You ever feel like it’s not a matter of if, but when? Today’s headline: San Diego Pool Shooting. A pool shooting, really? We can’t even go swimming now? Last week’s headline: Random Killing Of Cleveland Man Captured On FB Live.
The aftermath and investigation try to explain the “why” behind these incidents, and lately, at least to me, it seems they all sound the same. The reasons are usually jilted lover, gambling debts, felt disrespected, fired by employer; anything that might explain “the why” behind these incidents.
Many of these excuses are given to help us all make sense of the randomness and shocking violence, and the cycle remains the same. First the media report the incident, name the offender, describe his background, and try to give reason to his madness. Next, his family and neighbors are interviewed and we are told he was really a super nice guy, but something must have snapped and “he has been having some problems.”
Then we gawk at the family and shake our heads because they’ve lost their loved one and hope it never happens to us.
On to the next one, where the predictable cycle repeats again and again and again.
My thinking lately has caused me to believe that we fail to look at the culture we have created because it is never comfortable to take a good long look in the mirror. I’m not proposing the acts of violence are our fault necessarily, the killer owns the responsibility. However, in a culture that glorifies violence, esteems revenge killings, makes law enforcers villains, and applauds criminality, isn’t this what we should expect?
What Has Changed?
I’ve already mentioned the biggest change. As a culture, we’ve bought into violence in all forms, and violence begets violence. When we see people being hurt, and have no feeling about it (and numerous people standing around documenting it on video without intervention), we have crossed into new territory.
The fact that we can peer into an actual killing in progress everyday via video, and have an expectation to see violence in action, and feel disappointment when we can’t witness the violent act is a clue we have become utterly desensitized to violence.
These acts are seen live, in color, by thousands instantly – by all ages.
Psychology Has Shifted Responsibility
If I don’t like being told what to do, I have Oppositional Defiance disorder, it’s not my fault. If I shoot heroin into my veins, I am addicted and not responsible. If I gamble and lose all that I have, that too is an addiction. Beating my wife because she makes me angry may lead to anger management classes, my brain is damaged, so this is why I don’t have control. If I rage against my employer, most likely he is violating my rights as an employee and is being disrespectful.
Never mind my bad work habits, my mother didn’t love me, that’s why I am such a sorry employee.
Nothing is my fault. I am a victim. You are a victim. If we are victims, then there must be somebody to blame. Our culture has shifted to this mentality – we are not to blame – other’s are to blame.
It’s easy to become discontent in America. Take a look at FB and everyone’s life is better than yours. Media messages repeatedly suggest we deserve to have things, and if we don’t have things, something must be wrong with us. Politicians, in the name of getting votes, help us believe we are owed something just because we breath air. Some of them even encourage people to speak out, be heard, protest and demand what is rightfully ours by birthright. We believe we deserve a great life, and when it isn’t a great life, some of us get very angry and bitter about it.
It’s OK To Rage Against Those Who Don’t Agree With You
Have you ever been scorched on FB? I have. An innocuous comment on a post has led to people calling me all kinds of names. Complete strangers feeling compelled to rage against my opinion and to tell me about it. This has happened so often, I have stopped posting on anything that might be controversial.
Maybe it’s just me, but America feels like a really angry place these days. All those years before FB and Twitter, we just had to gripe to our circle of friends, but now, we get to tell the whole world how angry we are – instantly.
We All Have A Platform Now
People who commit heinous, violent acts are demonstrating their rage against their circumstances, the person who caused them pain, and/or society as a whole. Their lives haven’t quite worked out for them. They used to call this “Life” but now it is cause to become embittered and angry. The fact they have a crappy life isn’t necessarily their fault. They have accepted the lie that someone else is responsible for their mess.
Violence in our world has become the answer.
Now they can share their disgruntled state with their friends and family as it happens on You Tube or Facebook. They demonstrate how angry they are, while also showing everyone their narcissism, rage, victimhood, and suicidal/homicidal tendencies and their moment of infamy as it unfolds.
The unknowing person, ex-wife, boss, teacher, pastor, any innocent person in their path will suffer, along with their family and friends, all of us will now have to endure it as it happens. Posted to social media instantly, and retweeted until the feed is taken down.
In the story of Pandora, she unintentionally opens a box and all the world’s evils come out and all that is left is hope. Once the evil is out, it is impossible to put it back into the box. As has happened in public mass murders, copy-cat crimes try to out do the crime before it. Now the demented and scorned have taken to live streaming their destruction on social media. In the past week alone, I have seen two additional copy-cat crimes more outrageous than the one before it.
I don’t see this problem getting better because it will take a sea change in beliefs and practices to change mens hearts. We will always have guns, we will always have violence, and now we have a new way to display rage. The thing we can do is believe it can happen and prepare for it.
Author: Glen Evans
Glen Evans is a speaker, author and consultant focused on helping people recognize, prevent and respond to violence. He provides speaking and training seminars for private groups and corporations.