|Photo by Shaffeem, (Wiki.)|
In the old days, if a local cop got shot it would definitely make the local and regional papers. It would undoubtedly make the evening news...in Canada,
Canada has a population of about thirty-five million. But the U.S. has a population of 330 million. Previously, if a cop got shot in San Fransisco, readers in New York probably didn't see it in the paper, because there simply wasn't room to print all of those stories.
Even a big paper like the NY Times has only so much space and much of it will be dominated by local news. They leave out stuff that doesn't directly interest (or have an impact upon) their readers. The same is true of U.S. television news. There simply isn't enough time to report everything, even on CNN or whatever. What those guys do is cream off the top, that is to say, that which is most shocking (multiple killings, unusual events such as well-equipped snipers), or perhaps most relevant. The other thing is, a print report might take up a couple of column inches: sniper kills cops on the other side the country, for example.
It could be any kind of violence. It would still only get a couple of column inches, perhaps not even a photo. This could never have the visceral impact of a constant bombardment of such stories.
Many stories are video, some stories are live as it happens.
People are on Facebook for hours and hours at all hours of the day. It is a news-feed that never ends...it just goes on and on and on.
The impression, after a while, is that the nation is swamped in blood—and maybe it is.
Maybe it is, or maybe this is just the first time Americans have really had this kind of information about their country.
No wonder they are shocked, and no wonder the extreme reactions from both ends of what is a spectrum of public opinions.
Things really are different now.
The difference is one of perceptions.
Now we have all this information. And quite frankly, if a cop gets shot in some small town in Alaska, now we are going to hear about it.
Once you have a few friends on Facebook, then you potentially have friends all over the world, all of them literate, savvy in some degree to social media, and active to some degree on social sharing platforms.
On Facebook, with 1.6 billion people feeding in links, now we hear about every shooting--and every kind of shooting. It's not surprising that people are shocked at the level of violence. They simply didn't know that it existed before.
It’s not like some citizens didn’t already fear their neighbours, for their lives, families and property.
At the risk of appearing callous, this is social experiment on a grand scale.
And no one can really say what the effect will be—ultimately, perhaps people will become so sickened by what their country is and what it has become, that we might even see some real social progress.
The danger is that all of this information could be feeding paranoia, which is never a good basis for decision-making.