The media in Sweden is (understandably) full about reports of the school shootings in Finland.* This is to be expected. But what surprises me is the focus on the fact that the perpetrator had made a video and posted it on YouTube.
The focus of Swedish media on the YouTube connection shows a fundamental lack of understanding about the use of technology today. The surprise should not be that a young disturbed man planning a school massacre places a video on YouTube but we should be surprised if the young man had not done so. The YouTube suicide note must be as predictable as death & taxes.
Despite this, the media calls in “experts” and asks them to explain what kind of anti-social cesspit YouTube is. They ask about the responsibility of YouTube, they ask why the events predicted in the film could not be stopped. They want to know how to prevent children from accessing YouTube to watch movies such as these and whether or not the films online are creating copycats.
Basically people do not seem to understand the YouTube culture. Firstly it is not a sub-culture. YouTube is a massive collection of sub-cultures. Secondly, YouTube is the logical result of camera and communications technology. It collects everything from death to porn (and death with porn), from toddlers to seniors, from party to study. Basically every type of activity that can be recorded on film is to be found there.
And the audience has seen it all. Here are some examples of search results:
- School violence 1770 videos
- Going postal 193 videos
- Weapons 126 000 videos
- Death 584 000 videos
And the audience has seen it all before.
So even if the audience had seen a young troubled Finn posing with a gun, shooting in the forest and making threats against the society around him – what was the audience supposed to do? Nobody runs out of a movie theater to get a cop because a murder is about to be committed. We just sit back, munch our popcorn and wait for the ending to come. The difference with YouTube is that the people watching can comment on the film and others can comment on the comments of others.
YouTube cannot be blamed for the site just as the audience cannot be blamed for not acting against the rantings of yet another gun-toting youth. The outrage should not be against the communications technology of the day but against the ability of disturbed people to be able to legally carry lethal weapons. For lets face it, if he had been armed with a knife, a hammer or a big stick – none of us would ever have heard of the Jokela high school in Tusby, Finland.
*The school shooting in Finland was another tragedy of the type we have almost come to expect on a regular basis. Probably the most shocking thing for Scandinavians is that this is the kind of thing that happens “only in America”. There is obviously no basis for this belief it’s just something everyone “knows” and therefore the shock is greater when our established knowledge is irrefutably challenged. No matter where things like this happen they are tragedies and the world should mourn the loss of life and innocence.