Every week, our country has a new tragedy to mourn.
School shootings. Alleged terrorist attacks. Deaths, often times at the hands of a single person or small group.
These events are followed by a media circus.
As media consumers, we watch, horrified, hoping it never happens to us. It continues to hit close to home.
Last week, a gunman shot and killed 14 people at a work holiday party in San Bernadino.
In October, a lone gunman killed eight students and a professor at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore.
This problem isn’t new.
The problem of gun violence stems back decades. Stockton plays a role in it with the 1989 mass shooting at Cleveland Elementary, mere miles from campus.
Six children were killed. Thirty-two others were injured.
Then why are we seeing so much of it now?
It may seem the problem of gun violence is growing, but that may just be because of the relatively new 24-hour news cycle. News stations can no longer wait until the next broadcast to get the news out.
The Internet has changed the way we get information.
Today we are constantly taking in news from an endless number of outlets. Some outlets without gatekeepers.
Human nature moves us to report what we know immediately, even if its false.
This was not the case twenty years ago.
The digital revolution has changed our views on most things, including the violence in America.
Every single shooting around the globe is now fed to us as breaking headlines. We see downward shots from news helicopters showing police on the scene. We don’t have full context, yet we stayed glued to our television or computer screen.
Questions of shooters’ motives and gun control circulate the media for a few days and then die out until the next shooting happens.
Nothing gets solved, no answers are presented.
Instead, the collective audience forgets until the next event happens. Then we unite in prayer. We promise we will band together to stop it from happening again.
Then it does.
Yes, violence is a problem, but another problem is the media reporting the violence.
Attention given to shooters and bombers gives them the recognition many of them were looking for.
Even in infamy, these names become known and inspire future copy cats.
The news cycle perpetuates violence in many ways.
We need to stop endorsing the killers and instead remember those who were killed. This year’s shootings and reactions reveal that our society is very much a reactive one.
Many use these tragedies for political agendas, trying to push gun control on Americans. This is especially the case as we move into the next election year.
The taking of innocent lives should not be a platform for campaigning.
The violence level in America has not gone up, the coverage on it has.
This doesn’t make violence okay or give the shooter and terrorists any excuse.
There is clearly a violence problem in America alongside a media problem.
Let’s stop our reactive tendencies and make a move towards peace. Let’s stop putting criminals and terrorists up on a pedestal.