When Violence Is TV
It would seem that the manifest circle whereby violence on TV produces violence in life is complete:
An afterschool fight that drew 50 to 60 student onlookers in front of Roger Williams Middle School was posted on the Web site YouTube, making Providence part of a growing phenomena in which teenagers use technology to publicize acts of violence.
When the police arrived Wednesday around 3 p.m., they saw three to five girls punching and kicking someone in front of a large crowd of students from Roger Williams as well as a nearby high school, Cooley Health & Science Technology Academy on Thurbers Avenue. …
“Kids live in cyberspace where popularity is based on page views,” she said yesterday. “We’re creating a generation of kids who live in virtuality, not reality. They see themselves as the producers of their own hit shows.”
The act of videotaping allows teenagers to distance themselves from violence, turning them into passive observers rather than participants who feel the victim’s pain, she said.
It’s long been my sense that adults underestimated the risk of steeping children in advanced technology. As I’ve said before, for my generation, by the time we’d gotten to Mortal Kombat, we’d logged hours on games that were clearly games, whether Super Mario Brothers or Pong. Now, not only can kids control a virtual beating, they can become the producers of reality TV violence. It’s wonderful to be able to actively produce things — videos, music, and so on — that once required corporate resources, but there were mollifying restrictions that came with accessing those resources.