Why are we so curious about mass murder and the trolling comments left by people on social media? Why are we so obsessed with the negative?
In a content analysis conducted by Texas State University of the New York Times, it found that of the 91 mass shootings between 2000 and 2012 (firstly, FFS America, gun laws!?) more articles were published about the mass murderers rather than the victims. In a study by American Behavioural Scientist in 2018, (this study looked at 4,934 photos in the days after three separate mass shootings) it found that US newspapers displayed the photo of the perpetrator 16 times as often as their victims.
From my own personal observation, when I read articles about how bad trolling is on the internet, the comments of the bully and the naming of the bully occurs more than the celebration of the person who has been bullied by online trolls. It’s like we prefer to amplify the despicable comments rather than strengthen the positivity in the person that was the victim of these comments.
Journalists, take heed, by reporting in such detail about the mass murderers and bullies, you are exemplifying that behaviour. You are giving those people notoriety, and putting their heinous crimes on a pedestal. The act of sharing in great detail what the bad did wrong, and giving less of your word count to the victims, the people who tried to stop them and the heroes in these situations… you are, by your very actions, giving the world insight to what is deserving of your precious words.
You are shining the spotlight on the very thing that is all the wrong in human society.
Why do we have a whole museum dedicated to Jack the Ripper in London? A TV series about Ted Bundy? What they did to other human beings is absolutely repulsive – and we celebrate that!? WTF?
These people do not deserve to be named and made legend of. They deserve to be forgotten.
While journalists continue to focus on the murders, the bullies and their full life history – they give the commentary that if you commit a dreadful crime then you will be remembered forever. Your name will be put up in lights. The victims, the police and the heroes who tried to stop the person – their story is less relevant. This is what you are saying by the very use of your words, your air time and the images you choose to share.
Humans are negatively wired, we seek out threat as it is in our very nature of survival to understand. However, the threats we face today are far less than our ancestors as they fended off the sabre tooth tiger. By compounding the negative, it adds to modern day mental health issues. We need to celebrate the positive in humanity, the empathy and the love.
Jacinda Ardern is demonstrating to the world what strong leadership and moralistic speeches are truly made of.
‘He is a terrorist. He is a criminal. He is an extremist. But he will, when I speak, be nameless.’
‘He may have sought notoriety, but we in New Zealand will give him nothing, not even his name.’
Please, let’s stop shining the spotlight on the villains and instead focus on the poor victims, lets make them remembered forever by those that loved them. Let’s put the names of the police, the investigators and the heroes who tried to stop them up in lights. These are the names that should be remembered forever, and this is the sort of human behaviour we ought to be championing. This is where our words, our air time and our images should be focused.