My mom and I were driving from her home in Kentucky to my home in Atlanta last week and embarked in a lengthy, eight hour conversation. We talked about everything from growing up to her grandchildren, from what the future held for each of us to our recent loss–her husband and my stepdad. In the midst of our conversation, somewhere between Knoxville and the exit for Philadelphia (Philadelphia, Tennessee, that is) we discussed how trivial and scary it is nowadays for kids to grow up when she made the comment that she just prefers to be “blissfully ignorant” rather than processing and thinking about the awful things that happen to our children. That comment stuck with me, and the more I process those words the more I believe them.
My mom stated that when she was a kid, her and her brothers and sisters could just run around all day long and had to be home when her mother turned on the porch light. Her mother never worried about where they were going, who they were with or even how the youngest child, barely five, would keep up with the older siblings. When I grew up, we knew we had to head home once the street lights came on, but much like when my mom was little, she didn’t really worry about who we were with, where we were going or how my little brother kept up with me and my sister. We knew that if we stayed within a five-mile radius of our house, we’d be okay. But what strikes me the most about our conversation isn’t the fact that times were safer back then–because they weren’t. What strikes me the most is my mom’s comment, “I suppose evil people existed back then just like they do now. Things weren’t talked about like they are now. I guess I would rather be blissfully ignorant than knowing the truth.” Now, how true are those words? Very. And I’m going to explain why.
Indeed, there were evil people back then. In every decade. In every generation. In every state, city and neighborhood. But why are things talked about more so than 30 or 40 years ago? As a realist, I tend to seem less empathetic than some because it bothers me when people justify their behavior and/or actions, but the truth is that it absolutely hurts my heart to hear, see or read devastating or tragic stories. I hate that mankind is so evil. I hate that my kids can’t go to the street behind ours without me freaking out and having to think about potential threats to their well being. Maybe being blissfully ignorant isn’t such a bad idea? After all, being blissfully ignorant would keep me from hearing all the tragic stories that surround us on a daily basis.
Then it hit me.
There is NO WAY there are more evil people out there now than there were a handful of decades ago. So why does it seem like more and more are climbing out the woodwork each day? Because their actions are being so heavily displayed on outlets such as social media, television, the internet and through print media. And even more importantly, we’re feeding their sick and twisted addictions and thoughts through all these outlets.
Take for example the new cover of Rolling Stone magazine. Putting an accused (not convicted) terrorist on any magazine cover is repulsive. Writing an 11,000-word article justifying the fact this kid terrorized an entire country is even worse than trying to display him as the monster with an angel face. However, I can say quite certainly that this kid, along with his brother, found out how to make bombs with the intent to kill a mass amount of people on the internet. Being able to make a bomb takes three things: a sickness of some sort, an intent to do harm, and research. I doubt that back in the day you could go to a local county library, locate index cards on subjects that consist of pipe bomb making and check it out for a month. My point here is that we feed these sicknesses…we just take people’s twisted thoughts and make them realities. Here you go!! Want to make a shrapnel-filled case bomb? No problem! Read preparation lines 1-13 and viola! your bomb is ready for use. Jeezus, it makes me sick.
Want another example of how we, as a society, feed twisted addictions? Pornography. Recently, I had a pretty deep conversation with a 76-year-old woman. She informed me that she divorced her husband nearly 40 years ago due to his pornography addiction, and I thought, “Wow. A divorce forty years ago for porn, and porn back then would probably be considered what we see on Family Guy today!” So I thought about it a little more and decided to do a little research. An article I found stated that “56 percent of divorce cases involved one party having an obsessive interest in pornographic websites.” Furthermore, this article states, “If these numbers are accurate, here’s a very sobering statistic. Every year for the past decade there have been roughly 1 million divorces in the United States. If half of the people divorcing claim pornography as the culprit, that means there are 500,000 marriages annually that are failing due to pornography.”
Astonishing and sobering numbers, aren’t they? Here’s a link to the article if you’d like to check my reference: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/inside-porn-addiction/201112/is-porn-really-destroying-500000-marriages-annually. My point here, again, is that society feeds addictions. Society feeds twisted thoughts. Want to learn how to make meth? Google it. Want to know a safe place to purchase a wife? Or a sex slave? Google it. Want to know where to purchase a kidney? Bing it. Yahoo it. Whatever. Wherever. It’s there.
The internet and social media, in my mind, cause far more damage than the benefits it provides. Child predators can get online and scope out a potential target. Predators lurked back in the day, too, but their sicknesses weren’t so easily fed to them then as they are now. Porn addicts can easily access anything, at any time. Spouses can learn how to cover up a murder and wipe away traces of evidence online. Terrorists can learn how to build bombs and even recruit members to their sick societies. Drug addicts learn how to make their own drugs. The “opportunities” are endless online, aren’t they?
I’ll stick with using the internet to look up recipes or DIY ideas. Research scientific articles on earth’s formation and what a black hole is. I’ll use the internet to connect with my family and friends, research my family’s genealogy, purchase a designer dress slightly worn for half the original cost, College Pick ‘Em on ESPN and I’ll obviously use the internet to blog. I just wish the internet wasn’t so free, so easily usable and so easily utilized. And I undoubtedly wish I could be, like my mom prefers, to be blissfully ignorant. Sometimes it’s just better not to know.