The top news headlines on a popular Web site are “2 policemen killed, 7 wounded”, “Bombing of Pakistani government bus kills 8” and “100 militants killed in Afghanistan.” Similar stories will be seen on CNN and local news stations.
What effect does this have on the consumers of this media? Does it somehow inspire people to aggression? Does it subconsciously convince people they need to buy a gun for protection? No. It makes them collectively say to themselves “I’m glad its not me” and “It’s not my problem.”
The bombardment of violence in the news, movies and television isn’t a call to action, but rather a call to apathetic inaction. When the media only shows us the negative and violent content, it gives the impression the entire world is abandoning the idea of the golden rule. The golden rule has changed to “Why should I help someone else if they aren’t willing to do the same?”
A 78-year-old man was a victim of a hit and run as he was walking across a Hartford, Connecticut, street earlier this year. The man is now paralyzed after the incident, but that’s not the worst part. After he was hit, the man lay motionless in the middle of the street as cars caught a glimpse of him in pain and continued driving. Pedestrians paused on the sidewalk to look at the man, but continued to go about their own business. Eventually a police officer found the man and took him to a hospital.
Interesting how the only person who ended up helping this poor man was someone who gets paid to help people. Upon seeing the video, the mayor of Hartford said, “We have lost our moral compass.” I couldn’t have put it better myself.
Media violence isn’t going to generate violent tendencies in the population. But it will more likely change how we act in certain situations. Good people want to keep away from violence in all situations, and sadly that sometimes means not intervening and helping where help is needed.
We have all seen a terrible car accident on
the road as it happened, or right after it happened. We drive by really slow and let it all sink in. Why don’t we stop and help? Why don’t we take time to help one another out? Because it’s not our problem.
I remember going to a department store with my father when I was really young. There was a shoplifter running toward the entrance and my father tackled the man and held him down until security came. I am confident that my father would act in a similar manner should that situation arise again, but I am equally confident that more often than not, people would let the shoplifter run past simply because it’s “not their problem.”
Violence in the media does not inspire violent acts. People commit acts of violence because of the situations they have put themselves in. They are feeble acts of desperation, not copycat acts from movies or television.
Hopefully we can all find the courage to do the right thing — because good people not doing the right thing is “everybody’s problem.”