Predictable: The Fragmented Media Will Give Us All Our Post-Oregon-Shooting Outrage Blankets

from the two-minutes-hate dept

As you no doubt have heard by now, and as we already tangentially discussed earlier, there has been yet another mass shooting in America. This time, it came to Oregon, where a single gunmen made his way into a community college and managed to murder nine innocent people, injure others, before his own life was extinguished, either by his own hand or by those of law enforcement. And, as we wake up the next morning, anyone with any interest in civil society and culture grapples with the story. President Obama remarked that these stories have become routine, seeming to suggest that everyone has become numb to these events, accepting them as part of the American life. He’s wrong about that. Desperately and importantly wrong. Instead, the truth is that the public is the opposite of numb. The public is angry. Unfortunately, because of the way that a fragmented and ideologically aligned media landscape has emerged in the past two decades or so, we all end up angry about different things, with our outrage stoked and guided in avenues that put us at odds with those that have had their outrage stoked and guided in entirely different avenues.

Predicting these avenues is trivially easy. A cursory glance at the story of a mass shooting and the media reaction to it provides everything required to act as a Nostradamus for the outrage outlets we will see. Over the next few days, we’ll hear stories about the gunmen being from a broken family, with traditional family breakdown serving as a punching bag for remorse. Some outlets will discuss the shooter’s video game hobby. Or his interest in horror movies and novels. Some outlets will focus on his access to guns, while others will focus on his reported targeting of Christians and religion. Still others will scream “false flag!”, sadly undermining the very real lives lost and lives shattered through injury and terror. Too many of us, a majority of us, will ingest the news of the shooting in the medium and outlets of our choice, chosen specifically because that medium and outlet feeds us the meal we want the way we want it. Cable news started this, of course, planting flags of partisanship in a realm once at least thought to be dominated by facts. Spin-masters will work their magic, taking dead bodies and boldly morphing them into causes and outrage. Meanwhile, the shooter gets exactly what these shooters want: fame. Rather than employing the seriously genius “some asshole initiative” by refusing to name these shooters or focus on them in any way, we’ll do the opposite and turn on the spotlights. We will be distracted.

Put another way: we will retreat. Retreat away from the horror of death and into the comforting arms of the outrage that lets us feel like it all means something else to us. Here’s what you’ll see. A discussion about guns will arise before quickly falling away and nothing will happen. A conversation about 4chan, and other internet sites, and whether or not more needs to be done to police the internet looking for potential killers will be sparked, but nothing will happen. Some will lament the decline and/or targeting of religion in America, wondering aloud, stupidly, if too much religion or not enough of it is responsible for the killings, but nothing will happen. Violent media, be it games, movies, or novels will be trotted out as sacrificial lambs for our anger, but nothing will happen. From the fringe will be another crowd, bleating that none of this actually happened and that it’s all fake news and actors playing out a game of gun-snatching that never seems to actually materialize, because nothing ever happens.

Why? Because we retreat to fragmented media and mediums that focus our outrage onto the target of our choice. Facts matter little if at all, as one can tell by the speed with which reports and reporters begin funneling our outrage. This is a problem, one started by mass media and continued, unfortunately, on the internet. There’s nothing wrong with choice, of course, when it comes to us choosing our media outlets. The problem as I see it is when the choices become fragmented by political or ideological lines. The fact that we can name a media outlet and guess with an unfortunate amount of accuracy exactly what spin will be put on the reporting of a mass shooting is a problem. The answer to that problem is, as usual, the dropping of ideology, of political dogma, of the retreat. So, as you read the news about this reporting in the coming weeks, notice the rush to find factors of blame and reject them.

The news is that this was a tragedy. The sad news isn’t just that we’re not going to do anything about it, but rather that we’re not going to do anything about it even though we all have a cause in it.

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Comments on “Predictable: The Fragmented Media Will Give Us All Our Post-Oregon-Shooting Outrage Blankets”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Can someone tell them...

That the problem is that the American people are sick and tired of them stick words in our mouths on how to solve the damn problem!

We are WELL aware that the soulless politicians see this as nothing more than another opportunity to get another law written to destroy the constitution further.

