The Internet Darwin Awards

The Darwin Awards are familiar to most of us. They’re awarded to people who suitably remove themselves from the genepool by doing less-than-intelligent stuff like beating up a tiger, or testing for flammable gas using a cigarette lighter. However, there are things you can do on the Internet that can also make you eligible for a Darwin Award. If these do not actually get you killed, they have the potential to drive you to suicide or at least greatly reduce your chances of finding someone to reproduce with. Such us:

1. Putting Up Pictures of Guns

Above: What your front drive will soon look like.

So, you just bought a cool new gun and you want to show it off. Or maybe you’re with a friend, who just bought a cool new gun. Of course you want to pose with them and take pictures! And then put the pictures up online somewhere to show all your friends how awesome your gun is!

I mean, just make sure the guns are unloaded, don’t point them at each other and try not to drink too much first, right? What’s the worst that can happen?

Well, what about getting shot by cops?

If you didn’t click, that was a news story about an 18-year-old kid, Peyton Strickland, whose friend put up pictures of them posing with guns together on his Facebook page. Strickland was later suspected of a crime, and cops checked around online and decided that he looked dangerous enough to send a bunch of heavily-armed police officers with a battering ram. Something went wrong, and the unarmed, non-gun-owning Strickland was shot dead. The crime he was suspected for? Theft of a Playstation.

Whether the cops were overreacting, or just who was to blame for the actual shooting, are questions for another day. The point is, cops these days see online gun pictures as a reason to whip out the SWAT teams, machine guns and/or rocket launchers when they feel they need to arrest you. Would Strickland be alive if someone hadn’t put up those images? Almost definitely. Now, Strickland himself is not deserving of an Internet Darwin Award: he didn’t put up the pictures, his friend did, so leaving aside any potential Playstation-related crimes, he was faultless. But if you’re aware of the danger and still put up unlocked gun pictures, that’s a different story.

Whatever, you might say. It’s my personal human right to pose online with an M16, and if it kills me, so be it! Well, if you do insist on posing with weapons, here’s some tips to follow:

1. Be a white person, and if possible, female. This might lessen the chances of cops randomly shooting you. Or at least pose with some white friends. (If you are not white or female, don’t try to cover up this fact by wearing a mask. That will probably make things worse.)

2. If you hate the police, try to restrain from saying so right next to the gun pictures. In fact, you might even want to add some comments about how much you respect law enforcement and are in favor of non-violence.

3. For heaven’s sake, smile. If you’re lucky, the cops with the power to send a SWAT team to your house after you didn’t pay that littering fine will realize you’re just goofing around, and don’t actually plan to kill them the moment they step onto your property.

Yes.

No.

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