairy tales...) Would have probably worked better if the kid's game of choice didn't turn out to be Space Paranoids.
- Black Mirror is pretty much New Media Are Evil: The Mini Series.
- Not necessarily evil, but Mick and Josef in Moonlight bemoan the modern Internet-based catalogs for High Class Call Girls. They preferred the "good old days" of driving by girls standing on street corners or old-school brothels. For some reason, they assume that these things don't exist. They do, they're just not "high class". Then again, we're never shown them (even in flashbacks) visiting prostitutes, so this is likely more of a Nostalgia Filter.
- Criminal Minds devoted an entire episode to a killer who targeted victims based on their Twitter feeds, and portrayed the Twitter users as drug addicts. (The episode also took time out of its schedule to blast the concept of "selfies".)
- The song "Tu es nicht" by the german band "Die Ärzte" parodies this.
- "Tele-Vee-Shun" by Stan Freberg, a calypso complaint about the power of the small screen.
New Media (are evil)
- Played with in a promotional comic for Bally's Space Invaders pinball machine. In the story, people who play the Space Invaders video game become enraptured by it to the point of ignoring everything else around them. On the other hand, the long lines of people who want to play the mesmerizing new Space Invaders pinball is treated as a curiosity.
- In Crüe Ball, this is the initial excuse given by Craig for his crusade against Heavy Metal music.
- City Of Villains parodies this with the Television contact, where the player (as a supervillain) is influenced into destroying books and fighting another contact who happens to be a sentient Radio, entirely so that everyone will have to Watch More Television.
- Of course, rather earlier, you can get missions from the Radio contact where you go around blasting TV stations, so really it's got the whole spectrum covered.
- This seems to be a pretty big plot point in Mother 3, as it concerns an evil dictatorship slowly transforming a quiet rural culture into a full-fledged technological cityscape. Most blatant are the "Happy Boxes", which look like television sets or computer monitors, and anyone that doesn't own one has their house struck by lightning multiple times. Naturally Lucas, being the Only Sane Man in this situation, is one of the few that doesn't have one.
- Then again, Itoi himself in this interview states that the Happy Boxes don't represent TVs or computers or anything. They're just abstract things.
- There's also the implication that this happened before in the form of Midnight Radio, so that whenever it happens it's whatever the New Media at the time is.
- One of the radio stations in Grand Theft Auto III has a person call in to say how evil telephones are, and is promptly asked about it by the host of the radio show.
- In Knights of the Old Republic, the Sand People of Tatooine do not keep written records for the same reasons Socrates mentioned - to write it down cheapens it and makes it something one can remove from the tribe. Of course, another reason for it could be that their ancient ancestors revolted against the Rakata, and slaves are often prevented from literacy. Having no written language prevents having any knowledge turned against them. They also have a Berserk Button for any outsider attempting to interpret the words differently than them, as they feel it can potentially twist the story for future generations.
- This is carried further elsewhere in the expanded universe: Sand People maintain all of their stories through a master-and-apprentice system of storytellers. If the apprentice ever mispronounces a word or makes a mistake while retelling a story, the master kills him or her on the spot. Once an apprentice can recite all of the tribe's stories word-perfect from memory, they become the new storyteller and the old one walks off to die. This system has persisted for centuries. They don't need new media.
- In Agent USA, an evil television set known as the Fuzz Bomb is traveling around the country turning the citizens into static zombies.
- To Boldly Flee viciously parodies this trope for all it's worth. A huge subplot is the impending government bill SUCKA, which of course is a satirizing of the SOPA bill. The government official trying to push it through and deliberately shut down internet reviews is named Lame R. Prick (the person who sponsored SOPA was named Lamar Smith), and he is ridiculously clueless as to how the internet and computers actually work (he tries to turn one on by smacking the monitor, and tells his assistant at one point "I only write Internet policy, I don't understand how it works!"). In the commentaries, the reviewers had a good bit to say about their time fighting against SOPA, and their opinions on whatever is coming next.
- Napster Bad: A lot of shorts feature the characters complaining about the threat that this new "interweb" invention poses to life at large - specifically, the series was made to mock Metallica over their anti-piracy stance, back when pirate sites like Napster and Kazaa were all the rage.
- A memorable episode of The Proud Family portrayed downloading songs from the Internet as being like drug addiction. Napster (or, as they called it, "E-Z-Jackster") is eeeeeeeevil. It also shows how downloading stuff for free severely effects the economy causing people to lose jobs.
- Another Disney series, American Dragon Jake Long did an episode which rips into blogging: when Jake goes online and vents about his annoying teacher, every magical creature in the city immediately assumes he's putting out a public contract on the man's life, and the assassination attempts commence. This may be an example of Be Careful What You Wish For.
- In an episode of Jackie Chan Adventures, Uncle, who is a real wizard and not technology-savvy, embraces the internet for the the first time. After everything on the screen disappears, he concludes that the internet is evil and a creation of demons, and proceeds to literally "crash" Jade's laptop.
- He later cast an entire exorcism spell after his fax machine began printing for the first time. In his defense, the first thing it printed was a symbol for an medieval cult that used evil magic.
- According to King of the Hill, a Flash Mob is a literal Torches and Pitchforks mob that any tech-savvy person can sic on someone who offends them.
- In that specific instance, it was; a disgruntled employee asked her friends to harass Hank, and they decided to beat him up...except that they mistake Buck Strickland for Hank, and he fires the employee responsible.
- Averted in an episode of Muppet Babies. The babies all play video games, but Piggy and Gonzo keep hogging the system in a fierce rivalry over The Tale of Imelda. In addition to featuring some surprisingly obscure gaming references, the Aesop of the episode is about sharing and good sportsmanship, as opposed to there being anything wrong with the games themselves.
- Done a bit straighter in Doug, where the title character's obsession with a videogame console quickly begins wrecking his grades and personal life. Instead of turning this into a reasonable lesson on setting priorities and self-regulating one's behavior, Doug is more or less only able to function normally after he ditches the console.
- Played very straight by Tiny Toon Adventures, which had several Take That jabs at videogames as being a mindless, corrupting waste of timenote , taking its criticism of them into outright vitriol on occasion.
- On Family Guy, Peter's ignorance was initially attributed to watching too much television in the first season episode "I Never Met the Dead Man," though Depending on the Writer, it has also been attributed to alcohol abuse and mild mental retardation.