True Crime has fascinated us for generations. From specials on the evening news to whole sections at bookstores, we’ve always found the stories to be gripping. But today’s generation consumes true crime in unprecedented amounts. There are endless documentaries on all the streaming services, hundreds of true crime podcasts to choose from, and huge online communities devoted to the discussion of real crimes and criminals. What’s driving this obsession with true crime?
Reality is Scary
“Generation Z” grew up in post 9/11 America. School shootings, wars, and terrorism have always existed in their world, and in the Information Age, we are bombarded with these images 24/7. In a way, Gen Z has always been a little more desensitized to gritty reality than previous generations. They accept it as a part of life, something to learn about and understand rather than turn away from.
True crime offers both a respite from the real horrors of the world and a closer look inside them. Where older generations covered their faces with their hands and peeked through their fingers at the frightening images, Gen Z stares full on. They do it for scares sometimes, but also to get a better understanding of why this person did this horrible thing. For them, the criminal is more than the sum of their crimes; they are a human being with a past full of clues that provide insight into their mental state.
They Detest Labels
In the past, it was easy to look at a murderer and write them off as an evil monster. That’s not the new generation’s style. They can put the horrific act aside long enough to look at the human behind it. They want to understand why that person did what they did. They want to identify the factors that created an environment that produced a killer. Was there abuse? Did the person come from a broken home? Were they repressed or bullied to the point of madness? By understanding what made someone commit a crime, they hope to prevent others from going down the same path.
This generation is highly empathetic toward the disenfranchised. Look at the flawed anti-heroes they grew up with, and the moral questions they provoke. They have sympathy for Walter White of Breaking Bad, being less interested in his meth production than in his motivation for doing it. They understand that sometimes good people do bad things for good reasons, so Gen Z sees the world in shades of moral grayness rather than in black and white, good and evil.
They’re Smart and Informed
Today’s generation has more information at their fingertips than anyone else in the history of the world. They can research the most obscure facets of any topic they wish, including true crime. Many of them enjoy being “armchair detectives”, poring over message boards and documents, hoping to find a piece of evidence or some new insight the authorities may have missed. Then they take their findings and discuss them with others in their true crime communities. It’s a brainy exercise that spawned many “Catch a Killer” games.
Should We Worry?
Will all this exposure to terrible acts cause Generation Z to become criminals themselves? No. There is no evidence of that. The fascination with true crime is mostly harmless. However, any infatuation has the potential to get out of control. If you do notice that someone you care about is so obsessed with true crime that it interferes with their daily life, or if they seem depressed, speak to them with an open mind about your concern.
Call Advanced Psychiatry DFW When You Need Help
At Advanced Psychiatry DFW, we specialize in treating anxiety disorders, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which can occur after prolonged exposure to violent images. We also treat depression, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and many others. If you or someone you love needs help, call us right away so we can bring you in for an initial evaluation.