Malcolm Gladwell Blames The Increase In School Shooting On Pop Culture

Photo Credit: PEN American Center.
Photo Credit: PEN American Center.

Malcolm Gladwell, the renowned journalist and author, has blamed the increase in school shooting on pop culture.

Gladwell was addressing questions posed by posters on the Reddit AMA forum.

He noted that today’s pop culture is far different from thirty years ago.

“The internet has created a rabbit warren for the all sorts of twisted fantasies: the paradox of the internet is that the group who seem to use it the most (teenagers) are those least well-equipped to deal with its pathologies,” he said.

He noted further that teenagers and boys in particular are no longer afforded the opportunity to live out their fantasies in an environment that is healthy and beneficial as in the past.

Gladwell argued that there is a general shift in how teenagers pick up on their behavioral cues and the main stream media is no longer the driving force.

“They have their own culture online. The media’s not the issue anymore. The crucial shift that happened after Columbine is that the movement turned inward: the shooters went from being influenced by the broader culture to creating their own, internal shared world,” he said.

He posited that gun control is crucial for the lowering of the overall homicide rate and lamented the fact that the easy access to guns in the U.S. is a major contributor to the high homicide rate compared to other industrialized countries.

At the same time, he noted school shooting is an issue that is complicated and complex.

“They are a subgenre of homicide that is about a specific fantasy that has taken hold of some teenaged boys. We could crack down on guns and still have a Columbine,” he stated.

Gladwell pointed to the fact that school shootings are very rare in Canada and when they do for the most they are ‘copycats’  taking their cue from the United States.

He said that guns are not in of themselves the problem or the issue in the U.S., but the accompanying powerful fantasy about how they ought to be used.

“The one solution people always talk about is having the press show more restraint in writing about shooters. But even that is of limited use: the would-be shooters are now all following and learning from and emulating each other privately–though YouTube and niche websites. The internet has made this a very difficult problem to solve,” Gladwell declared.

He stated that there is need for a proper conversation, as a country, about what teenaged culture ought to “look” like.

Yvad Billings, Readers Bureau, Fellow

Editing by Jesus Chan

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