Trashed

By Arvind Srinivasan

Gears of War is the greatest game ever invented. No joke. Graphically destroying an enemy in full armor with advanced weapons, stealthily moving undercover, could only have been the brainchild of a true genius. Indeed, the advent of violence in movies, video games, the internet, and the general media has been a blessing to my generation and the bane of parents. In fact, the prevailing theory is that it fosters a mindset of violence in my generation. Furthered by irresponsible car accidents, school shootings, and DUIs that are blown up by the media, the popular belief seems to state that the availability and appeal of violence actually increases the likelihood that an impressionable teenager will commit a violent act. Let's clear something up. Violence is bad, in real life. When someone is violent towards another, regardless of what caused them to do it, it is stupid. Furthermore, stupidity carries on regardless of demographics, wealth, or social class. Somehow, though, there is an additional media emphasis that is placed on certain demographics to be free of such societal blemishes. Take the example of my school. Due to its reputation as an upstanding private school with a long history of excellence, it was a cataclysmic event when two juniors made and threw chlorine bombs over a fence and into a party. Intentions are unknown. Things like these happen everyday – for proof – you can turn to your local newspaper section. The distinction is, however, that the culprits went to my school. But is that really a distinction at all? Public schools in hard neighborhoods are chronic locations of crime, for example in Oakland or the Bronx, yet there are many even in those circumstances who never find any trouble in school. On the polar opposite, my school has an expectation of a high standard, yet it is completely possible for the two juniors to have removed themselves from this norm. The possibilities are infinite. We could speculate on their degree of premeditation, their possibility of a revenge attack, a desire for it being a prank, the accessibility of making a chlorine bomb through the Internet and such, or their adolescent volatility. Yet, does this really solve the problem, or just provide excuses for their behavior? In the end, to be honest, they were stupid. They will more likely than not end up in juvenile hall, throwing away a private school education and most likely a successful future. I do not suggest that we should let the issue go untouched, though. It is clear what promotes this stupidity, that which is universal throughout humanity – upbringing and attitudes towards life, not their choice of school. If the two students were hard working honors students, chances are they would not be caught in a high school party equipped with chlorine bombs. This situation becomes possible if the juniors were blasé about school, had a bad home life, tended towards bad company and situations, or were subject to peer pressure. Instead of looking for opportunities to ostracize HALO, I urge, look to correct these intrinsic problems, because as each day passes, more and more teenagers are throwing their lives into the trash. Arvind Srinivasan is Scottish. No more, no less. And yet, haggis is revolting.

7 thoughts on “Trashed

  1. Anand

    Well said Arvind, many congratulations! Another wonderful, well written and insightful piece from you. You are bang on when you mention upbringing and attitude towards life as key factors influencing the behavior of juniors, not to mention the world at large. Would be interested to know how your school handled this episode, for therein lies the seed for redemption for these two youngsters and other juniors with similar mindsets.

    Once again, well written, and do keep them coming.

    Cheers!

    Anand

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  2. Jaya Murthy

    Good points made, Arvind. What worries me though is the obsessive addiction to these games. Perhaps they should include commands like “now go have a bath” to achieve the next rank!

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  3. Ranju

    While the main point of the article is that the school you go to doesn’t influence “the violence index”, I found it interesting that you thought that violent online games are similarly non-impactful. (“In fact, the prevailing theory is that it fosters a mindset of violence in my generation.”)
    It always strikes me how easy it is to kill someone without serious consequence in these online games (Game over is not impactful enough.) It isn’t hard to carry the no-consequence thinking into reality. We now not only have the ability to cause mass destruction with our stockpile of missiles and such, we now have a generation of folks mentally conditioned to do so without considering the consequences because of their vast experience with game-playing. A dangerous mindset; and its not just stupid people that fall for it, IMO.
    Violence is a fact of life for sure. But it doesn’t have to be something you have easy access to, for a couple hours a day, everyday.
    I’d prefer that war games be restricted to soldiers as part of their training package, at least they also have the associated physical exercises and maneuvers that rounds off their military education.
    But then again, what do I know? I’m just a parent 🙂
    Oh, nice article BTW.

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  4. RSV SUBRAMANIAN

    Arvind,
    You have extra-ordinary skills in persuasive communication. The soft focus you put violence in and the subtle detachment of the perpetrator from his own irresponsibility are however hardly deserving of your skills.
    Certainly I admire your writing. You could shape up to be a great writer, attorney and politician all rolled into one. America is fortunate.
    By the way what are haggis?
    Mani Chithappa

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  5. R.S.Venkataraman.

    Apologies; I am late again. In a number of violent crimes like kidnapping an innocent child,a friend or a minor and killing them, a jewellery heist and murdering an old person in his house for money, the perpetrators were students,some of them hailing from affluent families,and, in their startling confessions they revealed that they were inspired to commit the crimes in the manner they did, by some movie or TV serial. The pernicious proclivity for such evil deeds has been unobtrusively sown in their minds by the gruesome depiction of violence of all kinds in the movies/ serials/ video games. I feel this is no longer a mere theory but a proven fact. I am profoundly interested to see what you have to say about how to counter this problem. Sincere compliments to you for the well written article. Love, Thaatha.

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  6. Madhav

    Arvind, you make a forceful point – we adults should stop assuming that teenagers will be unable to stop themselves from translating their joy for virtual gaming violence into reality. This is similar to the point that Divya made in her article about parenting – arguing that a child is able to differenciate false praise from true.
    Reasons for teen violence are many – being constantly exposed to real violence or abuse at home or in the neighbourhood, mixing with wrong company,…but those reasons are real, not virtual.
    I’d rather see teenagers vent their adolescent emotions on imaginary enemies than real ones.

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  7. Annie

    not good people well do that i hate people that do that 😦 😦 😦 😦 😦 😦 😦 😦 😈 😈 😈 😈

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