For them, it is never let a terrible situation go to waste. They ABSOLUTELY LIVE for mass murder, knocked over towers, and tragedy!

Ehud Gavron (profile) says:

Faming the guilty

When a terrorist event occurs in Israel they report the details and the next day mortar and cement shows up to replace the rubble.

Here we build monuments to terror, raze schools to the ground, and play the terrorist’s name endlessly, showcasing them, their manifesto, and their family.

Perhaps it’s time to take a lesson from our allies across the pond and quit turning the terror circus spigot on at a moment’s notice for cheap and tawdry ratings.

When TV networks stopped showing streakers at baseball games the habit stopped — nobody got famous for it, just arrested. Naked.

This was in a gun-free zone.
The whole United States is a crime-free zone.
Drugs are sold in drug-free zones.
Legislation won’t solve this. Public attitude will.

My sympathies for the families.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Faming the guilty

Yea, I am so tired of the reverence for Death this nation has.

We constantly raise a monument for every little thing. Traveling down the road you can see wreaths and crosses where people have met their end.

I will never go to freedom tower for it is really a monument to the dead and a symbol of tyranny.

Anonymous discusted guy. says:

Re: Faming the guilty

Nail — > head — > 1 stroke.

This guy got everything right. I agree.

Everytime kind of thing happens, I quit watching the news. I really only like watching the weather and sports anyway. They shrink sports and weather to nothing, so they can glorify the asshole.

Mention it on the news, and forget about it is what they should do.
If he lives, and there’s a trial. Mention the trial when it starts, and tell us about the verdict when it’s done. No day by day half hour report on the testimonies. Quit turning them into a supervillin, and most of these will stop. They’re copycats.

Michael Long (profile) says:

Re: Faming the guilty

“This was in a gun-free zone.”

Sorry, but no. Not only was Umpqua Community College NOT a gun free zone by law, there were also people with guns on campus at the time of the massacre.

But according to reports, by the time one of the individuals with a gun was aware of the shooting, the SWAT team had already responded. Concerned that police would view him as a “bad guy” and target him, so he quickly retreated back into the classroom.

As Oregon is one of seven states that allows concealed carry on postsecondary campuses, you might try getting your facts straight before repeating falsehoods.

You are, however, right about one thing: Sooner or later, public attitude WILL solve this.

JMT says:

Re: Re: Faming the guilty

“But according to reports, by the time one of the individuals with a gun was aware of the shooting, the SWAT team had already responded. Concerned that police would view him as a “bad guy” and target him, so he quickly retreated back into the classroom.”

Smart guys like this are probably why you never hear about a shooter being taken down by an armed bystander. The “more guns on site” solution so often proposed after these events has the potential to make things even worse. You have multiple people walking around with guns looking for someone else with a gun. The potential for these armed “defenders” to start shooting at each other or be shot at by cops is huge.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Faming the guilty

When a terrorist event occurs in Israel they report the details and the next day mortar and cement shows up to replace the rubble.

I was thinking the same thing about Canada. We even blank out streakers at football games. However, in the USA, it’s 24/7 news coverage on all channels with lots of “Take away their guns, damnit! Screw the 2nd amendment.”

What a nutbar country they’ve turned into. We’re going to have to do something about them one day. Or, maybe they’ll just implode (we can hope).

Yakko Warner (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Reluctant? They’re practically tripping over themselves not to follow suit. Here’s CNN (as just one example) going right from that sheriff’s statement, to proudly announcing that they are reporting his name: (The YouTube uploader bleeped his name out.)

And then they go and read his statement about how you get more press with a higher kill count, totally oblivious to how they’re just giving him exactly what he wants.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

The shooter gave the media what they want, and then they give him what he wanted. It looks like a quid pro quo, but I’d like to think the media particpates wholly out of immediate self interest without regard for impact on the future. I’d rather believe they’re irresponsible than outright insane.

Mark Wing (user link) says:

Don’t forget all the people who believe that mass shootings are a sign that we need more guns. If only the teachers, students, mascots, acquaintances and school visitors had all been armed with bazookas, then this tragedy could’ve been prevented. Oh, and more armored vehicles and tactical equipment, because fear.

