Sunday, December 23, 2012

The linchpin

I'm very saddened by the events in Connecticut.


The Israelis have an interesting situation -- war is at their doorstep, they can't afford as much time/energy put into mourning and compassion. Similarly, as a father of little ones (including a 6-year old), my mind quickly turns to what could and should be done about it.

As a very wise friend* once taught me, bad situations are almost never a consequence of a single decision. They're usually a result of a sequence of poor decisions.

Knowing very little as we do at this point, I'm guessing in this case that list might look something like this:
  1. Broken home
  2. Strained relationships
  3. Mental condition
  4. Accessible weapons
  5. Violent media (movies, video games)
  6. Vulnerability of schools

Probably a significant improvement in any of the above would've changed the outcome here. But now, much of the talk is about the individual items in this list (esp. #1 thru #5), that each thing is very common in society and isn't correlated with violence. But has anyone looked at correlations against multiple conditions?

My guess is that in this case the problem is #3 and #5 together. I have seen each of my kids mimic things they see on tv. Boys especially are very good at inserting their minds into the storyline. A few times I've played FPS games, and each time I've left feeling like it was an mentally/emotionally dangerous thing to do, that I had to switch off an important part of my brain just to play it.

Media is automated storytelling. The reason we tell stories as humans is to teach us accurate consequences of actions so we can learn from others' experience (see this terrific article on the "Rules of Story", what makes a good story and why). Better stories are more accurate and applicable to life. Bad stories encourage immoral or unethical behavior by showing few (or positive) consequences of that behavior. I bet Adam got very little "accuracy" (by volume) from his media, and his mind was less able to discern the fallacy of it.

The more I think about it, the more I think the linchpin here was the parents allowing a crippled mind to poison itself.

* Shoutout to JCSH =)

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