Virginia Technology on campus shooting – A disaster waiting to happen !

On Saturday a couple of us gathered together online to discuss about the slew of isolated events (Shooting) happening worldwide and related to the same we decide that lets touch base with its relvance to incidents in the past like Columbine high and so on. Following the incident at Virginia Tech. there has been an incident in the Johnson Space center at Florida and over the weekend there was an isolated incident at Hyderabad where a student gunned down one of his classmates.

Is this proving to be a trend? Are we undergoing a lot of stress at our place of study or work.? What has been the role place of the media in our current happenings. We thought that we will take up this topic and do a discussion on the related factors. Joining me on this discussion is  Payal Shah, an organizational Psychologist. As soon as i heard of the VT incident i was very much reminded of Columbine high and infact pinged the same to Payal. And to hear that for the killer Cho those guys were a sort of inspiration came as no surprise.Behavioral analysis depicts that the major stimuli to a persons behavior is from the information and events that happen around a person and how it affects the person or how insulated the person is from such stimulus.

I am reminded of Zig Ziglar quoting" What we put in is what we will get out ! " If we put in violent images and violence into the minds of people what else can we expect to take out other than violence " Today’s greatest influence for human mind is the media ( both visual and print media ). And the kind of content that is majorly predominant in media is war, bombings, terror and violence. The greatest war machine that is ravaging the Middle east is the War against terror that is being solemnised by the Big brother (USA). Look at Africa and the greatest excuse is ethnic cleansing that is happening in a big manner with thousands being killed everyday. Conflict between Israel and lebanon is a 40 yr old affair. Payal provides some interesting insight into the dynamics of the media functioning on the principle of FUD– Fear , Uncertainity and doubt. And these 24 hr channels seem to barrage us with such images constantly thereby numbing us.The discussion went on to us agreeing that Indian youth are not yet so deeply affected or distorted that such incidents will not be a common occurence. But late that night we heard of a Shooting incident in an engineering college at Hyderabad.

These are some observations from Payal on the Psychology
There is ample research showing that increase in exposure to TV violence increases violence in real life, especially in children and teenagers. More importantly, there is the widespread phenomenon of desensitization where people that are exposed to so much violence get desensitized by it – what seemed aggressive and violent before, doesn’t bring about the same emotional response from us now. This can also contribute to a higher threshold of tolerance towards violence, especially in people who have deficient emotional and insufficient conscience development genetically.

Also, there is what is called a cycle of violence, which means that those who have been exposed to or experienced violence as kids are more likely to be violent when they are older. To that effect, the average American child is exposed to 13,000 violent deaths (not just violence) on TV betweent the ages of 5 to 15. The number would have increased considerably now. (Feldman, 2004) 8,000 tv murders by the time they are in elementary school. 82% of all programs broadcast contain violence. 32 violent acts per hour. (Berk, 2001). Highly aggressive children have greater appetite for violent TV. The more they watch the more they are likely to resort to violent and hostile methods of problem solving. This spirals into pattern of learning that contributes to serious anti social behavior by adolescents and young adulthood. This also leads to a skewed view of social reality in that heavy viewers of violent tv are more likely to believe that there is much more violence and danger in society (Gerbner etc al, 1979, Singer et al, 1984). The effects of violent video games are similar to those of violent TV programmes.

In today’s world with respect to media do not believe what you see in print, or what you hear on TV. Nowadays TV sensationalises acts at times inciting negative imprints on the human mind.

What we took out of this entire session is that even normal people undergo phases where you tend to succumb to mental pressures like burnouts so on. But what we feel is common is Love never fails ! Tell that to your friends, your children that you love them. Spread love and cherish such good feelings and i am sure you will make a difference. What has happened is past but we can do a lot about the future.

(After this interesting session that spanned for 30 minutes online , we identified the need to address this space of mental health as a dedicated blog where we will take up the issues related to a persons well being one topic after another. People who are interested to join this debate can join in online at 1700 hrs Friday and the topic is " Youth violence " Joining us in this space will be  Subha J Rao, a reporter from the Hindu – Coimbatore and Senthilkumar a sociologist and a founder of a school for the mentally challenged. )

Followup: After 10 days of publishing this post

There has been so many phone calls appreciating the content of this post and so on . Last weekend on the RTFF (Rooftop Film Festival) nandhu proposed a movie to be screened first called " Elephant

Absolutely amazing !, maybe he took the cue out of this post to throw more light on the shooting incident and the peer pressure at the colleges of today .

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3 thoughts on “Virginia Technology on campus shooting – A disaster waiting to happen !

  1. hi!i am from china!it’s worthy spending time on reading ur reasonable and great article!

    i do agree with these!
    What we took out of this entire session is that even normal people undergo phases where you tend to succumb to mental pressures like burnouts so on. But what we feel is common is Love never fails ! Tell that to your friends, your children that you love them. Spread love and cherish such good feelings and i am sure you will make a difference. What has happened is past but we can do a lot about the future

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