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2009/02/16

What’s with all the School Shooting?

You may have noticed that I’ve started writing On This Day features and the like that revolve around school shootings. Why would I have this on a blog about gaming, you ask?

Well, unless you haven’t heard, videogames and PC games have been blamed for almost every school shooting and other related attack since Columbine. One of my missions on this blog is to oppose this myth will factual evidence, and try to get people to see that this isn’t necessarily true. Of course, I’m a gamer, I listen to heavy metal, and I like violent films, all evil things as far as politicians and parents are concerned, nowadays.

I haven’t killed anyone. I know right from wrong. I hardly ever resort to violence to settle disputes as I am conscious of the consequences, and besides, people just laugh at you if you get angry anyway.

I’ve always been one with words, sometimes spoken, but always written. It’s far more efficient and constructive for me to write and to blog. I can talk about things, get stuff off my chest, and reach more people than I would in real life. I’ve been complimented on my skills in debating and negotiation- trying to get the other party to see my way of thinking.

People blame the media because it’s easy. I have this notion that many people play games, listen to music, and watch films to get away from life for a while. It’s called escapism.

I don’t just sit around doing these things all day, but they do make up a big part of my life, just like they probably do with others too.

People who blame the media at the drop of a hat are ignoring the real issues, and these take place in real life (or in Second Life, perhaps, what with cyber-bullying). These issues are bullying in all its forms- verbal, physical, sexual, psychosocial etc, social alienation, isolation and the like.

They like to say that if we get rid of games, music, and movies that it will stop the problem and the phenomenon that is this killing business. News flash: killing would continue even if an all-out ban did occur. More people would kill others due to the overload of stress, and frustration of not being able to play games, listen to music, or watch movies and cool off, I’ll bet.

So I think that you need to get to the source, which is the real or initial cause of the person’s problems. Games, music, and movies are just activities that people use to get away from these problems. If someone did decide to go to school and shoot up a classroom, there’s no doubt that they might have been witness to violence in a game, movie, or heard about it in an mp3, but what really spurred on the feelings for them to get to that point? Sadly, schools, parents, and whoever else, are probably more likely to attack games and try to get them banned, rather than host social workshops or youth centres, compulsory seminars that encouraged tolerance and condemned bullying, banning bullying, and punishing non-compliance with expulsion or possible jail time, and solving that problem.

“My Johnny is the most popular boy in school, and he’s on the A rugby team! We give so much to this school! You can’t do this!”

“Tough tits, lady.”

Nobody ever thinks for one moment what damage other kids at school might be doing. One thing that a lot of these shootings that have taken place over the years have in common, is the fact that they were pushed around by ‘jocks’, and they wanted it to stop, but nobody listened, cared, or even knew about it. These feelings might have been exacerbated by the lack of a safe home environment, with abuse or other things going on at home. So what is a person supposed to do in the end? I know what it’s like: the fear of having to go to school every day and put up with violence, intimidation, and taunting; it is hell. And don’t laugh, because chances are you’ve either experienced it too, or you’ve made someone experience it. Yes, this does involve you. Let’s face it, if you were given the choice of either being bullied, cast out and miserable or being accepted, embraced and happy, you would very likely choose the latter option every time.

I’ve seen and even experienced this kind of anti-social behaviour practiced by the so called jocks and popular kids at school. Everyone thinks it’s perfectly normal and that we’ll all grow out of it and end up okay in the end. They fail to realize that these events shape us, and stay with us in our lives, probably until the day we die. It’s happened to people I know and am close to, after all.

Has anyone ever read an article or heard about how kids at school have died because of bullying or initiation practices? Well, it happens. What is the cause of this? Is it video games? Is it movies? Is it music? Likely the answer is ‘no’.

There’s probably more violence in schools worldwide that takes place every day than all the school shootings combined (although the massacres, even though not as often committed, do lead to more loss of life). If parents, headmasters, teachers, coaches, bosses, and whoever else just took the time to listen to pupils or employees and actually try to rectify the situation, and get to the root of the problem, and nip it in the bud, then perhaps we’d see less of the consequences of not listening and heeding the ‘warning signs’.

It’s your choice.

Let me just say that I in no way endorse the actions of the shooters, nor am I trying to shift the blame on anyone else in particular. My main aim here is to get rid of this stereotype that gamers are killers in training, and get the focus shifted on to real issues and motivators that lead to these actions.

"I wouldn't say a single word to them — I would listen to what they have to say, and that's what no one did."
   
- Marilyn Manson, in an interview with Michael Moore in “Bowling For Columbine”, a documentary that took a rather large look at the Columbine Massacre, guns, and violence in general.

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