Hate is not okay
The internet is overflowing with stories about the Orlando shooting yesterday at Pulse, a hot nightclub in the LGBTQ community there. Like always, Americans have differing opinions about what happened and why. Was it a gay thing? Was it a religious thing? Was it ISIS related? Was the shooter mentally unstable? Was he violent on a daily basis? Would the result be different if Americans didn’t have easy access to assault rifles? Should we ban assault rifles? Should we ban Muslims? Should we ban gays? Should we ban crazy people? Would changing any one of those elements make a difference?
All of this and more, I’m sure. Personally? I vote for banning assault rifles for personal use. Because, really? In what scenario does a private person need one of those things? When you’re living through a Hollywood-style apocalypse story is the only answer that makes sense to me. But I know a lot of people who disagree and think that placing any caveat on our 2nd Amendment rights will start a fast slide down a slippery slope. So…
Hatred, though. That’s the real issue, isn’t it? Somebody hates gays. Somebody else hates Muslims. Somebody else hates the Capitalist Pigs. We hate crazy people, disabled people, people with purple hair, brown skin, that dude with an extra toe. I’m willing to bet you can find an easy handful of Americans who hate at least one thing on the vast list of EVERYthing.
What I despise most about the internet, and our insta-news culture, is how every story is promoted with click bait. This inevitably leads to the following three (problematic) story writing rules
- The story must be dramatic.
- Drama sells. We want to read something exciting, right? Something to get our hearts racing, something we can have an opinion about. (Speaking of opinions, read this!)
- The material must instantly evoke a strong emotion.
- Love and Hate. If we’re talking basic human emotions, they’re it. If we’re talking emotions that are easily manipulated? You guessed it! They’re it, too. Now, love doesn’t sell much on the news circuit, unless you count baby animals being adorable. LOVE in the news, and most of the internet, is considered fluff. Insignificant: only relevant when there’s a spare corner or extra 30 seconds to kill. HATE, though. That’s meat and potatoes shit right there. If you want to sell a story, make it something everyone has a reason to hate. They don’t even have to be the same reason. Actually, it’s better if there’s a whole list of reasons to hate a story. You hit more demographics that way.
- The concepts must be digestible in a three second eye-scan of the page.
- This one drives me crazy, especially when it comes to social issues. They’re never simple. Bigotry, poverty, racism, sexism, extreme religiosity, etc, etc – none of it can be explained in a meme. And if you can’t explain a problem in three seconds, there’s no way the solution is simple either. Life is complicated (even on a good day), it’s multi-faceted, short term wins frequently lead to long term disasters, and ducking our heads in order to ignore these facts is absolutely unhelpful.
What’s happening as a result of our online culture? I’ll tell you. We are becoming an overly dramatic group of people who crave hatred and answers that require little to no thought or intelligence.
Hatred, though. We respond to tragedies like what happened at Pulse with more of it. We hate the shooter. We hate his religion. We hate gays for being the easy targets that they are. We hate the NRA. We hate the media for sensationalizing the very tragedy we spend 2 1/2 hours searching google, twitter, facebook, and the rest of the internet for information about. Our elected officials (BTW, I wanted to name them elected leaders, but I can’t.) jump on the bandwagon and make statements inflaming the hatred and promising simple answers. We hate them, too.
Are you noticing a political trend here? [[shudders]]
My answer is not LOVE. That’s also the easy answer, in my opinion. All you need is love? It’s a beautiful sentiment. First comes understanding, though, because I will never love racism, but I can understand the seeds from whence it stems. Same with folks who feel a need to buy a gun to protect their home and family. I don’t love their reasoning behind it, but I can work to understand it. I will never love the urge to cause a large group of people terror or physical harm and death. But I can try to understand how a person can reach that point. My point being it is difficult and almost impossible to hate a thing that you can understand. So I will always reach for a point of understanding.
Hatred, though… Can we just stop? Can we just, please?