It is hard to imagine that Donald Trump has been the level-headed one in the aftermath of the Florida Massacre. Proposing to arm teachers is not the best idea anyone ever had. But unlike the traditional press who blame all of society's woes on just gun control and nothing else, he has brought up more complex reasons -- and more than one. Mental illness is one. Violence in games and movies is another.
The Guardian took issue and haughtily decreed that violence in games does not cause violence in real life.
Oh, I would very much disagree with that sentiment.
I studied psychology and sociology, and I do remember my lessons well. You learn that human beings adopt to their surroundings and adjust. People are followers by nature. When in Rome is a way many people function.
Modelling is the term used when discussing how children learn to assimilate to their surroundings. They watch others, and then they mimic what they see.
Jean Piaget noticed it. So too did Albert Bandura whose ground-breaking experiment showed that when presented with violence, children copied what they saw.
Children watched a video of a grown woman beating up a Bobo doll.
They were presented with the same doll.
What did they do?
You can see from the pictures what boys and girls did: beat it up -- and with relish.
And they beat up the doll the same way as the adult in the movie. The film was the visual memo, and they got the message.
You immerse a generation in violence, you create a path for them to take. There is no question of this truth. Even watching horror movies and other violent films has physiological effects on the brain.
In their tit-for-tat feud with Trump, they are taking things off the table that, in fact, need to be discussed -- and it is a discussion that is long overdue.
We have films, movies, books, shows, and video games that have entrenched antagonistic thinking patterns. We have games where the protagonist (the hero) takes weapons and blows people's heads off with it, and "wins."
And you are telling me exposure to this kind of thinking doesn't spill over to disturbed minds who are tired of losing, and are looking to "win"?
Of course it does.
It is not the only factor, but when you have a society that condones, tolerates, and even glorifies violence, you can expect consequences that has a body count.
Just like in the movies and games. How many video games require the player to kill everyone in the game -- all of the enemies who all often look alike.
Virtual genocidal hate crimes for fun and points.
It wouldn't hurt to curb that kind of story structure in popular culture. It would be a breath of fresh air if our ideas of conflict resolution didn't involve a rocket launcher.
The US would accomplish more if it didn't politicize this problem and both sides didn't come into it with an attitude problem.
Journalists are supposed to be gathering facts -- not making decrees based on zero research. Had they the proper training in psychology, for example, they wouldn't be relying on a gaming critic on making an uninformed opinion for them.
They be asking the question: how does fictional violence shape the way young people think?
Perhaps it would be a minimal. Or perhaps it is significant to certain group.
If we had facts, we could formulate a solution.
Instead, we have nags and nannies in lieu of information-gatherers, and we no more informed than we were before, even if the number of dead children keeps rising for no good reason at all.