Shame On Us

Generalizations of the “typical shooter” by American media have been swirling around Nasim Aghdam’s tragic horrific act all week. Network anchors have been desperately trying to tie her to everything from Islamic Terrorism, to an anti NRA militant Vegan Animal cruelty activist.

But we Iranians all know better. We all have the missing information that may have been the most reasonable likely contribution to the tragically fragile mental state of Aghdam, and her unfortunate story.

Firstly, as one would expect from someone that is Iranian, Aghdam had clearly deluded herself into thinking she was legitimately popular among her fellow Iranians, and a bona fide YouTube “sensation”. However the overwhelming amount of Farsi trolling and bullying that was present on her videos, showed a much different truth. She was brutally attacked by haters in the Iranian community.

Being a constantly persecuted Iranian Bahai (Not Moslem) must have only added to her increased feelings of alienation.

Second, her videos were not being viewed or trolled outside of the US as has been suggested by the media. YouTube by its very nature is always blocked inside Iran. No. Her haters were outside of Iran. Most likely they were among us, here in the US, where the largest population of Iranians live.

Third, she was in fact also supporting her parents (true to our tradition) with the income she generated from YouTube. When YouTube shut down her revenue stream, the impact was to further drive Aghdam into the abyss of hopelessness. Being a constantly persecuted Iranian Bahai (Not Moslem) must have only added to her increased feelings of alienation.

Fourth, a 39 year old unmarried Iranian woman, is already weighed down as a huge social liability within Iranian culture. The societal, family, and traditional Iranian pressure on her impending reaching of the very tenuous milestone of 40, still unmarried, no doubt added to her already on-the-edge state of mind.

The tragedy, is that with nothing more to lose, at the very end of the ever shortening rope that she finally used to tie her hands with, a simple seemingly unaffecting procedural change in the YouTube content policy and revenue generation algorithm, after the brutal trolling comments and ridicule, with her parents livelihood done for, staring “down the barrel” at her own likely spinster-dom, it was all simply more than Aghdam could take.

This is likely why she didn’t tell her parents, and left San Diego to come to the only source of her misery she could blame. YouTube. And sent the message that, “If you are all going to hate me for no real reason, then fine, at least now you can truly hate me for this!”.

After Aghdam died, the hating Farsi comments on Twitter did not stop. One Iranian troll added, (translated from Farsi), “I would like to invite [Instagram Handle], [Instagram Handle] and [Instagram Handle] and the other numbskulls on [Aghdam’s Instagram thread], to accept the same [Aghdam’s hashtag] suicide challenge.”

We Iranians certainly cannot be blamed for Aghdam’s actions. But we as Iranian users can be blamed for tolerating Iranian online bullying and brutal personal attacks, and Iranian trolling, by ignoring it, and not speaking out against it. So shame on us.

Sites that have enabled these anonymous trolls and bullies to get away with their heinous acts, creating blood in the water frenzy of hatred, while cashing the advertisers’ checks claiming “engagement”, should also bear some responsibility in this tragedy. So Shame on them as well.

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