A mass murder in Saskatchewan shook the nerves of Canadians, but can we really use the word “shocked” anymore.
In one of my first interviews with former talk-show host, Jerry Springer, many years ago, I asked him if he was “shocked” by what happened on his out-of-control daytime show. Thinking he’d say, “Of course, it always gets crazier,” Springer instead said he’s not “shocked” by anything anymore.
He said he stopped feeling “shock” after seeing so many tragic world events play out, most notably 9-11.
So, fast forward to Labour Day weekend when at least 10 people were killed in multiple stabbing attacks in Canada.
Maybe we’re surprised it happened in a certain place. Maybe we’re in disbelief it happened to/with whom. And so now, Springer’s thoughts make me wonder: Are we truly “shocked” by anything anymore?
As Canadians, we seem to have a dismissive view of gun violence in the U.S. Even Americans have the attitude, “Here we go again” when there are near-daily reports of mass shootings. Are Americans “shocked” by them — still? Doesn’t seem like it.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not downplaying the severity or seriousness of the Saskatchewan incident. It’s sad that we’ve become so desensitized to violence, however it’s around us all the time and that’s what happens.
Yes, the case can be made that mental health/illness plays a role but maybe just the overall rage as a society has something to do with it.
When websites such as TMZ are glamorizing brawls at football and baseball stadiums with weekly videos; aggressive and violent in-flight confrontations with unruly passengers; and street fights in Los Angeles every other weekend, I wonder if the gossip website is straying from its initial concept — celebrity news — because they know they get clicks with the violent stuff.
I spend little time on Facebook, but earlier this year when the new “Reels” function was activated, I was forever seeing uploaded content of, well, the TMZ-type stuff: Random people duking it out on the street, a loud-mouthed “Karen” getting into it with a store employee.
We’ve heard how websites work now: They display content that gets the most interactions from its visitors. Whether or not we watch similar content, somehow it targets us and displays it on our screen.
While I agree the mainstream media should responsibly cover stories that affect us, I wonder if we’re doing society any favours with the latest “viral” video of that Starbucks confrontation or that United Airlines passenger beatdown.
Maybe that old saying, “Give the audience what it wants” should have its limits.