1. Mass Shootings and Terrorism
You probably thought I was going to start this list off with something cute and cliche like, “Stop caring what people think about you,” right?
Well, fuck that. Let’s offend some people.
I think we should care less about mass shootings and terrorism.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t defend ourselves or that these events don’t matter or that gun violence in general isn’t an issue. I’m simply saying that our emotional and social reactions to mass shooting incidents are both unnecessary and potentially harmful.
First, there are the practical considerations: you’re as likely to die from a refrigerator falling on you as a terrorist attack, and mass shooting deaths constitute less than 1% of gun-related deaths in the US (pro tip: ⅔ of gun-related deaths are suicides). If we’re going purely by statistical effects on society at large, these don’t even rank in the top 10 in terms of threats or dangers to the population.¹
But here is why it seems that mass shootings and terrorism (and let’s be honest, they’re almost the same thing) are such a big deal:
Because they go viral.
Today, culture is dominated by what gets attention for the simple reason that what gets attention spreads the fastest and furthest. And if something dominates our culture, we just assume that that person or event is important.
Let’s call this “The Kardashian Rule.”
The more viral a person or event is, the more the culture will overestimate its importance.
I’ve called this The Kardashian Rule because a few years ago, Kim Kardashian did a nude photoshoot for a mainstream magazine. It dominated the news media for days, with all sorts of unironic think-pieces considering what the photoshoot signified for celebrity behavior, women’s rights, sexual liberation, and on and on.²
Of course, it meant fucking nothing. In fact, it was such a non-event that you probably don’t even remember it. But you probably do know that Kardashian is somehow one of the most famous people on the planet. This is despite the fact that she has done nothing, continues to do nothing, and shows no…