11 March 2008 (Journal entry #2 – part of an assignment for “Key Issues in Peace and Conflict Studies”.)

Tonight when I arrived home my Opa was watching the channel 7 news. Two stories of conflict caught my attention.

The first was ‘cyber conflict’. Personal attacks, defamation, and gossip occurring on the Internet. The story featured a guy who had taken revenge on his ex-girlfriend, verbally abusing her and her friends on his MySpace website. She took it to the police/court, and yet even after that, he abused her with more text messages.

There are many new conflicts arising with technology developments. Children bullying no longer stops when a child leaves the playground, they can be tormented 24-7 via the Internet and mobile phones. Crime on “second life”, a popular web based life simulation, include rape, murder and other perversions. It seems that behind a computer screen, inhibitions disappear and repressed emotions are set free.

Where do these desires come from?

In class today we  looked at Situation vs. Personal causes of violence.

We discussed the Cain and Abel story from Ruberstein (2003) in our readings. Cain and Abel, the sons of Adam and Eve, tell a story of the “first murder”. While this story is allegedly symbolic of the movement from nomadic life (Abel) to agriculture (Cain) – with God’s preference for the nomad, and agricultural life destroying nomadic life – that is not the aspect I wish to discuss today.

As the story goes, Cain is the crop farmer, Abel the shepherd; and God is portrayed as a father-like character. Cain kills Abel out of jealousy, for God rejected his offerings and favoured Abel’s. Ruberstein makes the point that Cain’s “forbidden anger” is a taboo – one can not hate their parent, and thus the anger is repressed, that is, denied entry into consciousness. Freud (1915/1957) believed repressed emotions do not simply disappear, after time they return to consciousness detached from their original object. Cain, the rejected child, substitutes the Abel, favored sibling, for his anger against God, the parent. As a result, Cain kills Abel. Is Cain’s fault? Or is it God’s fault, for favouring one child over the other? … Is Cain inherently evil? Or was it the situation that provoked the violence?

I think that while a response may be conditioned, a personal choice must be made.

Is this what is happening on the Internet? Is cyber conflict a manifestation of repressed emotions? Scapegoats for other problems. It is the root cause of these forms of psychological violence that we must identify in order to help both the offenders, and the victims.

The model in this weeks readings presented by Fierie (1970/2000) applies to oppressors and oppressed. I think that these victims may then turn into attackers later on in life. The possibility of violence carrying through from cyber-world to the real-world, is a scary thought. These conflicts really need attention. NOW. Before they manifest into something even worse.

Looking into the future, I wonder what kind of cyber conflicts may occur, whether this trend will increase, the implications this will have on real life, and what can be done to prevent it?

The second news story that caught my eye was about Britney Spears and the Paparazzi. The story featured a photographer discussing the public’s obsession with celebrity, and the way interest in celebrity is replacing interest in world news.

I can’t help feel sorry for Britney Spears. In the spotlight since childhood, promoted as a 16 year old sex symbol, with “Christian morals” publicly declaring her virginity she was ‘saving for marriage’. Now look at her: a couple of husbands, a couple of kids, drug addiction and a mental breakdown or two. She seems to have completely lost her sense of identity.

In today’s class we looked at different forms of violence: psychological, physical and cultural.

It is my observation, gathered from gossip magazines and TV shows over the years, that Britney has suffered psychological violence, potentially coming from her mother; manifested into physical violence she brings onto herself. In applying Galtung’s dimensions of violence, I would say that this violence is not intentional. Yet it is violence all the same.

Is there also a cultural violence being faced in this situation? The paparazzi stripping away her every bit of self and privacy. Why? To fill the gossip magazines with pictures, in order to satisfy the mass culture celebrity addiction. Something seems wrong here…

The concept of celebrity currently embedded in popular culture, is one to ponder. Many people constantly compare themselves to false ideals set by the media’s presentation of these people. The frustration being unable to buy a house as magnificent as Tom Cruise, or being unable to have the skin of models on magazine covers… is this causing depression, dissatisfaction, insatiable materialism, anorexia etc? I can’t imagine living in a poor countries and catching a glimpse of a Hollywood movie, imagining that this is how everyone in the Western world lives.

Relative deprivation refers to resentment caused by situations where one’s “perception of discrepancy between their value expectations (goods and conditions of life believed to be entitled to) and their value capabilities (goods and conditions they think they are capable of getting).” (Gurr 1970). Does Hollywood fill us with dissatisfaction because we will have the luxuries we perceive others to be enjoying?

But fame and celebrity are not without their positive points. Fame is something many people aspire to, and I believe aspirations are important. Celebrities can do a lot of good too, Angelina Jolie’s humanitarian work for example.

I happen to LOVE movies, reading magazines, and the odd bit of Hollywood gossip. Is there any harm in that? I don’t think so – not if we need to keep things in perspective. Celebrities are only human, admiring and aspiring to them is ok… but treating them like gods, encouraging an obsessive paparazzi, and wishing ourselves to achieve a photoshopped ideal – is not healthy for anyone. At the end of the day we all breath the same air and will finish up in the same place: resting in peace.


Whether you are in South America, India or Japan – if you are 6 foot with ridiculously blonde hair you’re sure to get the celebrity treatment. This shot was taken in Lima. No autographs please.