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Media Violence is a Significant Cause of Social Violence
A gun whizzes past Nancy’s ear as she starts her lecture. She turns in alarm, but before she can say anything, another pierces her body and she topples over, before being decisively shot in the head. Her students, many of them young kids scream as a fusillade of bullets silences them for eternity. And then the last resounding clang is heard as Ryan, the murderer rushes to the ground he will soon be buried in. Tears from the depth of some divine despair saturate the ground as the country mourns over the death of its future.
A few years back, children were considered innocent. And they certainly played the part. The pranks they played represented not the Machiavellian cunning of a criminal mind, but the simple innocence of a kid’s mind. Nowadays, innocence is a word that has lost its meaning. Every child today grows up in a world where his intrinsic innocence is snatched from him like the right to live was snatched from the daughters of the Saracens in the pre-Islamic period of ignorance. What is surprising is the fact that this transition from innocence to delinquency has taken place in synchrony with the evolution of the media culture. Violence and media have reached their peaks in a parallel fashion.
Media stands for any medium of instruction aimed at representing the thoughts and ideas of the people. However, today media reflects not the thoughts of the intelligentsia, but the thoughts of those who control it through monetary aids. Media today has infiltrated our lives to the extent that every action and emotion of ours resembles, in one way or the other, with that of any media figure.
Psychology reveals the impact of media on human emotions. Media information tends to be bold and striking, so that it affects the sub-conscious. As a result, while our mind does not ponder over many of the things we’re shown, our sentiments are in part framed by them. A kid unaware of the Kalashnikov culture picks up one and starts shooting his peers and mentors. This shows that there is some other factor quite beyond his comprehension that is egging him on. And this, then, tends to affect the whole society. Societal norms and customs are usually defined by the ideals of that society. Today, we’re not building a society based on ideals, but on people, who, ten to one, are only shamming. This is merely a wild goose chase and it will lead to no good. A society based on such a system cannot survive for long, and if it does, it has no dignity and prestige. The media phantom is not a supra-sensory fiend, it is a menacing evil which we all know about and ironically, about which we can do nothing.
When media was introduced as a medium of instruction, no one really knew about the repercussions. The system grew, slowly at first and then at a pace rivaled by few. Then the culture of showing crime stories was introduced. The earlier crime stories were generally informative and factual. They were based on the notion that people should know enough about crime and its aftermath to abhor it. However, thrillers and action movies aroused in the people the notion that everything should be striking and bold so as to affect the mind. Crime movies like Scarface; The French Connection and Ocean’s 11 etc are considered as the greatest mind boggling hits of their times. And that’s not enough, these crime movies and other crime serials being showcased at various global TV Channels like Bones reveal in minute details, the machinations of the criminals, leading to an abominable conversion of fiction into reality. Simpletons have been affected so much by this that they have started adopting the unique plots to gain their purposes. The recent increase in the crime rate shows that people are leaning towards violence and are frustrated rather tolerant. As a rule, they take out their frustration by protesting, abusing, bullying and in extreme cases, even killing each other.
Another striking problem is teenage violence. Teens are full of energy and vim, and are ready to do anything on “do or die” basis. Media programs often enact challenging situations and teenagers are drawn to these. They then try to do something for the “fun” of it. This often involves running away with women’s purses and acting flirtatiously. Recently in Karachi the murder of a teen Shahzeb Khan by an age fellow Shahrukh raised much hue and cry. Had the proper steps been taken earlier, the matter could’ve been prevented.
Some cases may be genuine, but this is becoming a trend these days that if at one end media is promoting people who cling to electric poles to get their demands fulfilled then at the other end it is bringing in the limelight those who try to auction their children in the name of poverty. Many people, just for the sake of gaining attention, resort to this step on petty and trivial matters. This is a matter of growing concern for the society.
The most alarming issue in this respect is parental guidance stuff. Rated as not suitable for immature people, this content is being displayed without proper censorship so that everyone from toddlers to adolescents can see it. This has a bad impact on the society, as this spreads juvenile delinquency and unlawful amorous relations. Local theatres and cinemas develop such movies as display unrestrained violence. These give the impression that heroes are above the law and can do anything to attain their desires. Since the illiterate populace is more interested in these kinds of movies, therefore they become a good source of spreading the message that we must transgress our bounds if we want anything done.
Studies show that 8 years old spend more time watching cartoons than with their family. This is another serious issue. The lap of the mother is the first educational institution. Children whose lives are dominated by media shows reflect a propensity towards uncouthness and philistine behavior. Obviously, they are not learning sophistication under proper parental care. Furthermore, we are being taught to rely more on occult sources than on reason.
Social violence is unavoidable today. It’s everywhere, in your home, in your school and even in your bones. What we need is the proper orientation of media so that it becomes what its creators envisaged. We need to separate media from hooliganism, so that we can achieve peace – not the kind that comes from pleasure but the kind derived from mental relaxation – the inner peace.