COUNSELOR'S CORNER: Challenging our pre-conceptions and appreciating social media

By Fred Cavaiani

The latest mass killings are frightening.  Some people are loose cannons of emotion. Guns in the hands of emotionally unstable people lead to disaster.  How can we stop this?  In states where there are strict laws and background checks for buying guns the murder rate is down by 40%.  In almost all states where background checks for buying guns are lax, there is a high rate of murders by guns. 

The logic is simple: enact strict laws for purchasing guns and the murder rate will go down.  No one’s personal freedom is violated by strict rules for owning guns. We have strict rules for wearing seat belts and this has decreased deaths from car accidents.  States that have rules for wearing helmets by motorcyclists have fewer closed head injuries and deaths. The logic is simple.

Human beings are not always the models of mental health.  In our modern age we allow our children to be exposed to so much on the internet at early ages. Children from two years old on to adulthood can be playing violent games on their i-pods, i-pads, X-Boxes and other gaming systems. We allow the natural curiosity and impulsivity of youngsters to be fanned and flamed by games that can dull consciences and consequences.

Our children can be misdirected and misled by what they see and play on the internet.  ISIS continues to prey on the innocence of our children and the emotional instability of many young adults.
I am deeply afraid for the future.  We can be raising children who have vague ideas of consequences.  When a young child grows up with killing people in games with guns, explosives, and in his or her mind this is called gaming, then what will reality be like?

Is there more violence in the world today? The truth:  We are a much less violent society today than ever before.  Deaths per 100,000 by violence have decreased from 783 deaths per one hundred thousand in 1992 to 343 deaths per 100,000 in 2011. The number continues to decrease.  Research shows that we are becoming more peaceful globally than ever before in history.

I was starting to write this article bemoaning our children being exposed to such violence through television, social media and the internet.  Now I am informed that violence has actually gone down.  In a reverse manner, the quick and almost immediate awareness we observe about violence may actually be a deterrent to violence.  The news media virtuously condemns violence and shows us the horror of violence.  Atheists, agnostics, fundamentalist religious believers and very liberal religious believers all seem to agree that violence and murder is not a good or desired experience.

Maybe it is time to appreciate our social media and social awareness.  Just writing this article and then looking at the research has totally changed my mind and attitude.  What I perceived as all of us being influenced negatively about violence and emotional control by our social media and internet may be just the opposite. Social media, internet, iPod, iPad, and gaming systems may be having a positive influence on all of us.

Though we have nuclear weapons, no country has used them against another country in the past 70 years.  Though 37% of American households own guns, the murder rate has actually gone down.  However, the awareness of murder, crime, political turmoil and violence has increased tremendously because news of violence is almost immediate. 

Maybe what we need to continue the downward trend of crime and violence is to have more immediate news of peace, meditation, kind acts towards others, and people helping one another.

I do not own a gun and never will. Yet maybe the issue is not worrying about gun control so much or what games our children are playing on their iPad.  Maybe it is the awareness we give to others about the sadness that results from violence and the happiness that results from prayerful, peaceful living.

Television and all our social media are really positive proponents for healthy change.  We can all become a positive proponent for change if we listen carefully and challenge our preconceived ideas to a reality check.  I am beginning to realize more and more that “I can’t believe everything I think.”
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Fred Cavaiani is a licensed marriage & family therapist and psychologist with a private practice in Troy.  He is the founder of Marriage Growth Center, a consultant for the Detroit Medical Center, and Henry Ford Medical Center. Fred conducts numerous programs for groups throughout Southeastern Michigan. His column in the Legal News runs every other week.  He can be reached at 248-362-3340.  His e-mail address is: Fredcavi@yahoo.com and his website is fredthecounselor.com

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