So, at least the insanity covers the whole range of the spectrum. No rational thought is safe during these national tragedies.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

While I agree that the argument for more guns is mostly an idiotic statement, the fact remains that almost every single mass shooting in US history was perpetrated in gun-free zones.

The Colorado shooter scouted several theaters before settling on the one that had the no firearms sign posted.
Out of all the movie theaters within 20 minutes of his apartment showing the new Batman movie that night, it was the only one where guns were banned. In Colorado, individuals with permits can carry concealed handguns in most malls, stores, movie theaters, and restaurants. But private businesses have the right to allow or deny permit holders carrying guns on their private property.

No matter the reasons, the outrage, or the excuses the media and others will spout over the next several months, this was a tragedy. I feel deep sadness for the families of those affected by the actions of the obviously troubled soul that perpetrated this heinous act.


Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

let me help you out, if a criminal wants a gun you will will not be preventing them from getting one.

No amount of background check which are against the constitution will stop it.
No amount of laws attempting to control them which are against the constitution will stop it.
No amount of hand wringing and crying will stop it!

If someone wants you dead bad enough then you are likely to die! They can kill you with a gun, a car, train, truck, pipe, bat, knife, sword, dagger, fork or a fucking spoon!

Guns are equalizers… and you damn sure bet NO ONE like the playing field to be equal. Criminals LOVE gun control laws, it makes their profession easier!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

You failed to address the point I was making, how do the people carrying the legal guns distinguish between friend and foe when they do not know everybody at the scene, especially when they are panicky because bullets are flying?
Starting a fire fight in a crowd where there are armed people who can react to the shooting without seeing who started it is likely to result in a disaster. While the original shooter may not survive long, their death will not necessarily stop the shooting. Armed people in that situation are likely to shoot at any perceived threat.

steell (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Where do you get your knowledge concerning those who carry handguns? Video games? Do you actually know anyone that carries a handgun? I do, and a lot of them.

First, no one that I know would pull out their weapon without having a target in mind, as it makes you an instant target for the bad guy. Second, everyone that I know takes the carrying of a gun really seriously, the consequences of shooting the wrong person are horrible,unless you’re a cop.

“Armed people in that situation are likely to shoot at any perceived threat.” and what, pray tell, makes you such an expert that you can say what I and others are “Likely” to do?

Just because you may panic at the sound of a backfire does not mean that any other person will.

JMT says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

“First, no one that I know would pull out their weapon without having a target in mind, as it makes you an instant target for the bad guy.”

BS. If you go looking for an active shooter, you don’t do it with your weapon still concealed. That would be absolutely insane.

“Second, everyone that I know takes the carrying of a gun really seriously, the consequences of shooting the wrong person are horrible,unless you’re a cop.”

“Taking it seriously” while talking with your mates is quite different to actually being confronted by someone with a gun when you’re looking for an active shooter. If you both decide the other is a threat, the situation could escalate very very rapidly.

“…and what, pray tell, makes you such an expert that you can say what I and others are “Likely” to do?”

Right back at ya. You don’t know better than anyone else how someone you don’t know will react. Your acquaintance with some gun owners is irrelevant.

“Just because you may panic at the sound of a backfire does not mean that any other person will.”

Considering that likelihood that nobody you know has ever been in a life-or-death situation with their gun, you have no idea how competently they will react. Practicing at a shooting range falls a long way short of military or police training for situations like this.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

Practicing at a shooting range falls a long way short of military or police training for situations like this.

Considering police are shooting unarmed, fleeing civilians in the back or strangling them on camera these days, they’re obviously not getting the training we need them to get, such as when to shoot or not shoot. I’d feel a lot safer around military these days (which is pretty wierd). I know what they think their job is. It seems police are a crapshoot. That recent mess in Waco pretty much sums it up to me.

Gothenem (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Yeah. Um, no. Look, I do not live in America, I live in a country that has gun control laws. The number of shootings in my country is less than the number of shootings in the closest US city.

In fact, at one point, there was a news article in the local newspaper that we had no homicides (gun, car, train, truck, pipe, bat, knife, sword, dagger, fork, spoon, etc.) for 22 months (that’s almost 2 years). Meanwhile, less than 1 mile away, in a US City (I live in a border town), THAT SAME DAY, there were 16 homicides.

