Thursday, July 26, 2007

The continuing crisis...

I have long held the belief that people today are far too angry, and that if people could simply be a little more patient (and a little less quick to anger), most of today's problems would go away.

As if to underscore this belief, this story appears in today's news.

A total stranger in Texas calls another total stranger (a sailor in the US Navy, stationed in Virginia) a "nerd", on an internet forum (one where people routinely poke fun at each other.) In response, this sailor flips out, and threatens to kill the guy from Texas. He then drives halfway across the country, locates the Texan, and sets fire to the trailer he was living out of.

Clearly, the arsonist here is mentally deranged, is a threat to society, and should be locked away for a long time in the most oppressive prison cell allowed by law, but that's not my point. I've been seeing a lot of stories like this in the news recently - people who get murderously angry over trivial nonsense. What I wonder is: Are things like this happening more often than before? Or has it always happened, but without national publicity?

The arsonist blames the internet. Of course, that's a BS answer - the internet didn't make him do anything, but it allowed a stranger over a thousand miles away to trigger his rage. Without the internet, he'd probably have ended up following a stranger home from a local bar, movie theater or sporting event, committing his arson closer to home. Fortunately, he plead guilty, so we won't have to deal with the possibility of a jury unable to come to the same conclusion.

Anyway, getting back to my main point, is this a new phenomenon? When I was growing up, I occasionally heard news stories about crazy people committing crazy acts of violence, but I didn't hear stories like that happening all the time. Today, I hear of stories like this almost every month.

The more I observe the world, the more I want to move to northern Alaska and live out of an igloo or something.

1 comment:

Joe Shelby said...

It's not new. It's just that the internet (full of nerds, by the way) has made it easy for such stories to propagate around. It used to be that in order for a story to make it to the news it had to clear the interest level of an editor looking strictly at the newswire services.

Today, that's no longer the case. Now, un-edited content from the newswire is going directly into people's yahoo and google home pages, and some middle manager is able to read something that wouldn't have passed the low-level, more critical, editor's filter, and say "hey, that's cool, lets run with it".

So the filtering mechanisms are getting changed as the people who normally have the veto over stupid stuff suddenly are ignored by higher-ups who aren't accountable 'til after the fact.

Somewhere, ratings gets involved, of course.