This is not what House meant

Today comes a chilling reminder that horrible news does not mean something like a writers strike, and that television is not to be taken literally. A school shooting in Finland left at least eight dead, including the killer. The photo CNN and other outlets are using is from his video manifesto posted to YouTube, and the t-shirt he’s wearing proves that having common affection for a particular TV show is not necessarily a heartwarming bond.

Media reports are playing up the YouTube angle, of course, because as the AMPTP would tell you, this Internet thing is new and scary. But as Greg Sandoval of CNET News points out, that’s as ridiculous as blaming the US Postal Service for the Unabomber.

Danah Boyd is an academic who studies social media, and posts more casually about it on her blog, Apophenia (which, coincidentally, means basically what my blog title is trying to convey – “making connections where none previously existed”). She’s written frequently about the media’s demonization of the Internet. One of her best starts there but gets into the idiocy of pointing fingers at things like YouTube instead of the root issues. Growing up in a culture of fear: From Columbine to banning of MySpace was written two years ago, but not much has changed:

Post-Columbine, we decided to regulate the symptoms of alienation rather than solve the problem. Today, we are trying to regulate youth efforts to have agency and public space. Both are products of a culture of fear and completely miss the point. We need to figure out how to support youth culture, exploration and efforts to make sense of the social world. The more we try to bottle it into a cookie-cutter model, the more we will destroy that generation.

Today, Sandoval writes his Perspective: In Finland shooting, fallout for YouTube?:

So what’s YouTube’s role? YouTube is a tool anyone can use, not an edited newspaper. It’s policed by the community that uses it. If something is indeed offensive, it can be removed. Yes, it’s a change from the old days, when a few people controlled who gets to speak at the bully pulpit. This is the democratization of information. No one gets to control who gets to say what anymore.

The finger-pointers would seem to want to control what troubled teens like Pekka Eric Auvinen post to YouTube instead of wonder why he would post what he did and do what he did and look for meaningful solutions to prevent the motivation for both. The Internet might be a wilderness, but if someone’s crying into it, it’s not just because it’s there.

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4 Responses to This is not what House meant

  1. jimhenshaw says:

    It’s always easier to shoot the messenger than deal with the content of the message.

    This is no more about “House” or “Youtube” than Virginia Tech was about Facebook or Columbine was about Marilyn Manson.

    What always intrigues me in these tragic situations is how the media attacks some aspect of itself. It’s as if there’s an ingrained self-loathing that just has to come out.

  2. Julia says:

    Excelente nota, Diane, y gracias por hacerme conocer a Danah Boyd.
    Adhiero al comentario de jimhenshaw, también.

    Es vergonzoso y ultrajante que se acuse al medio por el que se transmiten los mensajes, en lugar de revertir las causas del odio y el acceso a los intrumentos de muerte.

    No se mata con Youtube ni un programa de TV sirve para asesinar a nadie.

  3. Diane says:

    Gracias Julia, estoy de acuerdo, por supuesto!

    The translation of our guest from Argentina’s comment:

    Excellent post, and thanks for introducing me to Danah Boyd. I agree with Jim Henshaw’s comment too.

    It’s shameful and outrageous that they blame the media for transmitting messages instead of looking at the causes of hate and access to the instruments of murder.

    You can’t kill with YouTube and a TV program can’t murder anyone.

  4. Anonymous says:

    It strikes me that the people who are involved in commiting such a massacre are always leaving a sort of “message” on the internet (Youtube especially, because videos are a sort of witness that can tell us what they did); they always claim to be loner, but then they need an acknowledgement(that only by chance, nowadays, is represented by the internet). Of course, since it is the easiest thing to do, media are blaming the internet and tv for being responsible, and they will do it again (I hope it won’t happen again, but I’m afraid I think it will). In the past the same things happened and the claiming for reponsability might be through a letter to a newspapaper. The only thing that has changed is the medium. But, it’s also true that images, videos, are much more powerful than a verbal description,and Youtube/internet are like a magazine written by its own readers, so I can agree with some part of the “j’accuse” against them…..It’s a huge diatribe that I’m not sure has a precise answer…


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