Sorry Bro, Maybe Next Week: Keep Calm and Troll ISIS
Reminding us the Revolution may well be tweeted if not televised, ISIS again used its much-vaunted social media savvy this weekend to broadcast the first new online rallying cry since May. In the 24-minute address delivered through ISIS-aligned media accounts, leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi told his audience, "Be confident that God will grant victory to those who worship him, and hear the good news that our state is doing well. We urgently call upon every Muslim to join the fight, especially those in the land of the two shrines (Saudi Arabia)." The message was re-tweeted in English by Iyad El-Baghdadi, a prominent human rights activist and ISIS foe initially confused by many online with al-Baghdadi himself. Soon after posting the ISIS message, he started getting mock replies from folks who preferred to join a growing, deft flurry of online anti-ISIS activity aimed at proving that "making fun of the enemy is the best way of defeating them."
Incongruously to many, terror - both pro and con - already has a huge social media presence. As Facebook and other companies struggle to come up with rules limiting ISIS' influence and outreach ideas to combat it, a would-be suicide bomber in London was just convicted after seeking target advice - "Westfield shopping centre or London underground?” - on Twitter. Meanwhile, online parodies and other kill-'em-with-humor approaches to ISIS are everywhere. In the Middle East, there are Muslims, including Syrians, making mock videos and TV shows. There are Israeli blooper videos. There was an ISIS Trolling Day proclaimed by Anonymous that produced a flood of often profane, sometimes juvenile - cue an obsession with goat-fucking - posts, many featuring photos of ISIS fighters with rubber duckie heads, which did wonders for them.
This week's trollling festival, inadvertently launched by El-Baghdadi, continued the trend. Responding to the call for action, hundreds wrote to say sorry dude but no can do, being kinda busy watching Star Wars/making couscous/ washing the dishes/ bingewatching Netflix/ checking out Boxing Day sales/being an infidel/"acting like real Muslims and doing charity work," and besides flights are booked and prices are high, and also they wonder if they'd get any extra virgins for the occasion, and oh yeah they're not so crazy about ISIS' health plan and funeral benefits and what's up with no dental. Also: "My dad said I have to be home by 8pm. Will we be done by then??"
Charlie Chaplin knew what he was doing: "Laughter is the tonic, the relief, the surcease for pain."