Disappointment. That is all I feel for our vast online community today. Recent news has been spreading about a school shooting Monday at Chardon High School, which is 30 miles outside Cleveland. The alleged shooter, T.J. Lane, was a social outcast and was bullied constantly.
Although this shooting was very different from the Columbine shootings years back, it contained scary similarities and immediately brought back memories of that notorious tragedy.
However, the difference here is I believe Lane wanted to get caught. The day before the attack, Lane posted a thread on a forum known as 4chan.org. He announced he was going to go to school and shoot students until police arrived. I wish I could provide you with the link but it has since been removed by the site. If you search the Internet you will find the pictures — warning they may be unsettling. That is why 4chan is the home of illegal activity, unless people continuously “bump” a feed it will disappear, never to be seen again. This is probably why Lane chose this site. He uploaded pictures of himself holding two guns while wearing a trench coat. Lane’s choice to publicize his intentions is not why I am disappointed in the Internet. 4chan is constantly cluttered with posts regarding people claiming to kill themselves, or saying they are going to beat someone up. This is scary, yet very common.
The reason I am so disappointed in the Internet community, is the comments that people posted in response to Lane’s thread. Lane posted on 4chan as a cry for help. If he wanted to go through with the attacks he would not have told people he was going to do it. He even posted a second time before he left for school, announcing he was about to do it. The comments on these posts were horrifying. People were cheering him on telling him to get his revenge. Lane wanted to be stopped and he wanted to be heard.
Many of you will say there is nothing people could have done. This is false, 4chan is a very powerful network. Demonstrated by examples at thesmokinggun.com, 4chan’s administrators can hack anyone’s information if they need to — and have previously done so. There are countless cases in which 4chan has contacted police about potential crimes posted on their site. Many of these crimes have been prevented.
I cannot tell you why 4chan did not stop this crime, nor do I know if they even tried. The fact is we as Americans failed this teenager, and we as Americans failed the victims and their
families. Had the comments on this thread been positive and telling him time heals all wounds and talking him down, I have no doubt this incident could have been prevented.
I have always known that the 4chan community was filled with some of the worst people in the world but even this amazes me. They had the chance to prevent these attacks and they urged him on.
Criminals who post on 4chan are either stupid or want to be caught. It is at this point they turn to the forum. 4chan is a site full of illegal activity, but administrators should take some responsibility and try to report people like this to proper authority. These crimes can and should be avoided, and it is our responsibility to stop them in the future.