As of this writing, there have been 37 mass shootings in the USA so far this year (according to the Gun Violence Archive – https://www.gunviolencearchive.org/reports/mass-shooting). That translates into 62 dead three weeks into the new year, all by mass shootings. Almost 3 people a day. And there were also 159 wounded. Those are some crazy numbers…..
…..but they get crazier. The definition of a ‘mass shooting’ requires at least four people be shot and those numbers do not count the shooter who is often killed or wounded by police or by their own hand. Those numbers also do not include shooters who just shoot their spouse, friend, neighbour or co-worker so long as it is three victims or less. It does not count all the accidental shootings which number approximately 500 per year nor does it count the approximately 1200 people killed by police….in the line of duty, of course.
Mass shootings have become a category of social disorder all their own.
Bigotry, prejudice, discrimination and even genocide, of course, have a long history. They are mass social disorders, too. I will not attempt to present numbers but that is a major disfunction that has never been adequately addressed – hell, some societies and cultures still argue whether or not a mass killing qualifies as a genocide.
And we have modern social media disorders now. They have not yet been formally named. There are a lot of them from sexual predators to cons and scams, from lying news sources and propaganda to the simple liar on their dating site. Digital dysfunction writ large…but not in detail. This ugliness can get pretty sophisticated.
I.e. Lately, some You-tube (YT) channels are being dropped or ‘sabotaged’ off the air. The hosts are not saying why (not yet, anyway) but they imply it is a ‘hacker’ of sorts that has messed with the YT algorithm. David Pakman, for instance, has 1.6 million subscribers but is no longer ‘presented’ by YT as a suggestion and one has to go looking for his channel now. He is one of the few speaking out…why? Because he draws a lot of right-wing MAGA heat for his left-ish-but-factual broadcasts. He has been threatened. He suspects he is a target of right wing hacker politics but has no proof. He is being ‘somethinged’ nefariously on social media…somehow….in some way…..
The list of social aberrations, increased violence and hate of ‘others’, designer drugs increasingly lethal and the growing paranoia and anxiety people have of their cities and towns is all frightening enough in itself. Toss in mass migrations, homelessness, van-living, the internet and the increasing lack of respect for our government, institutions and civil servants and one might…maybe…kinda….think that there is a weird kind of revolution or even a war going on.
What I am saying is this: We might, at least, need to put a name to the at-large madness and all the little madnesses that go with it.
So many biological/medical diseases/disorders do not really have some fancy, intellectual Greek or latin-based name like Cancer, Polio or Diabetes. They are instead named by their symptoms. We have ALS, MSA, abdominal aortic aneurysm, acute cholecystitis, benign prostate enlargement, etc. The list is longer than the Greek-latin one. In fact, the World Health Organization now considers it ‘best practice’ to name diseases by their symptoms.
It might be time to apply that kind of thinking (naming) to what is emerging as a kind of mass social dysfunction (MSD) or psycho-socio political alienation (PSPA) or even social order atrophy (SOA). If, in fact, all the smaller social dysfunctions, disorders and psychosis are all somehow related wouldn’t it be helpful to capture it all with the right nomenclature?
I mean: is Armageddon, Apocalypse (both Greek) or Doomsday (old English) the best we can do?