"Newsreaders still feel it is worth a special and rather worrying mention if, for instance, a crime was planned by people 'over the Internet'. They don't bother to mention when criminals use the telephone or the M4, or discuss their dastardly plans over a cup of tea."
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."
At one point in time, 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 those not familiar with chess terminology, moving a piece so it threatens two of the opponent's pieces in such a way they are forced to save only one and likely sacrifice the other is called "forking".
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.
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.
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.
Supposedly, there was an initiative in Congress during the early 1900's to ban jazz music because it was "a bad influence".
They did ban marijuana, which, at the time, was associated with jazz musicians, among other things. Please note that this is not the only reason marijuana prohibition was enacted.
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.
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 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 50's, 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 60's being as straight laced as the BBC, for a while anyway.
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.
"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.
Before going into the more obvious example of the internet, the growing prevalence of text editors in the early 1990s (technically starting with the introduction of editable-line electronic typewriters in the '80s, but not accessible to non-millionaires until the 1990s) received a furor of complaints similar to Socrates' objections to writing: being able to delete and replace letters or words before printing text was the death of proper language skills, and thus coherent thought, would degrade memory, etc, etc.
People are _still_ complaining that word processors have killed cursive, assumably because they want in on the more modern version of the 'kids these days can't write properly like when I was a kid' complaint.
This proposed bill is an almost textbook example of this trope. While many of the supporters say that they are only trying to cut down on internet piracy, the true intentions are essentially trying to censor the internet in the same way as Chinanote note that this is a comparison the supporters of the bill made first . The many, many opponents of the bill are left out of hearings, and the last hearing basically boiled down to poorly researched railings against the sole witness not for it (but really the only one allowed in), a representative of Google. To give you an idea, many of the supporters don't even use the internet, or even want to know how it even works. And yet, they completely ignore internet security experts and numerous tech companies who say the bill is bad news because they don't believe what they're saying. Read: people who have barely crossed paths with the internet saying that they're experts on the subject are wrong.
Granted this is far from the first time that sort of thing has happened. It's probably best to expect people supporting these kinds of bills don't know what they're talking about.
Never mind the games, the systems themselves were briefly demonized in the late 90's. As consoles progressively became more sophisticated and powerful, there were numerous unsubstantiated claims that their CPU's could be removed by terrorists and then used as the guidance systems for remote-controlled bombs or missiles. In the wake of such rumor, some people seriously wanted anyone trying to buy a console to pass a background check first.
Casual games have been ruining video games since 2006 due to Nintendo's Wii console, which is what many fans will say. Never mind the fact that there were always casual games on the market. Nintendo just capitalized on it in order to make up for their poor sales of the N64 and GameCube while still appealing to their old core fanbase by making games like Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Super Smash Bros. Brawl. And, of course, it's not like the Sony Eye Toy didn't try to do the same thing... it just didn't do it as well.
This also becomes a little funny when you look at a couple magazines who now trash games like Wii Sports and say they are the death of gaming...whereas in the past; they had praised the Eye Toy as being a new and innovative way to approach gaming. Likewise, nobody seemed to have had any issues with Arcade games that had done it long before. The hypocrisy of trying to suppress a supposed "Genre" for "threatening" their style of gaming, in of all things, the Video Game media is not surprising.
According to this story published in Variety magazine in March 2009, London-based media research company Screen Digest has calmly announced that free online TV (both pirated and ad-supported legal) is the single greatest threat to broadcast media. The thrust of the article seems to be that since it is so much easier to watch television online on your own schedule, there's little reason to view broadcast media with all of its ads and often arbitrary scheduling. In other words, the internet is offering a better product in the same way television offered a better product than radio.
In her Nobel lecture, Nobel Laureate Doris Lessing calmly implied that the almost instant arrival of the Internet (in historical terms) has fatally wounded writing and literature.
Well, it's probably brought down the average quality of all writing published somewhere hugely, but...
