the shooting of Kauhajoki, youtube and audiences

Ever been to Kauhajoki or met any of its 15,000 inhabitants? Me neither. But I spent quite some time in Finland and loved the country – although it is hard to remain as anonymous as one can be in London – or Berlin. A good thing? Rather not. The social control I encountered – to varying degrees – in Helsinki, Tampere and Kuopio
a few years back was rather unsettling. Everybody seemed to know each other, less than 5.5 million people in a country as large as crowded Germany – no way to evade into individualism, except in the online sphere perhaps. But that’s escapism as we all live it in these days, nothing special about that either – and who is really listening in these multi-million user online social networks anyway?
So Matti Saari may have been bored, a psychopath or eaten up with hatred as his comment on YouTube suggested but obviously, he was very keen on getting his message – and plan – out to a large community. ‘Guns, computers, sex and beer’ as he listed them are probably the hobbies shared by millions, nothing uncommon – and horror movies as well as heavy metal music are not just most popular in Finland. Whether the shooting was inspired by the 1999 Columbine school massacre is questionable – hatred is probably less fuelled by the desire to copycat but the bloodboths may have in common the shooters’ outsider status, the perceived powerlessness and their mental states.
The symptoms of deeply felt anger, despise and the desire to change things in a most destructive manner rather than the rationale itself seem to be focus of the media coverage. This raises the question why in the age of publicly made and widely accessible –online- announcements consumed by in-/visible audiences and those being tipped off, i.e. the police, the reaction is unchanged: paralysed in learned helplessness, waiting for the fatal moves before the blame game takes its toll. New media – old practices?
The number of concerning messages is rapidly increasing, think of status updates in Twitter or Facebook which provide visible glimpses into an individual’s mind, their mental state and their expression of hate, disgust, anger and all forms of depression. Commenting, warning, advising – or ignoring, how do we respond? How do YOU deal with messages of that kind?

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About Britta Bohlinger, CFE

Founder and Director of RisikoKlár in Iceland. Native German, global perspective - previously in London and Berlin.
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