University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Violence as an social option
Violence is social phenomenon that has and always will be part of our human behavior. Individuals have a choice over violence and for some they are able to channel these feelings into a nondestructive outlet. Others, like the two students who shot twelve people in the Columbine High School Massacre, it exhibits a frightening lack of control. There are many influences and outside factors such as gaming, music and psychological processes that lead to violence. Violence is an option that one can choose and therefore is part of our individual responsibility but it will always be an inevitable feature of human relationships.
For many people, obedience is a deeply ingrained behavior tendency, indeed a potent impulse overriding training in ethics, sympathy and moral conduct (Milgram). Like obedience, humans are also ingrained with emotions such as anger. Anger is part of the biological reaction to danger and when it comes down to life or death, we are prepared to stand up and fight. It is a part of human instinct when it comes down to the fight or flight response but of course it is down to our own individual responsibility. But it is also our duty to find a sensible and rational outlet to channel our anger.
As professor Mike Anderson said at the Lecture 1/ Week 7 “ Violence is a natural part of early human social systems”. Whether it is domestic violence within the home to globe-spanning wars, violence is an inevitable feature that we carry. There are many possible causes and explanations for individual violence such as games, music, depressions, and empathy but in my opinion people who do not have the skill to manage their anger cause violence.
An issue that has become increasingly evident in our society today is whether violent video games can cause an individual to show increased aggression. The lecture in week 5 focused on the impact of violent video games on our society today and the potential effects it had on an individual. People who played video games were more likely to endorse violence in real life, see others as more hostile and be more insensitive. Gaming is an opportunity for accomplishment, they valued encyclopedic knowledge of various locations, names and features in GTA: San Andreas (DeVane). As shown in the research by Devane and Squire, the majority of people saw the virtual violence in the game to be clearly fictional and nearly trivial but for the minority of others who do not have the particular skill set to channel their anger, they take it out on the real world.
The Columbine high school massacre that occurred on April 20th 1999 is an example of two students named Eric Harris and Dylan Kleboid who suffered from clinical psychopathy and depression respectively. Research showed that they were avid fans of violent video games, they created mods for the games and even made a mock-up of the Columbine High School. Both students were arrested for theft in 1998 leading to their computer access being restricted, in my opinion they both did not now how to channel their anger as that passage was taken from them so they unleashed their anger to the real world through violence. It was later showed by psychiatrists that Harris was a psychopath and Klebold had depression, this is part of the psychological process connected with violence as said by Professor Mike Anderson. Both students showed similar attributes to Begbie from the movie Trainspotting, a short clip was shown in the lecture of Begbie glassing a man just because he had accidentally nudged him resulting to Begbie spilling his beer. A normal sane person would not have reacted with such hostility over such a small issue but Begbie channeled his anger through physical violence like the two students in Columbine.
Cognitive control or in other terms, self-control is what turns our anger into action. By simply watching a violent movie or listening to dark music, which was also one of the contributing factors to the Columbine shooting can make an individual more inclined to be violent. Violent individuals use their cognitive control mechanisms towards a vicious goal because they do not know how to repress that rage through another channel.
I conclude that violence is and always will be an inevitable feature of human relationships. Although we have the skills and understanding to treat violent individuals, we are reluctant to accept that violence belongs to each and every one of us.