Amateur fight videos involving teenagers or young men have become increasingly popular on the internet, and when Brenda Burns saw her son in one of them, she was appalled.
One YouTube video shows Burns’s 16-year-old son, Jonathon Carroll, falling to the ground and being kicked in the head by another teenager. (link)
Since the release of the movie Fight Club (way back in 1999), real fight clubs have reportedly emerged. Documenting and sharing these violent events through Youtube (and other social media sites) should not be surprising. Depictions of violence, real and fictional, have been documented for centuries through various forms of media.
Is our society becoming more violent? Steven Pinker argues that our society is the least violent in recorded history. While I accept this general argument, I still believe it is important to understand human tendencies toward violence, whether it be war or happy slapping, and any influences that promote or encourage acts of violence. After all, in my mind, ANY act of violence is intolerable.
Yvonne Roberts offered a troubling theory last November regarding new influences for violence. While types of social upbringing have traditionally been correlated with acts of violence, Roberts touches upon a theory more inline with notions of digital narcissism.
If a growing minority, are ceasing to care about how the other person feels; if we believe in the cartoon violence that allows no place for conscience; if we think that a minute on YouTube or Facebook is worth several deaths or the ritual public humiliation of another human being and some of this is not rooted in poverty or emotional deprivation or intolerance then looking for the “causes” of crime may require a new approach.
Self-gratification and self-glorification appear, in some – a few? – cases, to be the overriding impulses. A justification to take what is wanted, to extinguish who they choose. Killing, rape and injury for its own sake – as part of a buzz, a high, 15 minutes of fame, sometimes filmed for all to see, appears to be a crime unique to the 21st century. A kind of greed for attention and/or self-pleasure and a desire to be a somebody, gone mad.
So what is your current thinking on the influences toward violence in our children? Democratic or mainstream media? Governmental or school policies/practice? Video games? Family? All of the above? And, if we can identify the influences, what do we then do about it as educators, administrators, and parents.
Yes, this is a huge question, but let’s hear from you.