I’ve got a problem with the way a story was handled last week. I get a lot of calls from people who have a problem with the way news stories are handled. And for the most part, it is folks who really don’t know how journalism actually works. Specifically they don’t understand the difference between news and commentary. It used to bother me more than it does now, but these days it’s no wonder so many people are confused about the difference. We have “news outlets” really trying to mask the difference between news and commentary to appeal to an increasingly polarized society. It happens on both ends of the political spectrum and I’d specify which news sources are most guilty of it, but that would be pointless. If I pointed at a right leaning outlet guilty of bias, I’d just get a bunch of “meh meh meh, Liberal Media, meh meh meh,” neo-con nonsense. Conversely If I pointed to a left bias outlet I’d get a lot of “whaaa, corporate media conspiracy,” tinfoil-hatter tripe. By the way, if you are someone who does not think that someone can see both of those viewpoints as ridiculous, you are wrong. If you think there is only 1 side trying to bias the media, you are wrong as well. I find few people in the world less intelligent than a person who refuses to even look at both sides of an argument. More often than not, both sides have legitimate concerns.
But this time I’m going to have to complain about how a local story was handled, by all of the local outlets and even including KNSS. I’m talking about the incident where 2 children were almost hit crossing the street, and when police investigated they found the father indoors PLAYING VIDEO GAMES.
No, the focus of the story didn’t seem to be the MARIJUANA and drug PARAPHERNALIA lying around in PLAIN SIGHT and the wafting odor of POT lingering in the air. No, the headline seemed to be “Dad Playing Video Games While Children Wander in the Street.”
People can say what they want about a liberal or conservative bias in the media, but the only real media bias is a tendency to fear-monger and scapegoat. Oh, and to ignore the fact that no credible study has ever found a link between violent behavior (or any kind of criminal behavior) and video games (except perhaps software piracy.) There are several un-scientific studies paid for by extremist watchdog lobby groups that have “proven” the link though. The tragedy at Columbine, isn’t ever brought up without someone mentioning video games as a cause. Even though those kids were popping anti-psychotics like tic-tacs, it was the video games’ fault. Even though they had prescriptions for mood-elevating anti-psychotics, proving a clinically diagnosed mental instability, it’s the video games’ fault. And blaming the video games is so common these days. Kids are fat… blame the video games, kids won’t listen… video games, won’t do homework… it’s the video games, suicide attempt… drug problem… and so on.
Well, I’ve had it. I’ve played the most brutal and violent video games ever made from the advent of the ultra violent game era until today. So have most of my friends and NONE OF US HAVE EVER KILLED, BEATEN, RAPED, ABUSED, or TORTURED ANYONE. So much for the “proven link.” Here’s some easy to understand numbers that throw sand on the “link.” Less than 20,000 murders happened in the U.S. in 2011. The Videogame Modern Warfare 3 sold 6.5 MILLION copies IN ONE DAY in 2011. One of those numbers is bigger than the other. A “proven link” between violent behavior and violent video games would suggest that on Nov. 9th we would have seen a massive killing spree that would have left U.S. cityscapes as devoid of inhabitants as anything in AMC’s The Walking Dead.
So if it’s not the video games, then what is it? Sorry if I offend anyone, but I blame the parents. If someone has a “problem child” my immediate assumption is that they are too lazy, ignorant, and self-centered to properly raise a kid. I know it’s not fair to make a snap judgment like that without looking at the individual cases…
Oh, that’s exactly the same way the anti-video game people argue. See what I did there?
Video games are a pastime. An escapism no different than TV, movies, or a good book. Personally, I find them kind of therapeutic. After a long night at work in which I am subjected to several phone calls from some extremist fringe paranoid nutjob who blathers on and on accusing me and “the media” of some vast conspiracy to (insert whatever his paranoid delusions are today here,) I can go home and relax with some virtual murders. It only takes 10 or 15 minutes of quality gaming time, and I’m 99% over the desire to use the caller ID info from the call to find the guy and murder him, then torch the house to cover my tracks.
Lucky for everyone I usually will play a game for longer stretches of time than that. Oh, and thank the traffic trackers because good calls are a great reminder that most listeners are decent and helpful people.