Symbolically Speaking

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Gun Violence: When Humans Become Mere Avatars

A Facebook friend shared a map and article about gun violence in America. She lamented that she's "always dreamed of living abroad and never has that desire been greater than now".

Gun map 500

I can sympathize with her, but not because of America's gun violence, but rather, the attack on free speech by the PC left... (But that's another post).

Anyway, is it really the guns? 98% of the people around me have guns, and there's rarely any gun violence (and very low violent crime). That's because criminals know most citizens are packing heat.

What's changed over the years, in my opinion, is the de-humanizing of people via video games, movies and the internet. People become mere avatars--non-living symbols. Hell, look at how many people lurch around with their noses in devices--while walking, driving, eating at restaurants, etc. 

People rarely talk to one another anymore. They don't look in another's eye. Online, character assassination, stalking and bullying is rampant--not only because cowards hide behind anonymyity, but also because targets become mere avatars--symbols of what the tormentor doesn't like (not to mention, reactions against their own insecurities, fears and projections). 

What are your thoughts, dear readers? (By the way, I didn't post this to argue politics or gun control, but rather, discuss the theory that an increase in violence and bullying may be tied to the objectification of fellow humans--largely as a result of dwelling in a cyberworld rather than the "real" world). 

Note: I do believe it needs to be more difficult to obtain guns, that gun shows (and automatic weapons) should be outlawed and that those with psychiatric histories prevented from buying firearms.

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Janet Boyer is the author of Back in Time Tarot and Tarot in Reverse, as well as the co-creator (with her husband, artist Ron Boyer) of the Snowland Deck and Coffee Tarot. With her sixteen-year-old son, she created the Boyer Charming Oracle. Currently, Janet is working on her third and fourth traditionally-published Tarot books--Naked Tarot (Dodona Books, 2015) and 365 Tarot: Daily Meditations (Dodona Books, 2015). As a respected, trusted Amazon Hall of Fame/Vine Reviewer, she's penned over 1,200 published reviews that have also been featured in print magazines and other online outlets. In addition to being a Tarot teacher, author, deck creator and professional reader, she is also a frequent radio guest (and former host), essayist, short story writer and homeschooling Mom. Her hobbies include cultivating flowers, tending biota, watching retro TV on DVDs (60s + 70s), trying new recipes (she's an award-winning cook), serving as a Patron of the Arts, photography and reading (especially mysteries/suspense). Visit Janet online at


  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor Thursday, 12 June 2014

    I think you are on to something, Janet - but there must be another factor involved which we have not identified, since video games and smart phones are used by people in the non-violent countries also.

  • Janet Boyer
    Janet Boyer Thursday, 12 June 2014

    Good point, Ted. I wonder, though, if other countries are as wired as the U.S.--including availability of wireless technology, access to electronic devices (affordability), glorification of games/gadgets via advertising, etc.

  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis Saturday, 31 January 2015

    Good article! I agree that dehumanization has a lot to do with violence. Violence in the media, whether in movies or video games, is often depicted in dehumanizing ways. I also think dehumanization and violence have gone hand-in-hand throughout history. Dehumanization of women, for example, has justified violence against them. And, as someone who rides in a wheelchair, I've noticed how often people dehumanize me because of the wheelchair. I am constantly injured by people who write me off, as if I were a bag of groceries set in the wheelchair. Often, these are actually very nice people who injure me, but they are just conditioned by society's prejudice against people with disabilities. Heck, I probably would've done the same thing as them before I became disabled and learned better. We all have to be on the lookout for various ways we dehumanize each other, whether it's video games or elsewise, so I like your article. Rock on!

  • Janet Boyer
    Janet Boyer Saturday, 31 January 2015

    Oh, wow, Francesca...I never thought of dehumanization connected to those in wheelchairs. What you say makes sense. You have to wonder if, at the core of dehumanization, it's because the viewer wants to "block out" whatever message or condition is represented by the "object" (person). That is, an empowered woman, the human body subjected to disease/accidents, uncomfortable truths spoken aloud, the existence of those who seem/look "different", etc. :(

  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis Saturday, 31 January 2015

    Hiya, Janet, I agree that wanting to be in denial about a condition or message is part of what makes us dehumanize others. I also think greed plays just as big a role. As soon as we view somebody as less than human, it's supposedly okay to hurt their feeling and ignore their rights.

