I’ve usually found the CNN Web site a good source for catching up on daily news, but lately I’ve been disappointed with the sensationalistic tone it often employs. One example of this trend was a “Commentary” article written this week by James Alan Fox, a professor at Northeastern University in Boston, regarding the recent mass shootings in Alabama and Germany.
To be fair, the article does include some insightful commentary about the dynamics behind such mass killings, but that insight was undercut by the title given to the piece: “Loners, losers — and killers.” As I wrote a few years ago after the Virginia Tech murders, using the term “loner” as a key descriptor of the perpetrators of such atrocities is unfair to the vast majority of self-proclaimed loners who are not violent. Plus, it makes no distinction between those who choose solitude, and those who “lack emotional support from friends or family,” as the article describes them.
However, I was glad to see that many of the commenters on the article took issue with the use of the word “loner,” and offered their own experiences as well-adjusted and healthy “loners” as a challenge to this type of characterization. It made me hopeful that the message may eventually be heard by the mainstream media and society at large, and that one day the term “loner” will not be carelessly applied, or used to stigmatize a behavior that is second nature to so many.