This also extends to the New Media itself, when attempts to commercialize it are effectively resisted by its users, such as commercial pop-ups being countered by pop-up blockers (which are currently built into every major browser) and other software that cleans ads from web pages (such as the Adblock Plus extension to Mozilla Firefox). Various industry groups are constantly hand-wringing about how this is "theft of service" and how it will bring about the death of the Internet. Because, as we all know, the Internet was built on the rock-solid foundation of advertisement before those pie-in-the-sky scientists and academics got their hands on it.
If you have an adblocker and attempt to use Hulu, you'll get a notice demanding you turn your adblocker off or else the video won't play correctly (generally it will still play, but instead of ads you get black screens for the amount of time the ad would have run for)
Wiley Miller, artist of the newspaper comic Non Sequitur, has gone on record about his belief that the Internet is ruining society, and he's taken several potshots at it in the comic. He has particular vitriol for webcomics. You have to wonder if he's even aware that you can read his comic online.
Two local FOX News affiliates aired reports separately attacking both the Nintendo DS and the Sony PSP on their effects on children.
The Milwaukee station claimed that Nintendo DS made children easy targets for child predators, in the very unlikely chance that the predator would use his own DS to communicate with the child over Wi-Fi using Pictochat. Aside from the fact that it's far more likely to be in a game playing session than Pictochat, the Wi-Fi reception does not have a long range.
A station in Philadelphia called the Playstation Portable a source for online porn from kids (for context, smartphones weren't yet mainstream). Of course, they were mostly showing people with the concern that a kid would own a device with no parental controls, and showing screens of websites showing how to make a bomb. If your kid is searching for such articles, perhaps his troubled nature is the problem, not the game system.
Alan Kaufman:"The hi-tech campaign to relocate books to Google and replace books with Kindles is, in its essence, a deportation of the literary culture to a kind of easily monitored concentration camp of ideas, where every examination of a text leaves behind a trail, a record, so that curiosity is also tinged with a sense of disquieting fear that some day someone in authority will know that one had read a particular book or essay. This death of intellectual privacy was also a dream of the Nazis. And when I hear the term Kindle, I think not of imaginations fired but of crematoria lit."
In a town hall meeting in Merrimack, NH on 29 December 2007, then-Presidential candidate John McCain flat out declared his hatred of bloggers, as well as other alternative sources of news and information available to citizens, and did so in a way that makes it clear that he's not entirely up to speed on recent high-tech developments like cable TV. It probably comes as no surprise that he's also physically incapable of using a computer or sending an email after his torture.
McCain is currently an avid Tweeter.
In 2008, the Pentagon sent up a red flag about the possibilities for terrorists to conspire in plain sight on MMORPGs. Given that the entire scenario they presented was manufactured out of wholecloth and no such collaboration has ever been detected (or even suspected before now), it seems pretty obvious that this is another "oh my god! bad people can talk together!" panic similar to the one raised over the telephone a century and a half ago.
Similarly, a U.S. Army report released in late October 2008 suggested Twitter could be used by terrorists to coordinate attacks. Again, there was no evidence that such a thing was happening, simply that the Army had discovered a new medium of communication and determined that it did not magically prevent terrorists from using it.
Of course, the heavy use of Twitter by Iranian protesters has shown that there's some weight behind those fears. Yes, those are good guys trying to rebel against a very bad government. But Twitter would be just as useful for a nasty group trying to overthrow a good government — anonymous, asynchronous, instant communication is basically the Holy Grail of insurgencies.
That analysis is not borne out by facts. Any form of internet communication is susceptible to hacking and tracing. Al-Quaeda and the Taliban's actual communication system is positively Mediaeval — using couriers to orally deliver orders, and, if cell phones have to be used, buying one new, driving hundreds of miles in a straight line, using it once, and then destroying or discarding the phone and SIM card post use, frequently driving hundreds of miles in another direction for good measure.
