Humans are obsessed with violence. It seems to be ingrained in our subconscious nature – in our very DNA. How often have you heard a car’s hooter screech and you whip your head around expecting (or hoping) to see a crash? More than I care to admit, I can tell you that.
This post isn’t inspired by any recent event but rather just the phenomenon of the Internet and new media, and how they affect the disposition for violence that humans have; even if it is just ease of access.
Laurence Miller, Ph.D., explains the biological, sociological, and psychological reasons for violent behaviour.
During the 1800s, death was a public spectacle. If you committed a crime – from murder to petty theft – you were publically hanged. The death of others was a spectacle, something that was attended by all, regardless of class or social standing.
The same can be said with violent events happening in contemporary society. It only takes a quick glance toward any newspaper, tabloid, or news broadcast to see that violence sells news; and with potentially detrimental effects.
As mentioned, the advent of the Internet age has only made the access to violence easier. It takes a quick Google/YouTube search to find the hanging of Saddam Hussein or images of the victims of an aeroplane accident – i.e. Malaysia Airlines flight 17.
So widespread it has become in popular culture that the term ‘gore porn’ has been coined. That trend is pervasive on the Internet, literature, video games, and in film.
The fascination with death was, and still is, primal. At it’s most self-regarding, the fascination speaks for pleasure that it is another who has died, and it expresses an elemental curiosity about how they died.
Questions need to be raised about, not so much this latent desire, but the effect the access to this kind of material has on an increasingly younger, Internet-savvy audience.
Studies have been condicted about how the brain processes aggressive behaviour. In fact, a particular study concluded that humans crave violece as they do for sex, food, and drugs.
That is because the artistic representation of death/violence as entertainment (through, the mentioned, literature, video games, and film) expresses a displaced anxiety about death, as well as, and more frighteningly, a desire for death. And that expresses something that is so dangerous to the health of the psyche that it must be repressed – and yet so strong in its desire for articulation that it cannot be repressed.
This may account for the increase in teen depression and, sadly, suicide. With the recent death of Robin Williams, these issues have come to the fore of the public’s eye because it is shocking, to many, that a man who had such a successful career, a man with money and fame, and a man who had a loving family could conceivably be suffering from depression; never mind the alleged suicide.
Perhaps this kind of thinking and critique of contemporary media and culture, and its disposition to violence needs to be raised at a larger scale. Perhaps it calls for you need to think twice before you watch that next click-bait video of a horrific car accident.