16 homicides in one day – vs. 22 months of 0 homicides. 12 of those 16 homicides involved a firearm.

Guns are designed for one purpose – to kill. Giving more people guns will only increase the killing. Some will be accidental, but most will be intentional.

Sorry, but gun control laws DO reduce gun violence. No, it will not end it, but it WILL reduce it.

JoeCool (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

And what country/city are you referring to? I know it’s not Mexico as it has a higher gun-death rate than the US. If you’re talking about Canada, it’s not quite one fifth the rate as the US, so if you’re in Canada, you’re probably comparing a tiny town to a major city. Also, 16 deaths in one day means you cherry picked one major bad day in a major city simply because it makes your town look even better.

Also, gun control laws in Canada aren’t THAT much different than the US and have been made more lax in the last few years.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Ugh.

gun control laws DO reduce gun violence.

And banning cars would reduce car crashes.

And locking people away from mountains would reduce mountaineering accidents.

At least some of these are worth the risk. And as I’ve noted before, human beings are crap for deciding what is too dangerous to be worth the risk and what isn’t, hence why violent video games have to be sold behind counters in Germany.

One might make an argument that eliminating guns reduces violence in general, if we actually had stats from an objective source that could measure risk of violence when there are guns, and risk of violence when there are no guns, but plenty of tire irons, meat cleavers and farming implements around.

We don’t have those stats. And a lot of folks that produce stats are about as impartial as the oil industry is about climate change.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Consitutional protection.

I think the argument from foreign opinions is that our right to keep and bear arms is a mistake, and that we should remove that right from the US Bill of Rights.

In that regard it’s not enough that our right is codified within the constitution, but why. And this is not a thing well understood within nations that were not elevated by revolution. Our framers predicted that our system would return to a feudal one with segregated castes, and they were right. Our right to bear arms was to keep our representatives nervous, and it didn’t keep them nervous enough.

Our own history has shown a deterioration of that right (which started with militias bearing the same weapons as armies) and a corresponding deterioration of the respect of the people. I can’t say it correlates. But I do know that we’re seeing that same kind of administrative disrespect the world over, including from those nations with gun control, with no mention of what to do about it.

In the meantime, I would challenge whether the constitutionality means very much anymore. Even though constitutional rights were supposed to be a line that no law had crossed, now it is only a mechanism by which our courts use (and use inconsistently) to overturn laws.

In the last two administrations we’ve seen open refusal of our right to be secure in [our] persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures. Even probable cause is something a law officer tries to invoke before getting a warrant rather than in order to get a warrant.

Also the whole thing of civil forfeiture seems to bypass constitutional protections with prejudice.

So does mass surveillance and this push against encryption

So does extrajudicial detention and interrogation

So does the whole trade agreement secret laws hack.

So I think the Constitution of the United States is now in the but some animals are more equal than others phase of its lifespan. It’s a device for the continuation of politics, not a rule of the land that we hold sacred.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Consitutional protection.

The detractors see (and misrepresent, and blow all out of proportion) what can be done with a gun by an aggressor. They ignore what a gun can do in defense of the innocent. They’re perverted. Oh, and “Lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

I like to imagine a little old lady walking home at night after babysitting her grandchildren all day. Damned right she should have the right to pack a gun.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Ugh.

One might make an argument that eliminating guns reduces violence in general …

Not a very good one. It seems not a weekend goes by that I’m not reading of knife fights in bars over the weekend in downtown Toronto. Eliminate guns and they’ll resort to knives, baseball bats, their fists, … There might be something to the argument for proscribing automatic weapons (to minimize the potential innocent bystanders) but even that’s a bandaid solution. A determined killer will not be slowed by details like that. Marc Lepin used a rifle after all. How fast can you reload a rifle? The Columbine Kids had bombs they didn’t find time to use. the other other Mike says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

The way you word that almost sounds like everyone carrying is timebomb. Generally speaking in a shooting like this, it’s the guy welding the gun, even before shooting, that is the bad guy.

If law abiding citizens carry, they can draw down. If he wants to die, he’ll basically commit suicide by proxy. If he doesn’t, maybe he’ll stand down.

