Serial Experiments Lain and Rumors

Hey everyone, been a pretty slow year so far for the blog posts. I’ve been steadily gathering ideas from new shows I’ve been watching as well as getting inspiration from other sources and while I can’t say I’m going to go full force and start writing an article a week, I can say that I have been wanting to write about Lain more. I hope I always have Lain as a source of inspiration because I feel like there’s still so much I’d like to write about it that I just haven’t gotten to yet. For now, though, I’ll focus on the Rumors aspect of the show, which just so happens to be LAYER 08’s name as well.

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Now, I have covered some of this topic in my Sociological Experiments Lain article. But I feel there is plenty more that could be said about the subject, especially when examining the exact influence and power that rumors have. Showing off the power of rumors is yet another thing that Lain does phenomenally well by tying it in to other overarching themes within the show such as the breakdown and manipulation of reality as well as the general societal themes about how one can be perceived on the Wired versus real life.

What fascinates me about this subject is indeed how much power rumors have – the show indirectly tells the viewer that rumors are scary things, especially now that the internet is a factor. Evil Lain is able to spread a rumor like wildfire with apparently a minimal amount of effort, thanks to the Wired connecting her to everyone. Implanting the idea that Alice was sleeping with her teacher – regardless of whether it was true or not – caused enough people to believe it to ruin Alice’s life and effectively shape the reality around her.

It leads into the question of why people choose to spread rumors in the first place. From what I understand, rumors, especially simple ones about people, tend to spread because there’s something exciting about them, especially if they’re repeated and are simple. Evil Lain went with an extremely simple rumor, that Alice and her teacher were involved in a relationship. This is a taboo subject and in almost any society would spread immediately. No one would confront her about it – after all, it was something they saw on the Wired, second hand. They don’t have the evidence for it. Yet everyone believes it all the same. It’s a rumor that is incredibly hard to prove or disprove as well. No one has pictures or evidence of them doing anything but no one has evidence of them NOT doing these things.

People like to spread rumors as well when THEY are not the subject. As soon as the lens is turned on them suddenly they realize how cruel it is. Alice was not the type to spread rumors but she became a victim of circumstance due to her connection with Lain Iwakura. Even if she had been in a relationship with the teacher, the punishment shouldn’t have been society spreading rumors about it. Some other form of direct action should have been taken. But, alas, no one would have acted with such a limited amount of information.

Lain’s solution seems extreme for this scenario. She ends up erasing everyone’s memory of the rumor except for Alice’s. While this has its terrible effects, there is the positive of it being out of everyone’s minds for good. The problem is that when a rumor gets started and it’s the first you hear of it, you tend to continue to reference back to that initial rumor or information regardless of what you learn later on about it. It’s kind of like a first impression in that sense – if you meet someone on a bad day and they act rude to you, regardless of how nice they are to you afterwards you’ll always have something reminding you of how they acted when you first met. The memory here works the same way. There’s a good chance many of the people spreading the rumor about Alice wouldn’t even know who she is, but if Lain hadn’t erased their memories everyone would ALWAYS associate Alice with this incident regardless of what they learned about her or the incident later on.

This is partially what I find amazing about this show. The concept of memories and rumors can both have their own discussions but Lain brings them together and combines them in a cohesive way that makes sense within the confines of the plot (among several other things). It ties into the question of “If enough people believe something happened, does it matter if it actually happened or not?” If enough people HAD BELIEVED that Alice was sleeping with her teacher, the reality becomes whatever the majority chooses to believe regardless of what the truth is.

Now many people do say “the truth is the truth no matter how many people believe it”, but the nature of Lain makes it so that statement isn’t necessarily accurate. In Lain, the truth is whatever people choose to believe and perceive as real. And rumors have the ability to change that, as they sometimes do in the real world. The Wired lets rumors spread like a disease and I believe the show does an excellent job at showing exactly why rumors are ugly things that shouldn’t be believed just because it’s being repeated by a large amount of people, or else you risk losing the truth and reality of the situation to a manufactured truth – and the actual truth may be lost forever if everyone goes on believing the rumor.

I will continue to love Lain and all of the show’s aspects. This is simply a thousand word blurb on the nature of rumors and the like, but I’m sure I’ll be revisiting certain aspects of these ideas as I’ve done in the past. Lain is a show where my understanding continues to evolve again and again until I see new ideas and understand new things about it and I don’t think I’ll ever have a fully realized understanding of everything happening in the show. There are certainly things I missed out on here, so hopefully I can keep learning. Rumors are tricky things that can shape the nature of reality and I believe Lain’s creators understood that perfectly. I hope more people will end up watching the show and forming their own interpretations of these things too. And remember, Let’s All Love Lain.

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One thought on “Serial Experiments Lain and Rumors

  1. It’s interesting to note that Lain, who is essentially God or God’s representative in the Wired, confronts the aspects of humanity from a digital perspective. Rumors are a form of vanity to those who spread them. In some respect it is ‘negative love’, in that Love is meant as a positive emotional force towards others while this draws love from people forcibly and transfers it to the person who spreads the rumor through attention gathering. This could also be translated as hit counts to a website. Lain shows the truth of both the pull of spreading / creating rumors and their destructiveness.

    Just a thought,

    Derek

    Like

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