Pieter De Crem, the Belgian Defense Minister, has made it known to the Belgian Parliament that blogging is a "dangerous phenomenon" that "exceeds mud-slinging," which is why he got a New York-based blogger fired from her job as a bartender. Her crime? Blogging about De Crem and his aides getting plastered in her bar. On taxpayer's money.
There has also been a lot of criticism of social networking sites because it's easy for young people to meet up with strangers. A few cases of girls getting raped or murdered by people they initially met on social networking sites like Myspace have given many members of the public the idea that everyone on the internet is really a middle-aged creeper trying to hook up with teenage girls.
The case of a mother who posted to Twitter asking for prayers after her toddler drowned in the swimming pool resulted in backlash about what an awful mother she must be for thinking about Twitter at a time like that, and, of course, claims that her son would be alive if not for her Twitter account. There wasn't even any evidence that she'd been online at the time of his death — the initial outrage stemmed purely from the fact that she'd used a social media site to communicate her grief. The blog that started the ball rolling with the assumption that she'd tweeted through her son's drowning is now entirely devoted to digging up dirt on her.
You'll also hear a lot of stories about people murdering people because of things that happened online. In fact, more often than not, the people involved in these stories already knew each other for years in real life and the argument that sparked the violence just happened to take place on a social networking site.
Considering how much of that porn is produced in Russia, you'd think he'd be nicer about it.
According to some newspapers, new media is making them go out of business, which is why they are making their content online pay-to-view. They also aren't fond of political sites like Huffington Post or Free Republic which link to their articles and give a little blurb about the contents of the article.
New Zealand media ran an article calling Chatroulette "the new pornography".
"Like its namesake it's dangerous, but instead of a bullet there's adult material!"
In a stroke of Fridge Brilliance, Chatroulette was actually created by a Russian teenager. Perhaps that's why the journalist forgot that there's a kind of roulette that does not involve a firearm.
...and then there's this principal, who apparently isn't aware of his own blackboard project for students and wants all internet access to be restricted by parents.
Another fun thing: Regelrecht, a TV show by the Dutch TROS, is now starting a public campaign to get libraries to ban access to sex and violence. Of course they aren't talking about books on violent killers or the erotic literature section, they mean access to the internet.
Dr. Phil has this trope every few episodes, usually focusing on 1) Children who are kidnapped by some stranger they met on the internet and 2) Children who spend too much time on the internet or texting.
In a much more serious case, there is a site only accessible via TOR proxy that allows you to hire hitmen.
Essence magazine had an article about teens and their sex lives. It had this trope in spades, claiming that television and porn are the cause of the rampant teenage sex going on. It also had a little bit of Old Media Catching Up and You Can Panic Now, since anybody that doesn't know that there is porn on the internet probably lives under a rock, or at the very least doesn't have any teenage kids.
Some people in the free and open source software community, while often extremely technically literate, are often ambivalent or even outright hostile to social networking sites, mainly due to privacy issues.
Frugal billionaire Warren Buffet does not own a computer and doesn't invest in Google or Facebook despite said products making millions of dollars a day. He doesn't necessarily consider them evil but instead thinks "New Media Are Unsure Investments".
An examination of Facebook's stock price since its IPO suggests that Mr Buffet made a reasonable choice.
Facebook is constantly being accused of stockpiling users' personal information for nefarious purposes. The paranoia increased tenfold after the company became publicly-traded due to people not knowing what that means, thinking the company is literally public, causing some uninformed users to post meaningless disclaimers that their info is private. Legality aside, the boring truth of the matter is that the only thing Facebook does with your info is use it to send you relevant advertisement, and even that is done by algorithm; Mark Zuckerberg is not leering at your spring break photos or stalking your every move.
A debate similar to the VCR incident cited under Digital Piracy Is Evil is now going on over ebooks — most notably Amazon's Kindle, which is selling like there's no tomorrow. Is this the end of printed books? Ask anyone who was around in the '50s and worried that television would be the death of movies what they think.