Even if a legal ccw holder DOES shoot and killed him, it would be justifiable self defense of not only him/herself but also the public. And the gunman would be neutralized and tragedy averted.

NOW, I wasn’t going to join this debate in this story because it’s not meant to spark gun rights debate. But all this said, i, as a gun rights advocate, am not opposed to training of. Firearm when getting a ccw. Because, as any physical object, a gun in untrained hands or the hands of someone that just wants to be cool can be as dangerous as a criminal on a mass shooting spree.

Michael Long (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Was the “gun free zone” a factor in Aurora?

One might note that there was an armed presence at both Columbine and Virginia Tech, and yet those two schools were targeted anyway.

If armed guards are not always a deterrent, would a determined attacker shift targets simply because of the possibility there could be be a civilian with a gun in this particular theater? More to the point, would an attacker wearing a ballistic helmet, body armor, and armed with an assault weapon and two Glock pistols even care?

The assertion that Holmes bypassed the two “closest” theaters specifically to choose the Cinemark is not particularly telling, given that the first was a smaller Hispanic-audience theater and the second a dinner theater.

Nor can we give much weight to the fact that Holmes ignored the “largest” theater in his immediate area. The lack of nearby parking and the constant flow of pedestrians, traffic, and armed patrols around all sides of the building would have made the Harkins a much riskier target.

The Cinemark Century 16, however, was a major theater close to home. It was known. The rear of the building was private and secluded, and Holmes could park just feet away from the theater’s emergency exit.

It was perfect.

identiconAnonymous discusted guy again. says:

Re: Re:

More guns isn’t the answer, But – restricting guns in specific areas is a bad thing also. If someone has a concealed carry, he shouldn’t be restricted from keeping it with him while going to school, or the store etc. Arming every teacher isn’t a solution either. then someone will just steal the teacher’s gun and do something stupid.

I’d rather see someone who has a gun shoot someone when he’s trying to be a supervillin, then see * folks shot.

Another Anonymous Coward says:

Disaster Porn

Good analysis Mike. I have coined a term for the media (and presumably public) fascination with mass murders and other natural catastrophes — disaster porn. As a society we have some fscked up priorities, and it may be a chicken:egg paradox with the media vs the public and who wants such heavy coverage of these events.

I don’t see the pendulum swinging away anytime in the near future. Not in the hyper-realized, “if it bleeds it leads” mentality that our 24-hour media has concocted to fill the public airwaves with their nonsense. I tune all such shizzle out. As a society we collectively engage in virtual rubbernecking every time disaster strikes, and there should be no wonder that the incidence of such strikes continues to rise. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle of codependance. We need to say “enough is enough” and turn away from our worst tendencies. Ain’t gonna happen, but one can hope. I’m not advocating a head in the sand approach, rather that we deprioritize death and destruction and stop glorifying the same. As a sociaty, we reap collectively what we sow collectively.

ottermaton (profile) says:

Re: Disaster Porn

Good analysis Mike.

That wasn’t Mike.

I have coined a term … disaster porn

Oooooh! That’s soooooo clever! It’s not like anyone else ever thought of taking a term and combining it with the word “porn” to illustrate an obsession with something. How DO you come up with such startlingly unique ideas?

I tune all such shizzle out.

Ah, the common refrain of faux intelligentsia who wish to appear more serious and profound than the rest of the world. I see that you are above all that.

Give us a break. Spare us from your self important drivel. Say something we haven’t heard a thousand times before, something that isn’t centered around YOU.

Almost Anonymous (profile) says:

Weird day

So I find myself in the strange position of both disagreeing with Tim, and agreeing with Donald Trump (ugh).

Tim: The news is that this was a tragedy. The sad news isn’t just that we’re not going to do anything about it, but rather that we’re not going to do anything about it even though we all have a cause in it.

I’m going to misquote Trump: “Sometimes bad things happen.” This was (yet another) really sad, even tragic, event. But I don’t agree that there is any real action to take.

