The Joker

His isolation.

Their inability to distinguish reality from pretend.

Those are two of the primary observations that continue to emerge from the devastation of the Colorado shooting.

By all accounts James Holmes was a nice enough guy but no one really knew him. He kept to himself. He was smart but a loner.

We are the most well-connected society ever and yet, we are increasingly socially isolated. Studies have shown that people who use social networks like Facebook or Linkedin are 30 percent less likely to know their neighbors and 26 percent less likely to provide them companionship.

The socially isolated used to be considered the oddball in a community, still, everyone knew their name.

Technology is isolating us in ways we don’t recognize and have never before experienced. We are often not aware of who among us feels isolated, cut-off, alone, depressed, troubled. Unless they post it on their Facebook status or update their Twitter feed, how is  a person supposed to know?

And how, pray tell, are we supposed to be able to distinguish reality from pretend? We have generations who have grown up watching “reality TV”. YouTube generations who expect to find themselves in the midst of the next viral-video hoax.

I felt something wet, she said. I thought it was a water-balloon. That so much wetness could only come from a water-balloon. 

I didn’t believe that someone was really shooting at us. 

Reality TV is problematic because it “requires viewers to disengage from the suffering of other people or to derive enjoyment from it,” said Mary Oliver, a Penn State communication professor, who has been studying the impact of reality TV viewing.

It’s not that we can’ t tell when the Bachelorette is faking it, but that we can’t really tell when someone means business.That the tragedy took place in a movie theater heightened the possibility that it was all a hoax of some sort.

The blurring of the lines. One man’s fantasy becomes another’s nightmare.

Is it any wonder that James Holmes envisioned himself as the Joker?

 

About Karen Spears Zacharias

Author. Speaker. Journalism Instructor. Four kids. Three dogs. One grandson.

  • Sharon O

    it is a terrible tragedy and the worst part of it ‘he saved himself’…


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