In the biography of Walter Cronkite by Douglas Brinkley, there are countless examples on verifying facts and stories without rushing to microphones, including the death of President John F. Kennedy, November 22, 1963. The restraint allowed for integrity of journalism in an age where it took a long time “just to warm up television cameras.” What happened last Friday was tragic and important to report but in every turn and click on the twitter feed was even more tragic to see how low media and culture has sunk in reporting to news. A few weeks ago in Colorado Springs, the police had to ask media outlets not to report on a hostage situation because it fueled the social media engine of the captor. The interactive and social-media savvy criminal, gave himself up and the situation ended peacefully because he did not receive the attention he craved in holding his girlfriend hostage.
New Twitter highs and lows
In covering the Newtown story many professional and “citizen” journalists received hundreds of updates, opinions and sickening posts from #Newtown at the same time as getting updates from other news sources. In the midst of the confusing feeds “reliable sources” reported the shooter’s wrong identity; how many people were shot; possible motives, additional crime scenes, that the mother of the shooter was the teacher of the class, that the father of the shooter was killed, that there were additional crime scenes, the girlfriend of the shooter was missing and that there was more than on shooter. This prompted a local law enforcement official, Paul Vance to say, “One of the things that is becoming a concern is misinformation is being posted on social media sites.”Vance noted that in some cases, people had set up social media accounts falsely belonging to the gunman or other people connected to the case. “It has been threatening, it has been inaccurate, it has been people posing as other people,” Vance said. This kind of behavior will be traced and those responsible “could be subject to arrest”, he added.
Self-control is the issue
While gun control may be an issue, the matter of self-control and helping people with emotional and mental issues may be a better question to ask ourselves. A New York producer told DMC that “The ACLU protects individual rights at the peril and the safety of the public,” and in this case the public included “20 innocent six and seven year-old babies.” The main concern according to many people is what little ‘self control’ we have and how many ‘privacy statements’ lawyers are paid to compose to protect people from getting the help they need from their families, professionals and even the church. Analysts are saying that this reason may be the key to the puzzling rise to a nation that is “out of control” and media and culture that endorse violence and a culture of death. In between the mourning for the kids and teachers and reports of condolences the major networks aired commercials for a violent video game for Christmas and a most violent advertisement for a slasher film coming out for Christmas.
Media and culture
Media feeds culture and by what content people are fed is how the culture behaves. How media is tracked and measured comes into question to what people want or what they need. People are fed enormous amounts of information and misinformation, minute by minute through a growing number of outlets onto an even more diverse amount of devices. What a relativist-truth and value culture believes is something too many overdose on. What happens when an intellectually disabled person who can plan and devise elaborate end game strategies but cannot understand reality and values or the difference between good and evil? When guns become the bonding between a mother and her brilliant but emotionally disturbed child? We tragically experienced the results of an out of control version of a family situation where no one” had the right to intervene or help.
When violent games become the instrument used while spending time in isolation; and when people become connected only by their ear buds and cell phones, instead of being connected to their neighbors and their communities, we have as a movie character once said a “failure to communicate.” No matter what the proposal for gun control might be and no matter what areas of mental health are addressed in the aftermath of this tragedy, both needed, but are only symptoms of a deeper escapism issue. Until there is a fundamental mind and heart change in our families and our communities all the legislation in the world won’t solve the problem of an out of control media that feeds an out of control culture.
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