Nothing should diminish the importance of individual ownership of misconduct. Blaming society or institutional shortcomings for individual wrongdoing harms accountability, but amidst today’s American cultural crisis of gun violence, it seems individual accountability has never been so undervalued. Legal inefficiencies, lazy parenting and social pressures may all accurately identify contributors to gun violence, but a key driver meets at their intersection in today’s era of unprecedented American material abundance: a mockingly paradoxical feeling of emptiness.
The digital age has undeniable positive impacts on society, enhancing efficiency, convenience and entertainment. However, it has also altered human interaction, as people are more physically isolated and disengaged from society than ever before. The virtual escapes from reality that preoccupy American culture, especially within violent video games played by children still discerning ethical behavior and the meaning of power, cannot possibly deter an individual, moreover a child, from craving the control experienced in video games in the real world.
Why do American gun laws seem to fail? Gun-free zones on school property and strict gun laws, as seen in Chicago, clearly do little to curb the violence. Society must honestly address the cultural crisis so uniquely threatening to today’s America that drives this incivility.
Why does society so ardently defend the choice to play violent video games with potentially deadly consequences while we denounce a school’s choice to practice peaceful prayer? Our society faces an outlet crisis: where does the individual turn when they feel lost among the excesses of American material abundance? It seems our youth are encouraged to look to the virtual realities in televisions and computers to achieve a sort of spiritual exoneration.
Normalizing violence for young children, especially males who have evolutionarily benefitted from asserting physical dominance, socially regresses the civil society we worked so hard to create. Simulations of violence in video games are the last thing individuals should turn to when seeking an outlet from life’s frustrations.