Two articles – the first is from Rick Wilson:
This was like a thousand other murders, carried out by a thousand other madmen. This was like a thousand other killings, be it with a knife or a hammer or a gun or fists. He was like a thousand other men, broken and dark and empty, punishing a woman who he imagines scorned him. He was like a thousand other killers, ridden by demons no mental health professional could correct or treat.
But this killing has the shock of the new built in. He set out not just to kill her, but to memorialize a digital record of his bloody vengeance. Instead of seeing the killing on grainy closed-circuit camera footage, or the tearful recountings of survivors and eyewitnesses, he’s turned his terrible work into a first-person shooter.
He recorded it on his phone. He posted his nearly-incoherent tweets, not as a justification but as a few final grunts out of his dead soul. He shared his video on Facebook. He faxed his manifesto. All the tools of our socially networked lives and world were used as a public channel for his rage. Even as a bit player on a local television station, he knew enough to exploit the boundless vacuum, thirsty for attention and clicks.
We’ve built a online society that posts our selfies, our food, our pets, our children, our high points and joys, all those manifestations of our best selves. There’s no turning the clock back, or unringing the bell of social media and technology, and we shouldn’t. The moral ambiguity of our tools is under-appreciated. We’ve become a people who believe in the agency of the weapon, not of the hand that wields it. The same social media account that lets you share something funny or touching or wonderful is the same social media the killer used today, and his ilk will use tomorrow.
There’s no solution to this problem. There’s no technical or regulatory fix. There’s no social structure to mediate this. We’ll see more first-person shooters, recording on their phones or their Google Glass or their brain implants, and we’ll stop feeling that this is new and shocking and just watch it settle into a terrible new normal.
I won’t use his name, because at least that’s a tiny, futile gesture to deny him his attention. All we can do is try to look away. Try not to click. Try not to share the product of the killers’ demented hearts.
But there is a solution, and he just said it. We can look away.
Why does someone shoot up a movie theater or school filled with total strangers? Because they want attention. They want infamy.
They want everyone to know their name. They want their picture in every paper and on every television.
We should respond the same way you respond to a child who is throwing a fit to get attention. We should look away. We should turn away the cameras. We should not say their names.
This isn’t censorship. It’s not something that the government could or should do. It’s something WE THE PEOPLE need to do. The best part is it won’t cost us anything.
What if each of us decided we would look away? What if we didn’t buy magazines, click on links, watch videos, tune into news reports or even talk about it?
What if we used social pressure to encourage the news media to stop sensationalizing these atrocities? Not a law, but a consumer-led campaign to deny fame to killers.
Imagine if the media treated these insane killers the same way they treated Kenneth Gosnell and the Planned Parenthood videos. Imagine if every tragedy wasn’t exploited by one side or the other. Imagine if the victims were more famous than the psychos who killed them.
Wilson is right – if only one person does it then it’s just a tiny, futile gesture. But it’s a start.
If you look away, and I look away, maybe those people over there will look away too.