A Crisis of Character
Our country today seems awash in a sea of confusion and frustration over the most recent mass shootings in El Paso, TX, and Dayton, OH. It is imperative that we be very careful when the so-called experts start getting famous by blaming objects or philosophy for the social ills of the present.
The latest trend to be blamed is Social Media and Reality Television.
Moments after the shootings, talking heads claimed that social media has conditioned some of our children and young adults to go the distance in order to become the next viral video sensation. It came out recently that a significant portion of children who were surveyed said "famous" was what they wanted to be when they grew up.
Have the seeds of youth's destruction been sewn by the Internet? Is the Internet is to blame for the moral decay of American Society?... Nope. The Internet sits idle without a person using it.
In the 80's, music got the bulk of the blame for turning the youth into the soulless, lazy, drug-using shells of human beings that little Johnny and Joanie had become. The U.S. Congress had a hearing on warning labels for heavy metal music albums by AC/DC, Twisted Sister, Metallica, and Ozzie Osborn.
One witness during the Heavy Metal hearings was ‘Tipper’ Gore. She was categorically exposed as having embellished a bias truth when Twisted Sister's lead singer, Dee Snider, testified at the hearing and provided evidence that crushed Mrs. Gore's own testimony that his band contributed to the moral corruption of youth.
The 90's saw television blamed for the degenerate youth of the era. A popular TV, show on MTV called Beavis and Butthead, was said to have encouraged children to set fires and watch the burning. The broadcast WWE wrestling matches were also held accountable for countless backyard injuries that children suffered while trying to recreate their favorite moments from the shows.
The talking heads declared that children were being poisoned by the antics of wrestlers like “The Rock,” “Triple H,” and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. That soon passed when Rap music fell under the microscope the way Heavy Metal had. The push back on that blame was epic.
The early 2000's saw the epic rise of violent video games which were surely going to end in the apocalypse. Something needed to be done, the experts said.
The raise of Sony and Microsoft into the gaming world had marginalized Nintendo and pushed a once mighty Sega Video Game Empire into collapse. As the new video games became more popular, Super Mario Brothers declined as games like Grand Theft Auto ascended.
Realism became the quest for software engineers. The warning labels followed, but neither the lawmakers nor the gaming industry seemed enthusiastic with their enforcement. The next shoe to drop was violent music videos on television. That was short lived as lobbyists headed that investigation off at the pass.
The take-away from all of this is that snake oil salesmen are always about when questions arise about the state of our society. They can come in many shapes and sizes.
A special interest group, a psychologist, a celebrity, or even a corporation lurk in shadows to offer a Chicken Little solution to the notion that the sky is falling. Historically, such solutions were little more than empty plans. One only needs to look back to the 1950's comic book code for an example.
History is rife with false promises from false prophets. In the aftermath of every tragedy, social media is a blaze with blame. Blame is a convenient placebo to the ill facing our society.
The solution, as this humble writer sees it; is not a new drug covered under healthcare that mentally numbs people to the world around us. It is not a partisan zero-sum game for political power. It is not the need for creeping controls of liberty, or self-imposed censorship of thought.
The one solution to our ever more violent society stems from wisdom shared long ago. It's looking upon each other with dignity and respect.
It is doing unto others as you would have done upon yourself. There... problem solved.
"When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost." – The Rev. Billy Graham