What our searches after shootings say about us
Analyzing search trends after violent crimes provides insight into the intentions of the people searching. There are distinct groups created after a polarizing event happens. Some people search because they want to know more about the event, others search because they want to write about it, and others search because they want to prove their friends wrong. After a violent shooting blamed on video games happens, there is an increase in searches for topics like “gun control”, “video games”, and “shootings”, because people want to gather information for their own day to day arguments. Each of our key-words are searched in varying levels, depending on the group. Evidence suggest that not all of these groups are affected when a violent crime occurs because they don’t have a need for the information the internet offers.
The first group of people, who just want general information are the easiest to identify and examine. Their intentions are the easiest to guess at as well. They want information about violent crimes because they like finding out the information for themselves. After a shooting that happens, that’s blamed on video games they tend to react the least. These people don’t really care about what the shooting was blamed, they just want to know what the “what” is. For the most part, they also just want to be in the know of things that are happening in the United States. This group is created from anything big happening. There is always a hunger for information that people naturally have, regardless of whether that information is accurate. This is how fake news is spread often, because people simply want information of some kind relating to a topic. After a violent crime, this group tends to be the one’s searching for “shooting” the most, as they only have limited information and want more. For example someone unfamiliar with the Parkland incident in 2017, would likely search “Florida shooting”.
The second group, is the group of people who search to write about, or report the topics. Now this group is interesting because they are created for a purpose. The last group didn’t necessarily have a purpose outside of simply acquiring information, regardless of what the information entails. This group searches the most and for the sole purpose of getting the most accurate information. Most people who report on, or write about a subject want to have reliable information so they will obviously do quite a bit of searching. This group is also less interested in the “what” unless they are writing specifically about that. This group is significant because they are the group that takes information for their own benefit. The first group is mostly focused on acquiring some kind of information, while this group acquires accurate information that backs up their own opinion. A good example of this is news outlets. They will acquire accurate information of events, but may tweak what the causes, or effects are of the event to suite the message they are trying to send to their audience. A more right leaning outlet may focus less on ideas like gun control because they don’t even want that topic coming up. Now this group is the group that focuses the most of their searches on terms like “gun control”, “mental health”, and “shooting”. They want to see a correlation between these terms so that they can either include them in their own argument, or leave them out if they don’t agree with their point of view.
The last group of people is the group that searches to bolster their own personal arguments. Now this group isn’t writing for any outlet, or paper, so they don’t tend to be focused too much on accurate information. In fact, they mostly search for terms and ideas that only support their argument, not even acknowledging the other side for the most part. This group tends to search for all the key terms because they want to find a link of any kind between the terms in order to make their personal arguments sounder. This group searches the most out of any group because they are the group that makes up a majority of the searches. Directly after a violent crime happens that’s blamed on violent media, people either take the side of for or against. Are video games to blame for a violent crime, or is that a bunch of crap? People storm the internet searching not only for the answer, but one that satisfies them. It’s honestly extremely logical if we consider how many people want to prove themselves right. Especially if they are in an argument with their friends, or family about a topic. This is why the search trends increase so much after big shootings like the Sandy Hook, Parkland, and Las Vegas shootings.
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