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"Are people more violent now?"

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Wed 18/04/07 at 16:33
Moderator
"possibly impossible"
Posts: 24,985
More and more incidents, such as the University shooting the other day, seem to appear to be happening. Is this a sign that we're getting more violent as a society, or at least certain countries are becoming more violent? Or is it a growing minority of people suffering with mental health issues due to some change in the way we live today?

Obviously it's a gross generalisation to say we're getting more violent. Just look at the Roman Empire or any one of a number of historical groups of people and you'll see not just battles between borders but internal fighting, slaughter and blood. Today it seems to be more focused on individuals than organised groups, though there are enough gangs (yes, thanks to Ross Kemp for pointing that out). Our wars are less bloody and feel more detached to those of us not on the battlefield. So maybe this lack of war or organised violence has created a reservoir of pent up aggression?

Whatever changes on an organised front have happened, it’s certainly the individual that now seems to be causing the main violent outbursts, or perhaps this is the media’s need to report any and every occurrence? There seem to be (and possibly are) more people suddenly going off the rails, particularly in America, where gun crime is rife and guns are legally sold over the counter. But even if they weren’t, another weapon would be used. You only have to look at the amount of sword killings in this country to see that banning guns does not completely solve the answer. It makes it harder to kill so many people so easily, but those same people who would wield a gun would find another way to kill instead.

If these incidents are happening more often, though, perhaps it’s a sign of humanity’s mental state as a whole, or more specifically in those countries like the US where it happens more often. Perhaps pressure from society (the haves and have nots or political correctness and many other issues) or even the food we eat (junk food has been shown to have negative affects on health, and mental health is included) go towards making us less ‘sane’ at the end of the day. If this is the case, it really needs to be looked at. One thing that points to this more than any other is the amount of personal crime involving people who ‘snap’ in America compared to Europe. The lifestyle, diet and society is different. But more than this, the UK is a good mix of the two and if this country has a near enough average number of incidents between the figures of Europe and the US it would certainly point to the way we live and what we eat/do as a contributing cause.

So is Macdonalds killing our brain? I don’t think it’s that simple or straight forward. A number of things are probably to blame, media possibly being the least likely to affect any ‘normal’ person and send them on a killing spree. Maybe people are being born with more violent tendencies, or are we just creating them through the way we live these days?
Sat 28/04/07 at 07:55
Regular
"Author of Pain"
Posts: 395
Thousands of years ago, human beings would slaughter eachother in order to obtain enough food to survive. This was a regular occurance, and indeed deemed necessary to continuance.

Today, at least in western society, there is no such need, and by point of fact, violence is reduced by orders of magnitude.

Yet some element remains. Some new threat to the peace rears its head with every passing day, threatening lives and causing grief.

The reason for this is relatively simple. The fact happens to be that we are advancing technologically as a race, but not adapting socially in proportion. Lack of focus breeds poor parents, lack of respect breeds ignorance, lack of attention breeds contempt.

Apathy in the face of the want of total entertainment, the feeling that we are owed time for ourselves, and that distractions from this are both opposite to our needs and will go away if we ignore them long enough have brought about a social crisis which is spiralling away in the only direction human beings know how.

Why do people acquire guns and indiscriminately shoot people? Because they have no sense of kinship with humanity, and humanity gives them no reason to.

Are people more violent now? With our colourful history, I don't think that's possible. But that is not to say that there is not a problem.
Wed 25/04/07 at 12:12
Regular
"Laughingstock"
Posts: 3,522
Like everything else, violence evolves into different forms. The internet, the news media, film influence certain types of gratuitous violence, I'd say. The current beheadings probably only happen because they can be posted on the internet for shocking effect. The V-tech shooter probably only did what he did because he knew it would be featured on the global news networks thus propelling him to instant infamy. Advances in technology has meant war violence takes on a more hands-off form. Err, what am I saying. I think I'm trying to say No to the original question.
Thu 19/04/07 at 23:34
Regular
"Excommunicated"
Posts: 23,284
No, people are not more violent.

If anything I'd say the percentage of attacks has went down from a few decades ago. I'd argue the over-18s have fallen in fighting etc whilst the younger generation has all gone to hell.

I saw an excellent article in a magazine years ago where it explained how it was just the rise of greater communication/news that gives the impression of a more violent society. It's still very violent in Glasgow but nothing compared to how bad it was in the 50s-70s.
Thu 19/04/07 at 13:16
Regular
"8==="
Posts: 33,481
Well I'd certainly side with 'they're mental' over 'the media is to blame'.

