Social Influence & Persuasion

Why We Should Give Less Fucks About Mass Shootings and Terrorism

I recently stumbled upon an article by one of my favorite bloggers, Mark Manson. And yes, I have to admit he made some valid points in his post on the same topic.

Ithink we should care less about mass shootings and terrorism.

I’m not saying we should stop defending ourselves, stop debates about tighter gun laws, screen for potential offenders, or stop investing in more security. But all in all, I’m noticing people giving way to big of a fuck about mass shootings at schools or terrorist attacks wherever they happen…

Let’s just put some things into perspective for a minute. Data from the RAND corporation has shown that across Europe your chances of getting killed by a terrorist are 1 in 23,234,378 million. That said, you’re about as likely to die through a shooting than get crushed by your TV. 

So why do most people make such a big deal about mass shooting/terrorism and have irrational fears everytime they happen? (And let’s be honest, they are more or less the same thing).

Because they go viral.

Look, our culture is dominated by what gets the most eyeballs and attention. Anything that gets a shit lot of attention spreads fast and far. And if something gets a lot of attention we automatically assume it to be something of major importance and significance. Also called social proof or the Kardashian Rule.

The Kardashian Rule: The more viral a person or event is, the more the culture will overestimate its importance.

The Kardashian Rule implies that there is a difference between what we believe to be important and what is actually important. Think about it yourself for a minute. How big of a hype do most girls make around Kim Kardashian or Kylie Jenner? A big one! Now think about it rationally – How much of whatever it is they have contributed to society, is actually important?

Yes, fucking nothing.

Now think about the latest mass shooting. Consider the shooting in Thousand Oaks that happened in November, 2018. If you’ve been reading the news that month, chances were you knew who the offender was, a little bit about his history, how it all happened etc.

But how much do you remember of the stuff that was actually important? Like the after effects in the US Supreme Court? Like, the legislative changes that were decided upon that may actually be significant to the USA (or other countries) in the future?

Exactly, nothing.

The Kardashian Rule also implies that the success of an event or person, is solely dependent on our reactions towards it. That said, the Kardashians capitalize on their media appearence because a shit lot of people react to their stuff.

The same is true for mass shooters and terrorists. Mass shooters and terrorists are mentally vulnerable people or political ideologists who capitalize on people, like us, who give them their attention. Namely, us. That’s the only motive behind a mass shooting – attention. And by giving them our attention by clicking on articles headlined in the Facebook news feed, all we do is support these insane individuals in reaching their goal.

Instagram influencers are another example. Don’t you think if we could all think rationally and realise they have absolutley zero importance in our lives, that we would still follow them? (well, maybe we already do realise) Do you think they would still be successful? Well, maybe they would, but if we woud all pay less attention, they would run out of a lot of oxygen.

I stopped clicking on articles on mass shootings and terrorism. These scumbags don’t deserve my attention and also don’t deserve to have their names printed anywhere. Fuck them!

Here is the interesting bit – Chances are that mass shootings and terrorism would drastically decrease if the media would no longer report them. Sounds like a rad claim to make, but there is evidence for it.

The Evidence

Many decades ago, precisley in 1974, the American Psychological Association published an academic paper titled ‘The Influence of Suggestion on Suicide: Substantive and Theoretical Implications of the Werther Effect.’

The paper makes a case for how reportings of suicide cases by the media had further increased suicide rates in that specific area by a significant number. Scientists studied why this was happening and concluded that broadcasting successful suicides gave other potential suicidal victims more validation. They concluded that when the media reported suicide cases, this could be an effective way for sucidal victims to get the attention, affection, and pity they had so desperately wanted in their life. That it could be seen as something inspirational: “Here is someone who felt exactly like me, and they actually did it!”

Scientists named this the ‘Werther Effect’. Luckily, the media got together and decided to no longer report suicide cases. At least some good news!

The ‘Werther Effect’ perfectly translates into the mass shootings and terrorism situation. More or less all shooters, are mentally vulnerable individuals, often with abusive childhoods, who were never given the attention or significance we require during our development phase throughout early upbringing. As a result they often have a much stronger need during adolsence or adulthood to receiving attention and significance from their surroundings. They often feel like they have no choice, because they’ll be ignored and not be taken care of anyway.

Then they see a random dude go nuts and gun down an entire school and see how they become a celebrity overnight who are obsessivley starred at by millions of people. They see how committing such crimes makes them receive the attention they’ve always craved for their entire lives.

I think the media should stop reporting incidents of mass shootings and terrorism. It’s irresponsible and makes the situation worse.

What do you think?

 

7 comments

  1. 1. Information is good. People should be informed.
    2. People then don’t shut up about it and make it a bigger deal than it needs to be.
    3. People think their opinion matters and so blah on and on about it.
    4. In all the noise making, people don’t see the real important shit go down.
    (When everyone has their eyes to the sky, people miss the sleight of hand)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Very smart.

    I think they should report shootings but they shouldn’t print the criminal’s names.

    Now if only we could get the media VIEWERS to stop responding to sensationalism…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your psychological analysis of terrorists is far too simplistic. Mentally vulnerable? Who isn’t in these times! Abusive childhood? More than 50% of children have been abused. And that’s just the stat for sexual abuse. Things are not so black and white. Many terrorists simply believe in their ideology. Some are forced, some are blackmailed and some are simply paid to do it.

    Like

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