Social media has a lot of benefits. On the plus side, it’s made society more interconnected and independent. Musicians, writers, and other types of professionals can thrive without big companies because they can advertise their own products and still make a living. On personal levels, it helps families remain connected across the country and even the world, as well as help long lost friends connect. Independent journalism has helped give rise to people who actually want to report facts and perform legitimate investigations, as opposed to the journalistic establishment that is more concerned about carrying water for their bosses’ political agendas.
But on the downside, social media has also been hurting political discourse and policy discussions.
Tragedy is an inevitable part of life and we can’t escape it. In our journeys on this Earth, human beings are generally focused on a mission to improve the quality of life with the understanding that we should leave the world better than we found it. Who doesn’t want our children to inherit greater quality than we did?
Unfortunately, this trend isn’t always serious. Social media has created a need to be accepted and showing online that we can say we care makes our conscience feel better about life.
But it doesn’t work.
Many Americans thank veterans on Veteran’s Day and remember those fallen on Memorial Day, but rarely the conversation occurs as to the things they endured. Veteran suicide is a tragic epidemic that is growing worse the longer the United States maintains a presence in overseas conflicts with no end in sight. Why are these people being scarred? Why are their fellow soldiers coming home in body bags?
These are questions that don’t need to be answered, because on Memorial Day people show up to parades to waive their American Flags before they go to their cookouts. Before the burgers and hotdogs, veterans and veteran organizations pass us by. Some of them may have been lucky enough to have come home without problem while others may be harboring some personal pain that is impacting their lives. In a lot of those cases, they have friends who left their families too soon because of war.
It doesn’t faze my many though, because people feel good that they’ve done enough, and so the question goes on answered.
The similar goes for Veteran’s Day, when people thank a veteran because it’s the day to do so. Because we see someone with a Vietnam Veteran hat and offer some empty “thank you” without even thinking, many don’t think about the things they and their fellow soldiers endured. Furthermore, the thought about veteran’s care, the suicide epidemic, and other related issues go largely ignored.
Why? Because we’ve appeased our conscience enough not to explore the problem further. The same mindset applies to tackling gun violence.
Whenever a tragic shooting occurs, it’s over politicized. Instead of exploring the depth of the issue, it’s a simple ban guns strategy. Discussions related to mental health and underlying issues are not explored. So while many believe that simply taking guns away will prevent tragedy, they’re not addressing the heart of the problem. Many perpetrators of violence don’t simply find a gun and feel inspired to end lives. There’s generally an underlying issue, such as a mental health issue or some traumatic experience. While it doesn’t justify the act of violence, knowing the root helps us take preventive measures.
But many don’t care to actually explore the issue in an honest fact finding mission. We’re wearing orange, we’ve done enough.
This is the downside of the Internet and with social media. People wear orange and think it’s enough. Congratulations, but it’s not. Simply declaring support for background checks doesn’t cut it either, because again, even if someone doesn’t have legal access to a gun, it doesn’t mean the violence will be prevented. If someone wants to inflict pain and murder enough, they will find an alternative weapon or illegally acquire a firearm.
We avoid discussing the reasons for the suffering of soldiers and whether the things we do globally is necessary, because we show up two days a year to remember those who fight and die. Similarly, we avoid discussing the difficult depth of the gun violence issue as a society because we’re wearing an orange shirt or a tie on some random Thursday.
It doesn’t work. Society needs to wake up and grow up, or more people are going to lose their lives to bad people.