Nicci Stevens (profile) says:

The media and the politicians do not want to ask any questions beyond “why guns?” (why not more this less that etc all about guns) The question, while important, does not address real issues. The hard questions that need to be asked require real solutions that cost money and mean that politicians do more than keep their lobbyists happy and long further beyond their elected term, their fundraising and their zeal to keep special interest happy. Why do people shoot up schools, theaters and malls? For the same reason they beat up their wives/partners, friends, abuse horrible drugs like meth a korocodil? There is an element of uncared for mental illness. Nobody wants to pay for it but its a public health hazard. Most people with even serious mental illness can be both well cared for and productive if given the right treatment but I guarantee you that that treatment doesnt come at the hand of a psychiatrist who prescribes a handful of meds each costing $25 / pill, where the patient spend 15 minutes with the doctor 4 times a year. This isn’t treatment it’s a chemical straight jacket. Modern psych meds can also make the patient fat and give them diabetes. Some of these patients choose to stop taking their meds and be “crazy” rather than be dead and fat. Still .. mentally ill people are far more likely to be the victims of abuse and violence than the perpetrators.

Two of the metrics used to tell us the economy is doing well are unemployment and DJIA. The dow is meaningless to the poor, and the unemployment numbers lie. If you have been unemployed for years, you’re not part of that figure. If you’re raising a kid with a spouses but the only paycheck is for 100 hours a month, you’re employed but you’re not even treading water. Or say you just got out of school only to find you cannot make more than $30k a year which is 1/4 of your student debt? Good luck with that. Consciously or no people with not enough to get by often choose illegal activities to either placate themselves or supplement their income. Using or dealing hard drugs may seem victim-less but at some point somewhere in there is violent crime. Other people simply crack under the pressure of too much to do with nothing to do it with. There are large numbers of socio-economic problems that can lead to violent outburst. It doesn’t, of course, make it right and leaves people dead in the wake. That, however, leaves politicians on both sides of the aisle pointing, mostly, to inanimate objects and otherwise bellowing at the wind to win their next election. Until we can have meaning healthcare (including mental health) and economic reforms that dont simply make the rich’s wallets fatter but doing nothing to manage a health and economic crisis this shit will keep happening and the left and right will keep blaming each other ad nauseum

Anonymous Coward says:

POTUS is right

“President Obama remarked that these stories have become routine, seeming to suggest that everyone has become numb to these events, accepting them as part of the American life.”

Number of shootings with 4+ people killed per day in 2015 until mid August.
Days: 238
Mass shootings: 247

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: I don't know about you, but I feel pretty helpless.

Between law enforcement assaulting whoever they please, officials deciding who is more equal than others, military campaigns in which civilians are nonchalantly massacred, extrajudicial torture, intrajudicial corruption and presumption of guilt, moguls profiteering on war and desperation so that the people are poorer by the day, and jurists and politicians arranging that fewer of our allegedly guaranteed rights mean scratch…yeah, I’m pretty frustrated that there is not a goddamn thing I can do that would make a lick of difference.

It’s coincidentally the same set of feelings that radicalist recruiters look for when looking for candidates for suicide bombings.

So it wouldn’t surprise me that people younger and more impulsive than I would sometimes reach a point where they couldn’t stand anymore, when they would finally be done with it all and be compelled to go do something radical and violent.

In the 20th century we had gang wars and family annihilators. I bet this new generation doesn’t have as much in the way of friends or families.

But I’m only guessing. I don’t have real data.

HowlingStatic says:

I think the media is terrible, but I also think its relevance to this problem is vastly overstated.

I don’t think the media is nearly as important as everyone says. I think the media rarely comes into play. I don’t think any significant number of people have changed their mind or become any more enlightened about how to solve this problem in a decade.

This is, I think, what happens:

The average news listener hears “active shooter” or some other keyword describing that a public massacre is taking place.

The average news listener, no matter what side he is on, knows exactly what everyone’s position, argument, and counter-argument is. He has already reacted before the spin and convenient explanations for why and what to do about it come into play.

The average news listener takes to the Internet and starts with the broken record debate *before being prompted* by ideologically-driven media, and largely because this is happening so often now that there is nothing new to add. It is like Stairway to Heaven. Hotel California. This is the ten billionth time you’re hearing this song and you know all the words already. He’s tweeting hyberbole. He’s being sarcastic. He’s letting everyone know which tribe he’s a part of and waiting for the LIKEs and the UPVOTEs, and he’s giving them in turn: this, before a single narrative is recited, rote, by our spineless, unoriginal, but effective-in-selling-ads news commentators. (Forget reporters. No one cares about reporters anymore.)

