Yesterday I was eating lunch with my boss and another coworker. My boss was going on and on about the recent mass shootings and how this world is a terrible sick place. She said something to the effect of, "You can't even go out and enjoy yourself or shop for groceries without being at risk. Somebody could walk through our front door right now and just start killing us all."
This, obviously, was bullshit. People who watch too much of the news are always miserable and afraid. The 24 hour news cycle is a spectacle. It's designed to thrill you and keep you on the edge of your seat. Now she was a member of this spectacle. Talking about this for what reason? I can't say for sure, but my instincts tell me that misery loves company.
She asked my coworker the silliest question I've heard in a long time, "Aren't these mass shootings just horrible?"
I wouldn't consider this question so silly if it were purely rhetorical, because obviously they are horrible. But I was aware that she wanted an answer. She asked it several more times to my coworker. Each time he answered because she is the kind of a person to demand one.
Was it a form of hypnosis that she didn't even know she was doing? Is mass media really such a powerful cancer? If so, how can we prevent this psychic assault? Escaping to a cabin in the woods is a fun fantasy, but we all have people we love and care about, who either depend on us or one day will. They will probably refuse to follow you into that cabin. Most people can't stomach giving up their loved ones for their own safety, so you won't actually go either.
I stayed silent for the entire conversation until my boss turned to me and asked, "What about you, Mr. Quiet? Aren't these mass shootings just the worst? Isn't this world an awful place?"
It was time for my hypnotic session.
I said that mass shootings were a very interesting problem, and I wasn't sure about how to solve it. At the same time, life is better than it has ever been before, and this is the least violent period in human history.
She seemed displeased with my response.
The world is a beautiful place; full of interesting people who will sometimes try kill you. There is no need to be afraid.