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  • Writer's pictureSam Wilks

The Psychology of Victim Porn: Understanding The Behaviour of Those Promoting Hate.


In a world increasingly connected by digital tendrils, the phenomenon of 'victim porn'—the sensationalised portrayal of suffering for emotional or ideological manipulation—has become a pervasive aspect of modern discourse. I hope to unpack the psychological, economic, and sociological underpinnings of this phenomenon, particularly in the context of promoting hate.

At its heart, victim porn taps into a deep-seated psychological need to empathize with and support those who are suffering. However, this natural inclination can be exploited, transforming empathy into a tool for ideological manipulation. In the context of promoting hate, victim porn often portrays a group as unduly persecuted, thus justifying aggression against perceived oppressors. This tactic creates a binary world of 'us' versus 'them', simplifying complex social issues into black-and-white narratives.

From an economic perspective, victim porn can be seen as a commodity in the marketplace of ideas, where demand is driven by the audience's desire for moral clarity and a sense of purpose. This demand often leads to a supply of increasingly sensationalised narratives, which can escalate tensions and promote divisiveness. The ABC, Australia's taxpayer-funded media organisation, runs master classes on sensationalism regularly.

In November 2023, they consistently used social media to incite violence towards Security personnel in the Northern Territory, using footage from Ten years earlier of an accidental death that resulted in no convictions to stoke racial violence even seeking to compare it to the US's George Floyd incident. These actions are tantamount to a form of domestic terrorism in my personal opinion

According to sociology, the echo chambers produced by contemporary media, where people are more frequently exposed to information that confirms their preexisting beliefs and biases, facilitate the spread of these narratives. This reinforcement can lead to a form of collective hysteria where rational discourse is drowned out by emotional appeals.

In Australia, the manipulation of victim narratives has been observed in various contexts. For instance, portrayals of particular groups as either unfair beneficiaries or unjust victims have occasionally coloured the immigration debate, causing resentment and division. Similarly, discussions around indigenous rights and history have also seen the use of victim porn to either downplay or exaggerate injustices, often obscuring the nuanced reality of these issues.

The role of the media in propagating victim porn cannot be overstated. In the digital age, where sensational content is more likely to be clicked on, shared, and engaged with, media outlets are often incentivized to amplify these narratives. This amplification can distort public perception, leading to a skewed understanding of the reality of social issues. None is more proficient at this than publicly funded media organisations that can avoid the backlash of a free market.

Addressing the phenomenon of victim porn, especially when used to promote hate, requires a multifaceted approach. It involves promoting media literacy among the public and encouraging critical thinking and skepticism toward sensationalized narratives. Additionally, fostering an open and rational discourse where multiple perspectives are considered can help counter the binary narratives promoted by victim porn.

The psychology of victim porn, particularly in the context of promoting hate, is a complex interplay of human psychology, economic incentives, and sociological dynamics. Understanding this phenomenon requires a holistic approach, considering not just the emotional appeal of such narratives but also the underlying motives and incentives driving their propagation. As society grapples with increasingly polarized discourse, recognising and addressing the manipulation of victim narratives is crucial in fostering a more informed and cohesive social environment. From the author.



The opinions and statements are those of Sam Wilks and do not necessarily represent whom Sam Consults or contracts to. Sam Wilks is a skilled and experienced Security Consultant with almost 3 decades of expertise in the fields of Real estate, Security, and the hospitality/gaming industry. His knowledge and practical experience have made him a valuable asset to many organizations looking to enhance their security measures and provide a safe and secure environment for their clients and staff.

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