However there are other things to consider, one that springs to mind is the concept of honour and people's customs.

Now I'm not trying to paint broad strokes here but honour killings do seem to have become more common and I think this is due to our more multicultural society. Furthermore in some of the eastern european countries when a person makes a 'proper enemy': they mean to kill them at somepoint.

Now I'm not too sure of the finer points of this (isn't this a recurring theme in our posts on this subject!?) but aside from the old concept of a 'duel' there isn't anything like this in Ye Olde British culture and if you enter into a dispute with someone who becomes your enemy to some degree you don't usally expect them to try to kill you over it.

So it's a change/differences/clash in culture/cultures that may be to blame to some degree.

Food for thought.

Edit: Now whether these sort of things represent an increase in violence or merely get more coverage on the news due to being out of the ordinary is worth considering also.

Looking back over the years we've had football hooligans (still do), punks, "race riots", and mods and rockers stabbing one another. So cultural changes causing violence isn't actually anything new.
Thu 19/04/07 at 13:02
Moderator
"possibly impossible"
Posts: 24,985
Well I still think the majority of violent killings happen because the killer has some mental issue and if this is true then the reason for any rise in violent killings must also be the reason why people are either breaking down or even being born with something that will stop them from functioning as a normal member of society. However, this is personal opinion and I don't have the evidence to back this up without going looking for it, just that I perceive the link to be one that stands out.

This is where it gets muddy, though. Is there a sufficient mental breakdown that changes the personality of the person committing the act or, as is suggested in some people's replies here, media and other influences can so easily change people who have otherwise perfectly normal mental conditions.

Many of the school killers who are reported seem to have backgrounds that suggest a long series of mental issues, is this down to media too?

Sure, petty theft and muggings may have some influence from the media, though they've been going on since time began, just look at old news reports from Victorian London for evidence of that. They may have become slightly more violent now, but these are not the stand out acts that seperate our society now from where it was a century or more ago.
Thu 19/04/07 at 09:39
Regular
"lets go back"
Posts: 2,661
I don't think its media influences in the sense that violent films make people killers etc.(although thats possible, maybe) I meant that the news reports violent crime more readily. If you go and buy any newspaper today there is bound to be a story in it about someone who has recently been stabbed/shot/attacked. Click on the BBC news website and you'll see the same thing. You'll see it on the news on TV too. Does this mean the frequency of attacks are going up or is it the speed of reporting such attacks that just make it appear to be on the increase.

Thinking about it a bit more since yesterday, however, it does seem that people are pointlessly attacking people these days. Im NOT advocating mugging or murder etc. but I can at least understand why a drug addict would mug a guy for his wallet. Its a means to an end. These days, however, there seems to be lots of young people who who attack people just for the please of attacking them.
Thu 19/04/07 at 09:22
Regular
"8==="
Posts: 33,481
Nin wrote:
>
> That is utter balls. I see it regularly.

Oh the old 'I live in a violent area therefore everywhere else is similar'. Sorry that doesn't wash. It might be slightly more violent where you live but conditions shift in different places.

>
> Thats balls as well.

Ahaha, reasoned.

It's reported crime and even then the
> figures are massaged, split into groups of serious and
> non-serious etc.

And, even if this were true, this somehow proves that people are more violent now?

'fraid not.
Thu 19/04/07 at 09:17
Regular
"Monochromatic"
Posts: 18,487
Hedfix wrote:
> Actually the country hasn't gotten more violent, it's just things
> are reported upon more now.

That is utter balls. I see it regularly.

> I think if you look at violent crime figures you'll see they
> prove that to be true.

Thats balls as well. It's reported crime and even then the figures are massaged, split into groups of serious and non-serious etc.
Thu 19/04/07 at 09:17
Regular
"8==="
Posts: 33,481
Oh and you're missing the rather large influence of the ten commandments/bible etc influencing people's behaviour.

Not to mention the idea of being good to get into heaven etc.

Of course it gets a bit mixed-up when you consider that kings were/are supposed to be ordained by god and the violent actions some of those kings were responsible for.
Thu 19/04/07 at 09:15
Regular
"8==="
Posts: 33,481
Actually the country hasn't gotten more violent, it's just things are reported upon more now.

I think if you look at violent crime figures you'll see they prove that to be true.

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