We have forgotten about the boys
13 March 2018
In light of a recent tragedy, President Trump made comments regarding what he believed to be a contributing factor to the damaged psyche of a 19-year-old mass murderer.
The President noted that he was hearing ‘more and more people say the level of violence on video games is really shaping young people’s thoughts,’ and that you can ‘go the further step and that’s the movies. You see these movies, they’re so violent,’ Trump said.
Ironic coming from a man whose favourite movie is Bloodsport and famously likes to fast forward to the fight scenes. Regardless, Trump’s comments struck a chord with me. Not because they were particularly profound but simply because they reignited a discussion I thought we had all moved past—that video games were the root of all evil teenagers.
You don’t need to be a scientist to know this is wrong. To believe that video games and movies cause violence, you only need to be a pedantic parent or blame-shifting president. Not all video games are violent, but all violent video games are for adults. It’s simply dishonest to mention the prevalence of violent video games without also mentioning the existence of the ESRB.
Grand Theft Auto V and Call of Duty: WWII are both rated ‘mature,’ meaning they cannot be purchased by those under the age of 17, a far cry from the ‘young kids’ and ‘young minds’ Trump referred to. By that age, individuals are fully responsible for their own actions. You can’t blame it on sugar, cartoons, or rock music.
We know this already. The only reason video games are spotlighted nowadays is because they are misunderstood. Older generations don’t play video games. They have no stake in their existence. It’s easy to dismiss something you have never experienced and don’t quite ‘get.’ You don’t see any artistic merit or entertainment value in Grand Theft Auto, just bloodshed and carjackings. With a perception like that, it would be strange if you didn’t believe the link between video games and violence was more than just a correlation.
But it’s an especially egregious excuse for violence when it comes from supporters of gun rights. Don’t get me wrong; you can certainly be an advocate for both. However, you can’t help but see the hypocrisy in someone who argues that you shouldn’t blame inanimate objects yet blames digital video games and plastic controllers for youth violence.
Video games are not the problem, and their prevalence in our culture isn’t raising a generation of young men to become sadistic and anti-social.
That’s something else.
Believe me, it might not be happening to everyone, but something is causing young men specifically to act out against society. Testosterone and increased aggression in males is certainly a factor, though not the only one.
We have forgotten about the boys. We have forgotten how to raise them and that abandonment has turned many young men into volatile individuals.
Depression, unemployment, criminality, anxiety, suicide.
Mental health and behaviour will forever be the most important factors in leading someone down a path of crime or instability. Could violent media accentuate that journey? Maybe, although we shouldn’t overlook the fact that violent media can also be an outlet for aggression and stress, as it has been for many people including myself.
We need to stop looking for collective solutions that lead nowhere. Limiting violent video games won’t stop the next school shooter.
The only thing that could’ve stopped some of these boys from turning evil was psychiatric help, attention, and care. We have a serious problem in our society about men seeking help. There’s a stigma attached to it that denigrates you as somehow less of a man, yet at the same time, we teach our boys about their ‘toxic masculinity’ and their potential not as leaders but as rapists.
Video games don’t make people violent. As Dr. Jordan Peterson so often points out, nihilism makes people violent. Nihilism is the result of moral abandonment. It’s when you lose all faith in humanity—when you become comfortable with the casual dispensing of human life.
Of course, both sexes are important. But while we constantly worry about the women at the top and whether they can make it to CEO, we overlook the men at the bottom who see no direction but down.
This is the conversation that needs to be had, not the decades-old trite that is ‘video games cause violence.’