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Real life versus virtual reality

Thoughts from Behind the Pressline

No matter which way the jury rules, many will be outraged at the outcome, finding the entire trial a charade. They’ll claim to have listened to and read many of the basic facts presented to the jury and can’t understand how the verdict was reached. We can only hope that true justice is done and that more violence doesn’t follow this situation.

But let’s assume that George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin were given an opportunity to go back in time. They both wake up on the fateful day knowing what they know about the events of that evening and the ultimate conclusion. What would they change about their actions? Would they even be in the same place to take the same actions?

We’ll never really know. We get one chance to get it right and while the little errors can be overcome, there simply is no changing a life-changing event. But in the virtual world, where we can kill as entertainment, watch gory abuses of innocent people or make hurtful statements about real people online under the veil of anonymity, we become desensitized to the underlying effects. Sooner or later, that desensitizing will affect real-life attitudes and actions.

While neither George Zimmerman nor Trayvon Martin will get an opportunity to rethink their attitudes going into that night, we must take heed and learn from it and other current events. We must look at how we think about and treat one another from many different perspectives. We must recognize the violence we exposed our children to and recognize those who lack the ability to differentiate right from wrong. We need to look at the level of oversight given to violent video games as well as the television shows and movies marketed as entertainment that we allow into our homes. We must better understand the predators lurking on social media sites looking for innocent victims. We need to think before we send hurtful things we contribute to and participate in while out in cyberspace under the disguise of an anonymous user names.

There should be no difference between our actions in real life and in virtual life. In the end, George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin were just two unfortunate individuals whose paths crossed and they, as well as their families, became victims of a society that needs to correct its path.

Dan Alexander is associate publisher of New Market Press and publisher and CEO of Denton Publications. He may be reached at dan@newmarketpressvt.com or dan@denpubs.com.

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