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Posts Tagged ‘Columbine’

A long time coming… read the full essay here.

Their theft had shown that under each other’s influence they could be impulsive and unscrupulous. Could they also—no matter how unbelievable it seemed—be violent?

contingencies…

And yes, he’d written a school paper about a man in a black trenchcoat who brutally murders nine students. But we’d never seen that paper. (Although it had alarmed his English teacher enough to bring it to our attention, when we asked to see the paper at a parent-teacher conference, she didn’t have it with her. Nor did she describe the contents beyond calling them “disturbing.” At the conference—where we discussed many things, including books in the curriculum, Gen X versus Gen Y learners, and the ’60s folk song “Four Strong Winds”—we agreed that she would show the paper to Dylan’s guidance counselor; if he thought it was a problem, one of them would contact me. I never heard from them.)

Easy to wonder why no one thought to bring up details of the paper but remember until Columbine, there wasn’t some obvious trenchcoated kids killing peers stereotype….  the essay might have been “run of the mill” disturbing…

I think I believed that if I loved someone as deeply as I loved him, I would know if he were in trouble. My maternal instincts would keep him safe. But I didn’t know. And my instincts weren’t enough. And the fact that I never saw tragedy coming is still almost inconceivable to me.

And that’s just it… it’s extremely complicated and no one is to blame.

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In the last couple of months we’ve had several high profile events (reporter escape, #iranelection, swine flu)  on the planet that demonstrate the direct influence the media has on events.  As much as journalists and media personnel attempt to be impartial reporters they never are and never can be.  It’s simply impossible to report on an event without impacting it especially in this ever more everything digitally connected to everything else.  This is not necessarily bad or misguided.  What is problematic though is operating media properties without careful navigation of the fine line between influence and observation and consuming media without judging it’s impact.

I’ve recently read the Dave Cullen book, COLUMBINE.  On top of  its literary positives this book does an excellent job of picking apart the media coverage’s direct influence on the events as they unfolded and our analysis (and current thinking!) on the events, the people, the causes.  People died as a result of the fundamental misunderstanding about media’s impact on events.  People’s lives continue to be out of sync with what really happened and why it all happened because of the media’s impact on the events and investigations.

I suspect we’ll look back on the Iran election in a similar light.  Perhaps, in this case, media will be a more positive influence.

The recent NYTimes+Wikipedia strategy is another example of potential grave misunderstanding.  In this case the potential influence of media was recognized before hand but…… now that it is public how we can manipulate media and the Internet population there’s another problem looming.   Are we opening a can of worms by allowing the media to be used strategically in political and military efforts?

I recently had a mini-debate on facebook about whether it was a such a good idea to encourage folks to confuse and hide identies behind false settings and proxy servers on Twitter during the Iran Election.  Though the intentions behind these activities seem worthwhile – helping citizens fight for political freedom – this is a slippery precendent to be setting.  Where do we draw the line on using the shifty nature of online media as a strategy?  How can we legally hold criminals accountable for these same actions?  How can we identify suspicious behaviors when we’ve encourage this use of media by everyone?  Is it OK for journalists to use this tactic when pursuing a story?

Trying to understand the world is difficult enough.  The Internet and new approach media is great for its openness, DIY approach and general “we’ll figure it out as we go” utility.  However, unchecked by the very people creating and consuming it as the situation is now we’re only creating more confusion and muting the considerable utility of this platform.  What I am directly saying is that all of us in media (reporting and tool building) need to spend a little more time reflecting and strategizing and a little less time trying to be the first on the scene, the one with the most pageviews, the one with the exclusive.  This approach won’t come about without some direct actions on our part and lives depend on figuring this out.

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I am so disappointed.

Mysticism returns to prime time TV with this inane crime stopper series “LIE to ME*” heralding the star (Tim Roth) and his team’s ability to read people’s faces to tell when they are lying about what. Crimes are just the medium for the law enforcement to clean up with all that legal mumbo jumbo.

Forget the advance science of real life CSI groups who offer empirical data as evidence supporting suspicion of involvement or not that is shown or implied in other TV dramas. Too many big words and too much emphasis on logic over folklore. That was wayyyyyy to tough to understand.

So, I guess the Vietnam war injury from a concussion grenade will not get mentioned in the villain’s arraignment. We’ll be able to tell if President Obama really is going to address the issues of the day and, most importantly, whether or not he is embarrassed to have a middle name of “Hussain” after all.

Working with this fantasy, think of where it could all lead: you are successful based on not being able to terse your lips or raise an eyebrow due to Botox.  No more need for matters as suspect as a ‘Twinkie defense.’  It was a facial tick that sealed the doom that the Olympian was using banned substances… Or, your movie is given the green light because you looked the producers in the eye and your nose didn’t flare at the same time…

If only we knew what to look for before Columbine and West Virginia events… And all along those media mongrels were leading down the path of science, contingency management and stem cell hope. But no more…

Enter the latest version of phrenology** and voodoo*** for prime consumption.

I am so disappointed.

* Not the absolute blues-grunt-rock of Jonny Lang’s live version of “Lie to Me”

** Phrenology: a defunct and debunked field of study, once considered a science, in which a person’s personality was first implied and then determined by experts “reading” bumps and fissures in the subjects skull.

*** Voodoo: religion based on mix of Roman Catholic teachings and West African beliefs that there are numerous deities subordinate to a greater god spirit (who does not traffic in matters or events of mere humans). Prayers and incantations to lower gods who show their work by symbolism in everything from tea leafs to smoke – only coincidently related to the smoke from a sacred chimney announcing a new Pope.

Various Blog Coverage:

TV Addict

Chicago Trib

Televisionary


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