As I’m from Connecticut, and very close to a reporter who has been covering the tragedy in Newtown, I follow the coverage of the event (and the coverage of the coverage) with great interest. In truth, most of us do, because even as it fades in memory it remains both horrifying and perplexing, evoking complex responses from those of us who pay attention.
Two things came across my desk in the last 24 hours (came across my desk being code for “came across my Twitter feed”) that irked me, one subtly, and one explicitly. Let’s start with the explicit annoyance: the conspiracy theory.
The link above refers specifically to one particular version of the conspiracy theory, one that rightly advises we should be critical of media reports and that wrongly interprets lack of said scrutiny as evidence that the shooting didn’t happen.
I’m sorry what?
After typing that last line I sat for a few minutes still baffled, trying to come up with an articulate way to go on. My guess is that few of the people who agree with that theory live near the site, or know people who died, or know people who know people who died, or know people who worked on the investigation or who were in the area immediately following the event. It’s easy, from afar, to pretend that something didn’t happen.
I suppose I should just be happy that I am able to separate fantasy from reality. A few years ago when we lost two family members, I spent a few days imagining that they had to go into witness protection and weren’t actually dead. Then I realized that was absurd and got on with my life. It’s one thing to imagine alternate endings, it’s another to become convinced they must be true.
Once we start imagining any possible situation that fits our ideology, we plunge down the rabbit hole. Maybe it actually happened, but maybe the Obama administration planted a microchip in Adam Lanza’s brain to make him do it so the government could take your guns!! Maybe that’s it! Someone out there is thinking that. And thinking about them makes me into an angry, ugly person.
So I’ll stop thinking about them and turn to this article, condemning a video game buy-back in CT that has since been cancelled. The article is thoughtful, extensively researched, and more eloquent than I am going to be. I suppose I’m not really upset about the article itself, but about the backlash, because as the article states
the program’s founder is Max Goldstein, a 12-year-old who, while attending the funeral of a boy murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary, resolved that the violent games he loved were just too real to take after Adam Lanza’s shooting spree.
You don’t have to agree with this kid. You can still like video games. I’m not judging you. But here was a kid who decided that something in his live wasn’t good for him, and he wanted to give them up. This is the kind of thing I try to encourage in young people, every year when Lent rolls around, and beyond. We fast from those things that don’t enrich our lives. To want to do that is noble and mature.
But instead he gets piled on for trying to give other people who might feel the same way (and there are those of us who do. I try not to use violence as entertainment, which might be less remarkable than a 12-year-old boy making the same statement) an opportunity and incentive to purge the things that they think are harmful to them.
Even if his sentiment was later used by adults with an agenda, it’s darn impressive in its own right. Now other adults with an opposing agenda have pounced on it too. I suppose I was just annoyed because self-awareness and bravery became obscured by the same fights we always have.
What are your thoughts on either of these news items? And was there anything else notable that I missed in the news this week?
How did you know i would chime in here? I didnt know the part about the kid who organized this (poorly thought out) game burning. But the article (and you) seem to imply he came to this conclusion in a vacuum. Ironically the influence of video games is far less clear than the influence of being repeatedly told something (i.e. the proven fallacy that violent video games cause aggression). The backlash may be less against this specific kids actions and more a consistent backlash of a community of gamers who are tired of being told we are all more prone to violent acts than anyone else. I applaud the kid for wanting to DO something. I think in the wake of this tragedy its something we all feel. But that desire to do something is often misdirected (see your conspiracy nuts)
As always, thoughtful comments from friends make me clarify my own thoughts. Here’s what I take issue with: the idea that if someone discerns that something (in this case violent video games) are “bad for them” in some way, that their discernment can’t be authentic. This irks me because I am one of those people who tries to avoid things that I don’t feel enrich me, even if it’s counter-cultural or “weird”. So while you look at him and assume that he is being influence by the anti-video game lobby, I assume that he has been introspective and has honestly come to this conclusion.
And with that, I officially feel icky about having armchair-psychologized a kid I don’t know. But I’ll continue to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he came to his conclusions authentically.
But introspection on such would have lead to him doing it himself not organizing an event for others…
As for introspection on game violence. This article made me rethink some things. http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2012/12/28/why-arent-we-discussing-videogame-violence/
I sincerely believe that the belief in a causality between violent media and violence is a straw man. But the reasons we are drawn to violent media is a more compelling discussion that may have its roots in the problems we face.