Sitting in my living room while playing a mindless word game on a smartphone, a device owned by over 200 million Americans, I am presented with a commercial for another game available on my smartphone. The animated commercial shows people running out of a burning building while you as the potential controller in the game are holding an automatic rifle and shooting as many of these people as you can.
This image correlates directly with the most recent killing in Egypt as hundreds of worshipers fled an explosion in a mosque only to be faced with gunmen shooting and killing as many of them as possible. An event far from the thoughts of the average American.
Closer to home however, the image correlates with most of the last two decades of public shootings across America, starting with the Columbine High School shooting in April 1999.
It has been 18 Years since innocent teenagers witnessed one of the most heart wrenching and traumatizing events in American history, followed by years of repeated incidents in multiple schools and churches, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of Americans and emotional scarring of the survivors and witnesses which they will bear until the day they die.
We live in a culture of consumerism. We want to buy, we want whatever is being sold. We open for business, receptive to all and any product that is flashed in our faces. Consciously or sub consciously we embrace it.
You selling a Television, a Hamburger, an overseas holiday, we'll buy it. You selling a boat, a condo, a self-driven vacuum cleaner we'll buy it. You selling a chance to shoot and kill a room full of innocent church-goers, we'll buy it, download it, live the fantasy on our high definition smartphones until the next product catches our interest.
What if there isn't a next product and that one stays with us for a while. The lines between fantasy and reality start to blur. What happens if the image and thrill of taking innocent lives gets under our skin and we start to imagine, just for a moment what it would be like to play this game in the real world.
Seems all too obvious. Surely an educated young mind can distinguish fiction from reality. As sure as that same educated mind is not seduced by the promise of every other product being pushed to them through their smartphones.
Some can, most can, but what about just one, just one mis-guided impressionable mind that slips into that fantasy world and makes it real. Real enough to load and shoot a bullet from a fully automatic rifle through the brain of a 15 year high school girl, ending her life in a second.
Surely educated politicians, educated Tech CEOs, educated law-makers have seen enough blood-shed to remove that temptation from the shelves, from the movie screens and seize the display of killing for our entertainment.
Seems all too obvious….