Violence is everywhere. That’s nothing new. What’s new (relatively speaking) are the 24-hour news channels, and online news and social media platforms that put the violence front-and-centre – on repeat!
Setting aside war-related violence, which is beyond tragic and in a category of its own, I’m talking about neighbourhood violence, on the rise everywhere and seemingly out of control! Or, at least it feels that way.
It used to be (in my lifetime, anyway) that one learned about violence on the 6 or 11 o’clock news, or in the newspaper the next day. If the violence was of a particularly tragic, farther-reaching, or brutal nature, there would be a special news report interruption on TV or a newspaper “extra” (which I’ll admit, is a bit before my time).
Nowadays, learning about violence is just a click away.
Innocent, lazy channel surfing lands you on news channels where the story is told over and over, sliced and diced by experts and speculators alike, with up-to-date tragedy stats on a bright red streaming ticker at the bottom of the screen. You quickly click to the next channel or turn the TV off altogether.
Awaken your computer or smart phone to surf social media. Even though you’ve gone to extremes to only follow inspirational, funny or uplifting handles, it’s still there! Inadvertently, you see the violence trending or your inspirational, funny or uplifting handles have shared it.
If you don’t like it, disconnect!
That’s what people say. Even I say it – to others… to myself. But is it realistic? Even doctor’s offices, public transit, and shopping malls have big screen TVs, invariably broadcasting a news channel. What’s a person to do?
Besides, I like channel surfing and watching funny animal videos online. I like the close connection with friends and special interest groups that social media affords. Is it just a case of taking the (sometimes very) bad with the good? How does one measure the benefits of one against the detriments of the other?
As I end this, I remind myself that there is still far more decency than deviance in the world. That while this vitriol on violence was spurred by a shooting in a home not ten minutes from where I live (that I learned about through social media), there are virtually thousands of homes between here and there in which live peaceful, loving families. Just like mine.