The reasons for my upset are many. Firstly, the video is incredibly violent. It’s an awful, graphic fight. There’s no intervention; no one stops it and there’s no hero saving someone from bullying. Secondly, the chants from spectators are harrowing. They egg the scene on, even laughing when a man is knocked to the ground and his face pummeled. They are delighting in the brutality. Thirdly, as a media representative, I just can’t for the life of me understand why it’s been shared and shown.
When I was a child, my biggest worries when watching television were whether Gargamel would actually get the Smurfs one day, or that Shawn Cassidy would ever find out how much I truly loved him. Times are changing, people, hell, they’ve already changed. When children watch television today, they are more aware of the world around them and the evil that comes in to play. They see pedophiles, terrorists, school shootings, cinema shootings, images of horrific traffic accidents. They’re seeing too much carnage, and my profession is at fault.
My worry is that these young people hone in on these violent images and, unfortunately, they find them funny. Case in point, how many of them are videoing random slaps and hits and calling it amusement? They’re becoming desensitized as such an early age, that it’s no wonder we read of teens and young adults with little to no value for human life. There are statistics that support this. According to a recent study, the average child watches ‘8,000 televised murders and 100,000 acts of violence before finishing elementary school. That number more than doubles by the time he or she reaches age 18.’ That’s horrible. That is a staggering number that has got to change. Maybe I’m at a crossroads, but I feel like we’re (journalists) not doing enough to stop ramming these images down the throats of children. I’m not saying we need to censor them and not show them, but I do think that if we do show them, there needs to be a clear message as to why. I think something should be learned by showing them.
I will be the first to admit that I’m not the perfect journalist. I make mistakes. I offend people. I make them unhappy at times with what I have to say. I anger people even when I’m sticking to the facts. I get that, but there’s one thing I’ll never do; one thing I’ll never be. I will never give column inches to highlight what can be perceived as humor in bullying. I will never be “that journalist” who wants to fill her paper with images simply to sensationalize.
A colleague and I had a conversation recently. Someone had said that people were inherently good, and he and I didn’t agree. I think people are inherently mischievous. I think they find it funny to cause trouble, to be naughty and to stir. For example, children are always doing something they shouldn’t. Our job is to teach them what is right, not what is wrong. They already know that. It may sound harsh, but it’s true. Being bad is fun sometimes. It, in the eyes of children, gets more attention. I think there’s something wrong with that. Shouldn’t we be making an enormous fuss when our children do the right thing? Shouldn’t we be reminding them that it’s the way to behave?
Children are exposed to more and more violence with each passing day, and I think that as a journalist, I, or should I say we, have a responsibility to not add to that. I don’t want to be known as the woman who killed childhood. It’s already died a death from the one I remember.
A child gets their greatest exposure to violence from the television and the internet. In this day of fast paced news, cell phones with cameras and people posting something every second, it’s hard for them to not notice what they’re viewing. The images are everywhere, because media agencies are promoting them. And yes, you can say all you want that your child isn’t allowed to watch certain programs or look at certain sites, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t doing just that.
The witnessing of violence isn’t like it was when I was a kid. I knew it was there, but it wasn’t thrust in my face every moment of every day. The cops dealt with the bad guys so my friends and I didn’t have to. They saw the images, not just first, but exclusively. That was their job in my young eyes. Now they battle not just the bad guys, but hunting down perpetrators who spread images on a global scale. What a complete waste of their time. Imagine how it feels as a journalist when my colleagues across the globe are part of the problem. No wonder no one trusts us or wants to talk to us. I don’t think I would either.
I hope I’m different. I try to be, and hope that I succeed, even if it’s only in small doses. I don’t want to be “that journalist.” I want to stick to the truth, even if people don’t like it or try to claim my facts are biased, hell, I may even poke fun every now and then based on actual happenings, but I don’t want to be someone who baits the reading public with hatred. I don’t want that for myself. I don’t want my husband to be married to that woman. I don’t want my family and friends to know that person. Like I said, sometimes I’ll get it wrong, but I hope that at least my judgment isn’t called into question. Because when that happens, when I become “that journalist” who promotes hatred and violence in all its forms when it isn’t news, then that’s it, I’m done.