Last week, I stopped watching after the Boston Bruins hoisted the Stanley Cup and skated it around the arena, and so I was blissfully unaware of the carnage taking place that night in downtown Vancouver.
The next day, I saw graphic images by photojournalists of rioters lighting police cars, riot police, and bystanders reveling in the madness of it all.
The thrill today seems to be in being there, witnessing intense, often dangerous, and sometime violent events and being the first to post the proof on facebook, twitter or YouTube.
The “street cred” this earns young people must be huge, or perhaps it is just the thrill of such intensity, moments where you are in the midst of history. The news if full of gruesome examples.
Bystanders in Vancouver pose in front of burning vehicles, one particularly graphic image even shows a young couple in between two large groups of riot police, seemingly oblivious of the chaos around them, sprawled on the pavement making out, the woman’s skirt baring her underwear.
Young high schoolers video themselves in a real-life “fight club,” beating one another in spontaneous fights for no real reason but the challenge and then post their fights on YouTube.
I often wonder what pulls us to this.
Is it the thrill of being there? Is it a sign of the greater degradation of our society?
Are we simply mimicking the movies we watch, becoming comfortable in seemingly post-apocolyptic situations we feel we’ve seen so many times on screen they are real?
Or maybe some of the concepts of the movie Fight Club are manifesting themselves.
In the film, the lead, played by Edward Norton, has become numbed by the dullness of life in modern society and so forms a split personality to allow himself to break out and challenge himself, venting the apparent natural aggressiveness men feel in underground fight clubs.
Perhaps there is something within our species, evolved for survival, that craves a challenge, a thrill we no longer get from our comfortable society. Or maybe we’ve simply lost empathy for our fellow humans.
On the CBC radio, as the lunchtime call-in program discussed the riots, one caller mentioned the issue might be a lack of purpose and value in young men, perhaps stemming from a missing spiritual connection or meaning.
Whatever it is, I hope we figure it out and deal with it, or the next time the Stanley Cup finals come to Vancouver the city will have to go into lockdown and it will resemble a police state, and we all lose, not just the Canucks.