With the rise in popularity of 3D printers, it was only a matter of time before someone made a 3D-printed gun. The online group "Defense Distributed" hosts CAD files for a fully functional plastic gun as well as lower receivers and mags for AR-15 rifles (the lower receiver being the part of the rifle that is legally regulated and serial numbered, and in some American states mags are regulated). There was a firestorm of media coverage and panic, up until it was pointed out that the printed parts and gun broke.
Spec Ops: The Line was one long indictment of violent video games - specifically, modern military shooters, though it condemns violence in general as well - and the peoplewho play them, while ironically being a video game itself.
More specifically, it a Deconstruction of the concept of modern military shooters used as power fantasies, trivializing the kinds of things people actually in the military have to go through, and what the kind of gung-ho protagonist you generally see in games like these would be like in a more realistic work. It also doubles as a case study on post-traumatic stress disorder.
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:
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. Apparently, the people who bought them didn't realize that they could make their own copies a lot cheaper.
The decks needed to make really good counterfeits were only found in the homes of dedicated audiophiles back then. Not many people had the knowledge to cross-connect two freestanding recorders.
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 runaway children from going to the police we their evil plans, evil organisation "Pride" frames one of them for murder, using the MMO he was playing as justification for why he may have done it.
The 1995 Sandra Bullock movie The Net was largely composed of hysterical hand-wringing over how easy computers and the Internet supposedly make it for one's identity to be "deleted" by "hackers". Apparently, it took place in a world where no one carries a driver's license, and everyone's brain is online with the security of Wikipedia.
On a similar vein, the movie Hackers has made the subject of at least one geek drinking game for many reasons, the demonization of the culture mentioned in the movie title included.
Thanks to Live Free Or Die Hard, we learn that using the internet, you can shut down the world! (Except, apparently, the BMW SOS call center.)
In fact there are viruses designed to damage power plants, waterworks and nuclear reactors. This may be a serious problem in the future.
Walk Hard — The Dewey Cox Story parodies the panic over rock and roll in the 1950s; at his high school talent show, Dewey and his band perform a sweet, gentle pop ballad called "Take My Hand" about two people holding hands. It immediately turns all the teenage girls present into sex-crazed nymphos, the teenage boys into violent thugs, and causes the older generation to picket Dewey's house with Torches and Pitchforks screaming about how he's going straight to hell:
Preacher: You think we don't know what you mean when you say 'Take My Hand'?
The 2001 Japanese horror film Kairo (AKA Pulse) is built around the supposed nature of computers as alienating devices.
The film adaptation of The Twonky predicts a future when televisions become able to walk, talk, and use Mind Control. Apparently, a Dystopia uses them to keep the population in line. (The movie was based on a story of the same name by Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore, but it is left to those who have read it to say whether it was quite as Anvilicious.)
The direct-to-video horror film Strangeland has a psychopath (played by Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider) luring teens to their death via internet chatrooms. This was made in 1998, when instant messaging was still a novel concept. The first pair of victims provide a deal of exposition in their only scene about how IM'ing works.
The Bruce Willis film Surrogates has a generous offering of this, to say the least. Basically, the robot surrogates stand in for just about everything wrong about New Media and how's it preventing social interaction and true "humanity."
The Social Network subverts this and plays it straight. It's somewhat admiring of the technology we use today, and acknowledges the influence it has on society and why people would use it, but also notes how the people behind it usually don't have the best ideals....
Contagion deliciously follows this trope. As a new global pandemic spreads, Jude Law's character is an intrepid freelance internet journalist with his own popular self-published news blog. He plays on the Real Life trope of the "lone, intrepid reporter breaking the story!" and that Old Media Are evil. In his posts he vilifies the government agencies trying to deal with the outbreak, making it more difficult for them to enforce a quarantine. Stirring so much paranoia about government conspiracies and evil big pharmaceutical companies makes him into an internet celebrity, and soon this...self-employed outsider journalist with no credentials is a guest on every national TV news channel, is being put live debates with CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta. However, instead of posting a report that the government already has a vaccine and is withholding it or something...he tells his thousands of readers that the virus can be cured by taking an over-the-counter herbal remedy, Forsythia. As it turns out, he's bought up massive amounts of stock in national Forsythia manufacturers and is just trying to profit off the disaster. Adeptly manipulating the Old Media Are Evil trope, the more that national officials on TV state he's a crackpot, the more people think they're just trying to cover him up. When the CDC eventually manages to produce a vaccine, he starts saying its unsafe, trying to keep people buying Forsythia.
