At times, I have been accused of being… umm, robotic? A potent cocktail of realism, sarcasm, and skepticism has led more than one person to believe that I have no feelings or that I lack empathy or that I am bereft of basic human compassion.

This fails to explain why I cry twice every time I watch Schindler’s List. It fails to explain why I tear up every time I listen to the soundtrack from The Pacific. It fails to explain the fog of emotion and reflection that swirls around me at the end of the Mass Effects, Bioshocks, or Spec Ops: The Line. Or why I can’t look someone in the eyes while telling them how important they are to me for fear of breaking down.

I am an emotional person. I just try very hard to control it and even harder not to show it. Thanks, German farmer upbringing!


This is why I write the day after the shootings at the Washington Navy Yard. When I first heard of the attack, I felt… nothing.

No anger. No sadness. No anxiety. No righteous indignation.


And I hate myself for getting to this point. The point where I can go, “Meh. We want guns? This is what we get.” Or “The chickens are going to come home to roost when we ignore the factors that lead to violence.”  The point where the violent deaths of twelve people are less a tragedy and more an argument for the inexorable nature of trade-offs or cause and effect.

I want to be skeptical without becoming cynical. I want to question everything without giving up upon receiving the same answer over and over. Fundamentally, this is what cynicism is and does.

If I’ve fallen off Cynic’s Cliff on the topic of gun violence, is it possible to climb back up? I hope so. Cynicism feels so empty that I can’t help but hate the forces that pushed me off the ledge, but only almost as much as I am disappointed that I failed to put up a bigger fight.

But hey, at least I’m feeling again.


The Sandy Hook Shooting made me think about guns, children, mental illness, the Bill of Rights, violent video games, and an assortment of related topics. I’ve also been thinking about collective guilt and the NFL. Concussions, suicide, premature deaths, and my role as an avid football fan have been weighing heavily on my mind since the death of Junior Seau, the first casualty whom I can remember watching play. I also play video games with violence and explosions. (Yay!)

While these topics might not seem connected, all three have led me to the same place. Our society’s glorification of violence doesn’t cause violence. It’s an effect. We glorify violence because, at heart, we are a violent people in a society that values violence. Continue reading