On GCHH this week, Andy, Fondre, and Pinnick discussed an article by Tom Bissell that brought up a good conversation on Desensitization. And I agreed with the hosts in how they deal with it in their lives.
That was until today when I heard about the shooting in Colorado. My first thought was "Sucks to be them." That was soon followed by, "It would be hilarious if the guy in riot gear wore a Cowl and Cape".
And it wasn't until I saw a tweet by @VeryRudeTweets and the comments from @djpimpdaddy and @earlyfilms that I realized I was wrong in my reaction.
"#theatershooting 17 people died at the premiere of "The Dark Knight Rises" in Colorado. 3D really is getting more realistic."
Dj and Linux unfollowed and denounced the tweet. At first I thought it was hilarious. It was right in line with my joke about a Russian hockey team named Lokomotiv that all died in a plane crash "They would be fine if they had taken a Locomotiv." A joke I made just hours after they had crashed.
Today though I had a similiar reaction, it occurred to me that this massacre happened in my country. The one I chose to defend, and the one I love. And so I thought back on 9/11 and how at the tender age of 19 I had a very different reaction. It was anger and bloodlust for those responsible. To me that seems like a more acceptable response to the situation than I had to the Colorado shooting.
So now I am left with questions.
Am I a good person? Undoubtedly I am not as bad as last night's shooter is. But I am not nearly as good as I considered myself before this morning.
Was the media I chose to ingest a factor in the change of reaction I had? It must have had some influence, but how much? I have watched and played many violent things over the 11 years since 9/11. But also over that time period I have become a softy for warm moments such as a Dad coming back from the war front to surprise his children in school with his return. (I am even tearing up now thinking about it)
Do I blame my father who the same reactions that I do? I don't think that would be fair. While him and I are very similar, he had very little influence over my 6 years in the Navy and the four years its been very limited in the 4 years since I moved out of the house.
Lets say it was Media. Everything from GTA3 and the Sopranos to Walking Dead and Game of Thrones. I have killed countless human subjects in video gmaes. Hell I have almost 1200 hours played in Team Fortress 2 alone. Has watching all this murder and gore and dealing with the trolls of such games made me so hateful of the human race that I don't once think about the victim's families involved in this morning's shooting? Has the 24 hour news cycle with live shots of war coming from half a world away done this to me?
While I wrote that last line I remembered something from third grade. It was 1991 and my teacher asked us to type a letter to Saddam Hussien. I remember the line "I like war" being in it. Could I be messed up from that long ago?
There have been many times I took great enjoyment in killing in GTA 3. Typing in the code "givemeatank" did just that. I would then get on a long road and kill as many federal agents as I could. Crushed civilians and cops alike laughing merrily along the way.
I've had particularly violent thoughts when things don't go my way as well. From hitting someone in the knee as hard as I can in hockey, to throwing an elbow into a guy's face in Gaelic football.
Perhaps this is all a result of media influence and a culture that sees not just video game and cartoony violence but one that see real violence on a daily basis.
Perhaps the best thing I can do is to avoid my new purchase of Saints Row the Third and instead place a nice game of Tetris.