Something happens. A crime. Murder. Shootings. There’s victims – a few, lots, too many.
Security reacts, police react, witnesses react, media reacts – society reacts.
Vigils are held, memorials, funerals, gatherings, people mourn.
The media covers all of it. From the second word gets out – to every last memorial and vigil held.
The media talks about the victims, they talk about the perpetrator, they talk about what happened, they talk about how it happened.
What happens next?
Many times you’ll hear about increased security around whatever the original target – or target-like area was.
For example – this past week there was a shooting in Maryland where a lone gunman opened fire killing five people at a newspaper office.
After the media’s initial coverage and the publics reaction, the next news articles you can find speak to how security and police presence is being increased in other newsrooms and newspaper offices.
Why add extra security however if the attack is over? The suspect has been apprehended and is off the streets. People are recovering and adjusting to their lives as they now know them.
People are moving on or thinking about the beginning of moving on.
Why should there be any further cause for concern?
The term ‘copycat’ was first thought to be coined in 1916 after media coverage of Jack the Ripper inspired several other similar attacks.
While the original event may be over, there are people that either have already intended on a future in the fugitive limelight, or are inspired and motivated by it.
Why not have your cake and eat it too they think. Take care of something they don’t like in a manner that was just almost glorified by the media, and at the same time, gain some fame while they’re at it.
It may be a quick 15 seconds of fame, but their name appears in lights. They’re in newspapers, on tv. They’re ‘someone’.
These can be people who have a history of mental illness, loner tendencies, depression, psychosis, or they can be someone that just craves attention. Craves the thrill. They want to be known and they want to be known in a big way.
While we can’t always prepare for the original event or attack, it can be used as a guide to prepare for anything to follow.
With Jack the Ripper it was not a good time to be a prostitute. And this week, it may not be the safest bet to work in a newsroom.
This being said, knowing how the attackers worked, where they targeted, and how they did things – we know that at least this week, we can ramp up security around some high profile news agencies.
This same theory applies to things beyond murder and violent crime sprees.
Suicides can often be done because ‘everybody else was doing it’.
Does this make it right – or better – or even easier? Not at all.
But the thrill of that 15 minutes of fame – even if its from beyond the grave, is attention that some just can’t seem to pass up.
How we do prevent such reoccurrences?
As the media plays a large part in getting word out as well as all the information required to duplicate an event, choosing our words carefully is very important.
By speaking more of the victims and less of the assailant. By omitting all the details that the general public doesn’t need to know.
Media has spent years – decades even – desensitizing the population.
Everyone reads the news. Its followed, liked, tweeted, retweeted, forwarded and copied.
Everyone has a phone which acts as a recording device so now, often the events themselves are posted in real time on facebook and YouTube. Before anyone has a chance to flag it as offensive, or offer a warning, thousands or more people are watching things that they would otherwise not bare witness too.
We’ve become a culture of blood thirsty, news hungry individuals that spend our days thumbing through apps waiting for the next big thing.
When it happens, we drop everything to follow all the live updates and work our thumbs even more by scrolling and scrolling for every last little detail.
If the media doesn’t change and continues to display every last detail and almost glorify every last ‘bad guy’, maybe society should make a move. March on positive messages, and carefully worded news. Details that don’t give it all away. Stories that praise the victims and their lives and the positive that was to come from them.
Find the good news and focus on it.
The news is quick now to post a helpful citizen helping someone else out. People are being glorified for helping the elderly cross the street.
Things that used to be common – things that should still be common. Things that are basic good human upbringings.
I used to think why? Why praise someone for doing what we as an entire race should be doing without a second thought. Why make such a big deal out of something that should just be common courtesy?
However maybe this is the media’s way of sparking the copycat effect. Maybe this is how they make up for the bad? By hoping that just by doing wrong doesn’t mean you get all the attention, you can help someone out and get just as much fame?
This doesn’t make it right – and gaining fame for being a decent human shouldn’t be part of anyones agenda – but then again, gaining fame for causing a traumatic event shouldn’t be either.
Guest Blogger Rayna Davies
Rayna Davies is a graduate and practitioner of Business Management. She has developed an expertise in blogging, covering subjects like travel, world events and security. Having grown up with a father who has developed an expertise in Physical Security and Executive Protection in the RCMP and two major corporations, she has personally observed and experienced many security details. These experiences have included personally meeting HM Queen Elizabeth, Prime Minister Jean Chretien and many celebrities. She presently assists Sentinel Security in Executive Protection workshops and guest blogging and also assists Gloprosec Preventative Services in Intelligence gathering and Business Administration. Her passions include World travel, having visited every continent. She currently is on maternity leave and providing daily close protection for a baby and a toddler and spending time with her husband who is a Police Officer.