OFFERING HELP TO PEOPLE WHO THINK LIFE IS A GAME
Matt Walsh at the Daily Wire has a keen insight into the epidemic of horrific mass shootings that have hit our country in the last fifteen years or so. His research points to the “gamification of terror:” people who constantly play violent games on the Internet become part of a culture that glorifies and even enjoys killing others. It’s not just the violent quality of the games themselves; it’s the community of people they join online. Together, they desensitize one another to human tragedy.
They become so entrenched in their Internet world that they simply go out into the world beyond the computer and play the same games, only with real people. It sounds obscene and almost unbelievable, but based on what I have seen in people who make a home on the Internet, I think it is unfortunately true. I think we have a whole generation of people among us who consider Life to be a game. They “play’ being married. They “play’ being a parent. They “play’ working a job. And if they are part of an online community that practices violence, they “play” mass shooting.
I think those of us who were not born and raised on the computer have something to offer these people. We have a strong hold on the value and importance of people, of individuals, of human expertise. Of the human community in the physical world outside the silicon. We know the vital contribution professionals in finance, medicine, law, and other fields can make. More than ever, I think it is up to us to provide guidance and wisdom to the people who unfortunately rely on the Internet for their grooming and upbringing.
Here are some of Matt’s points from the article:
“It is indeed an epidemic. Mass shootings are still exceedingly rare, but the fact remains that 20 of the 27 deadliest mass shootings in American history have happened in the last 15 years. Since the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, this country has seen 9 of the 13 deadliest shootings in its history. The worst one ever was two years ago. The second worst was the year before that. It’s true that the media tries to grossly (in multiple senses of the word) inflate mass shooting statistics by counting gang violence in the total, but the numbers are still extraordinary even without being manipulated to prove a political point. For some reason, shootings like El Paso and Dayton are way, way more common today than they were 20 years ago or anytime previous. That is not debatable. The only debatable question is why.”
“At bottom, the answer is that we have become a country filled with numb, detached, and desensitized people. Mass shootings are the ultimate manifestation of that detachment. Our reaction to them — rhetorically slinging dead bodies at each other to score points in a political argument — is a slightly less severe but very much related manifestation. A survivor of the El Paso shooting reports that the shooter casually smirked before unloading on a crowd of innocent people. This echoes many other reports from many similar shootings. The killer is always smirking like he’s slightly amused, or else he’s blank-faced and emotionless. Rarely do you get a picture of someone running around enraged and screaming. We call these acts of “hate,” but they are much more acts of brutal, murderous indifference. These are empty, numb, detached people slaughtering their fellow humans because they are bored and frustrated with their meaningless lives.”
“A fascinating and disturbing article from Robert Evans details how the users on the message board where the El Paso shooter liked to spend his time not only cheer on these killing sprees but discuss them like the innocent people being butchered are just characters in a video game. Evans calls it the “gamification” of terror. You could just as well call it the “internetification” of terror. Mass shooters are simply translating their internet personas into the real world. People on internet forums, social media, YouTube, and other sites routinely wish death and worse on each other. “Kill yourself” and “I hope you get cancer” are almost standard greetings at this point. But what’s often lost in all of this mundane vitriol is that actual human beings are saying this stuff to other actual human beings. After a while you get so used to being treated this way, and maybe so used to treating others this way, that you no longer appreciate the dignity and beauty of human life. It is not hard to see how someone who spends hour upon hour and year upon year wallowing in the darkest and vilest corners of cyberspace, treating other humans like filth, wishing violence and death on anyone who crosses them, may eventually become the monsters they already appear to be online.”