Editorial - When technology turns

Dianne St. Jean

Here we go again – another tragedy and senseless loss of life. Of course I’m referring to those who died or were injured by some crazed madman in Toronto.

The cut is as deep as the loss of those recently killed and injured in the bus crash in Saskatchewan, yet this latest one appears to have something more sinister about it.

There was obviously some error on the part of the truck driver that hit the Humboldt team’s bus. Call it neglect or something along those lines, yet I seriously doubt, despite the tragic stupidity, that that particular driver actually intended to kill people that day.

Contrast that with the recent event in Toronto, when Alek Minassian, now charged with ten counts of first-degree murder and over a dozen counts of attempted murder, deliberately rented a van with the intention to do just that – kill and inflict pain – apparently in some form of twisted, self-perceived revenge.

There have always been psychotic and twisted personalities walking the globe. So why is this now different?

The answer my friend, is blowing in the wind, or should we say - the air. I’m referring to modern technology that uses (excuse the simplicity of terms) ‘air’ or wireless technology to connect people around the world at the push of a computer key or click of a mouse.

Before the days of social media and computer connections those suffering from some type of psychosis were, for the most part, isolated.

The old adage that there is strength in numbers is true. What individuals may not have the courage to carry out on their own, good or bad, they are more likely to do when spurred on by others.

From a psychological angle, this is especially so among what we call “fringe groups”. Fringe groups are those who are on the outside of mainstream culture and often considered to be radical. Because of that, their camaraderie is all the stronger.

Before the days of personal computers, not having that connection with others like themselves meant they did not have a platform that fed their frenzy; nor could they swiftly acquire fame, if even in a sick way, by having their name and image instantly projected on televisions, computers, tablets or cell phones across the globe, let alone across the street.

It appears, then, for all the conveniences that modern technology has given humanity, it has also become one of the greatest tools that can be used against us.

In life there is always an exchange. Unfortunately, it is not always a fair one. For the privilege of having the option to easily connect with others or promote the image we want to portray to others (whether accurate or not), means that we also surrender levels of privacy and personal protection; hence the recent revelations and inquiries into the mechanics of Facebook.

Yes, those who manage and control these operations should be accountable for what they do with our information, but as individuals we also need to recognize that it is our own urge to push our face and voice out there that is causing us to pay a price that perhaps we can’t afford.