    My book "Share My Insanity: It Improves Everything" ( has an essay the subtitle of which is "Connectivity, Service, Tribe, Arrogance, Humans with Names, and Humans as Cyphers." LOL, quite a long subtitle, but i had fun adding humor to the book. Anyway, Share My Insanity is relevant to this discussion, because the book discusses how dehumanization destroys tribe. Mind you, that's only one of many themes in the text, because I was weaving a lot of themes together.

    This is a fun little chat with you, thank you.

  • Janet Boyer
    Janet Boyer Saturday, 31 January 2015

    I had no idea you were a published author! I'm looking at your books on Amazon now. I've added Share My Insanity to my AMZN WishList. WOW. Such great stuff. I chuckled at Peter Coyote saying "radical and subversive agenda". That could be my soul's tagline! LOL ;)

  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis Saturday, 31 January 2015

    OMGoddess, girlfriend, I have been around forever. And have been a very busy bunny. I've functioned full-time as a Pagan minister for decades, so was able to accomplish a great deal:

    I laid a lot of groundwork for the Pagan movement. My oral tradition teachings started in the 80s and sporadically before that. Pieces of that material are now considered "traditional" Paganism, even though not everybody knows I wrote it.

    As to books, I've been blessed with loyal readers all over the world for decades now.

    In the early 90s, this busy bunny started developing a content-rich Pagan website, when WitchVox was just beginning to do the same, though of course WitchVox became megalithic, which was quite a feat on their part. A small group of us back then formed the Pagans Webmasters Guild, Fritz (WitchVox founder) among us, and we were a significant part of early online Paganism.

    I've devoted myself to ministry. Which means I'm too busy working to sit on committees that make decisions about who gets in Pagan history books, LOL. But I get in them occasionally; a good many people have told me they know the real story, for which I am grateful.

    Not that I do the work for the credit, but sometimes it stings when, for example, some guy gets credit for my work because I'm a woman—I am only human, so it hurts sometimes. But it doesn't sting for long, I love my work and I love my community. I have so many wonderful fellow seekers. And as I get older, I'm more willing to tell people what I've accomplished instead of thinking humility means not letting anybody know what I've done.

    There you go, probably more info than you ever wanted. :-) I guess I just needed to say all that today. :-)

  • Janet Boyer
    Janet Boyer Saturday, 31 January 2015

    No, I'm glad you shared! I had no idea. I'm not sure I'm a Pagan (I think I am). I was trained as a Pentecostal minister (majored in theology with double minors in English and Psych), and was actually an ordained, practicing pastor. So I'm much more versed on Christian history and tradition than Pagan. But, to be honest, the way I see some Pagans wrangling about meaning and the "correct" way to practice spirituality and so on--let's just say I tune out and steer clear. :)

    I like to think that even if we don't get credit for our work or originality--and if the "victors" somehow snuff out our contributions (since they write history)--that the Akashic Records has a copy for all to see (someday).

  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis Saturday, 31 January 2015

    I'm happy to meet someone as well trained as you. I trained full-time for a ministry, so I really appreciate it in you.

    As to the "correct" way to do things, LOL, I've been bucking that from the beginning. It is funny that I have even heard about some of my students telling other of my students that they're not practicing my teachings correctly, and I think, "Oh my God, can you at least wait till I'm dead before you start talking about the one true way to execute my teachings." A big piece of my work is to help each person find their own unique way.

    Here here to the akashic records! I believe something similar: my gods know what I have done!

  • Janet Boyer
    Janet Boyer Saturday, 31 January 2015

    HAHAHA! I hear ya! When I teach Tarot (in person or through my books) I always tell them there IS no "right way" to learn the cards. :D Yep, that's what hubby and I say: The Angels and Helpers know, by God! ;) I'm so glad to have found you and look forward to reading your work!

  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis Saturday, 31 January 2015

    Ha ha Ha ha ha! Though I teach traditional Tarot interpretations, I also want my students to trust their own unique interpretations of the cards. So when one of my Tarot students pulls a card during class and asks, "I think this means (fill in the blank). Could it mean that?", I often have answered, "Could it?" It kind of became a running joke over the years. But one student got frustrated with that answer one day, and said, "God, we might as well just be reading the bedspread!" We were all sitting next to a bedspread. So I said, "great idea!" I threw some paper clips onto the bedspread, and asked the class to read the paper clips and bedspread. I like to think they learned a lot about divination that day. I hope so, anyway.

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