The ABC Family film Cyberbully seems to behave this way toward social networking sites. While the main moral of the film is supposed to be about all the damage cyberbullying and internet harassment can cause, it really seems to be more like "social networking sites are evil".
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 original novel of 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 newest movie version of the novel changes his obsession to video games (particularly first-person shooters), even though it makes his name and (supposedly) smartaleckiness a little out of place.
Roald Dahl hated TV. With a burning passion. The villainous parents in Matilda spend all their time watching TV and hate books. Enough said.
This gets weird in the latest film however, because they use a fairly close adaption of Roald 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
Despite his supposed hatred of TV, it should be noted that he hosted two TV shows 'Way Out' in 1961 and 'Tales of the Unexpected" in the 1980s and wrote for some anthology TV shows.
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).
Discworld: Reaper ManSoul 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 along 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.
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.)
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.
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: 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 othertropes 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.
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.
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 suspiciouslyTomb 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.
Hulu's hilarious ad campaign features celebrities from NBC and Fox shows (Alec Baldwin, Seth MacFarlane, Eliza Dushku, and now Denis Leary) admitting that television does in fact rot your brain, and that Hulu will rot it even more due to its convenience. They then admit that they are aliens who want to drink your liquefied brain mass.
The Dick Tracy newspaper comic did a story arc where they essentially shilled for the RIAA, portraying people who pirate movies and music as not only being literal thieves (they beat up guards and steal stuff out of warehouses so they can... make bootleg copies of it), but equivalent to drug dealers, including making ridiculous, over-the-top new villain characters in the style of characters like Babyface to represent internet piracy. It even included panic-mongering in the form of notes to parents that "If your kids download music, you can pay the price!" with an image of a cop car zooming up to a house with its siren running, presumably so the cops can kick in the door and slam the parents to the floor, handcuffing them and hauling them right to jail because their daughter downloaded "Slave 4 U". (Of course, all indications are that the guy writing these comics is completely and totally insane at this point, but being the RIAA's henchgoon is just a new twist.)
In Calvin And Hobbes, Calvin's dad refuses to buy a VCR because "It's bad enough we have a TV."
Of course, that probably has more to do with Calvin's taste in programming and tendency to watch at all hours than any inherent hate of the medium itself.
In one of his notes, Watterson himself called TV "the favorite drug of the 20th Century".
To further drive the point home, Calvin has notably never had a single video game console, and his father stated the same thing about VCRs about computers and the internet. He also believes transportation should have stopped with the bicycle and rants about too many choices at the supermarket. Watterson has made none-too-subtle attacks on comic books— or at least The Dark Age of Comic Books, which was in full swing at the time— where they are portrayed as absurdly violent and bloody.
Mary Worth would like you all to know that if you use the internet, you will fall in love with a criminal, be deceived by someone pretending to be your long lost child, and have your identity stolen. Facebook is not to be trusted!
Candorville has it both ways — the anthropomorphized "Mainstream Media" is a loudmouth and a fearmonger, but "The Internet" is paranoid and dubiously sane.
Luann's father: "I read an article on what kids do these days on the Internet. It's scary."
Luann's mother: "Do you think our daughter's doing something like that?"
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.
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.
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.
In Agent USA, an evil television set known as the Fuzz Bomb is traveling around the country turning the citizens into static zombies.
Parodied in thisPenny Arcade strip, reporting on the "Naughty Nobs" of the Etch-a-Sketch.
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.
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.