Here’s an experiment I urge everyone to try, if they’ve got the stones: the next time this happens (and it will happen again), find someone online you disagree with both about the cause of these things, and what ought to be done about them.

Rather than going into “ideological spam” mode where you play back your tired boilerplate in comment forums for the ten billionth time, challenge your “opponent” to trade places.

That is to say, if you’re really sick of guns and think there ought to be more gun laws and you blame easy access to guns for this, *take your opponent’s side* and challenge him to take yours. (And vice-versa if you’re anti-gun control and you think it’s something else causing this.)

And have the back and forth, but breaking the repetitive spiral by arguing the other’s side.

And maybe then, you’ll learn something. (Not one person – and I have asked about two dozen, generally on reddit but in other forums as well, has been willing to undertake this experiment with me.)

It’s not at all that our minds are product of an admittedly crap media environment.

It’s that our crap media environment gives us exactly what we ask for, and exactly what we deserve: a simplistic narrative.

Let me be clear: I’m pro-gun. It’s important to me. I’m not posing as some sort of wise person who sees all sides. I have a dog in this race and a strong opinion.

I’m just fully aware of the bullshit arguments my own side makes that I’d find ridiculous if I was on the other side.

And I wish sometimes that people who support further restrictions on guns would understand and know – like *grok* know, like *know on a visceral level*, exactly why I don’t agree, without *telling me* my real motivations for not agreeing (or just insulting me outright.)

We created the media; it did not create us. I don’t buy that argument for a second. Like any business, it’s pandering to our excess, bringing us fourth and fifth helpings of hate, strawmen, and stereotypes. The very media we criticize and lament for being trash is the very media we tweet and comment on *to show its ridiculousness.* I get more links to Mother Jones from fellow gun owners than I do from progressives. I get more links to Fox news from progressives than I do conservatives.

Each side serves a different side of the same coin.

The media? They’re just selling ads. The most shameless offender of all is — watch what happens to their fonts whenever a disaster occurs. They kick up the point size and go all caps. And they do this for the same reason vendors put up big signs saying LEMONADE (remember that game? Lemonade stand) on very hot days.

They’re only selling what people want to buy: outrage that fits within the fragile, simplistic, incomplete reality tunnels whose sturdiness we rely on to get us through the day.

It’s ad revenue – by giving us what we all so badly want and need: confirmation that the way we see the world is right.

And as predictably, most people will insist it’s the other side – you know, the *liberal media* or “*Faux” news* (depending on your politics), that does this. Not *my* side. It’s mainly the other side. Always. I’m above it, right

The headlines are in ALL CAPS. We speak to each other in ALL CAPS. We think in ALL CAPS. We dream in ALL CAPS.

We’ve chosen this – every last one of us.

PrattleOnBoyo (profile) says:

'Retreating' is for sheep

Personally, I’m not ‘retreating’ anywhere. I know exactly what the story is with gunman Mercer. Like all the other mass shooters in the US, I would wage he was on prescription psychotropic medication such as anti-anxiety and/or anti-depression drugs. A study by the Mayo clinic concluded that 70% of Americans are are on at least one prescription drug, and more than half take two. And one of five patients are on five or more prescription medications, including anti-anxiety/anti-depression. This stuff changes brain chemistry and not in a good way.

Anonymous Coward says:

Slippery slope is slippery slope.

Seems like someone was the product of a broken society. Not that I condone such actions. But when you live in a nation that supports legalised bribes corporate writen laws & various systems made to create debt, all you can do is hope someone, anyone would prevent the constitution from being subverted in its entirety.

Ignore donald trump, attention of any kind is his life blood, it empowers him.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re:

And of course this site which supposedly prides itself on ‘information freedom’ probably won’t comment on the troubling fact that at least one major news outlet literally whitewashed the criminal …

That’s possibly the dumbest thing I’ve read in a while. First, you expect omniscience. Second, you tar this site for not being omniscient.

Was there any point to your ridiculous rant, or do you get paid for whatever you write? Sweet gig, if so. Any openings I could fill? I could use the money.

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