I have been a fan of Vivek Murthy ever since that fake physician Rand Paul put his first nomination to be Surgeon General on hold back in 2014. Paul was doing nothing other than pimping for Gun-nut Nation which opposed Murthy’s nomination because the incoming SG had the audacity to raise the possibility that 100,000+ fatalities and serious injuries from guns represented a public health threat.

              I therefore looked with great anticipation at the advisory just issued by Murthy’s office on the health effects of social media access by children and adolescents, since so much social media content promotes the presence and use of guns.

              It also should be understood that access to guns which are used to commit violence (as opposed to guns used for hunting or sport) begins to show up when boys are in their teens, and by the time boys (and a few girls) reach the age of 20, more than 2,500 of these young persons have killed someone else with a gun.

              Unfortunately, the Surgeon General’s advisory on social media stays only within the boundaries of mental health, with the issue of social media and violent behavior left entirely undiscussed – you can download the report from my website right here. The report defines social media as follows: “internet-based channels that allow users to opportunistically interact and selectively self-present, either in real-time or asynchronously, with both broad and narrow audiences who derive value from user-generated content and the perception of interaction with others.” [Pg. 21]

              The report then goes on to say: “For the purposes of this product, we did not include studies specific to online gaming or e-sports.” [Pg. 21]

              But online gaming is where the violence, the violent behavior and the use of guns occurs. And most of the shooting games can be played with multiple players at the same time. That’s not interacting with others?

              The most popular shooting game right now is something called Free Fire, an app which can accommodate as many as 52 players at the same time. There are 15 different game modes, with such names as Team Deathmatch and Clash Squad. The most popular mode has up to 52 players landing on an island without weapon which they must then arm themselves by stealing or scavenging guns.

              How does a player win this game?  By killing all the other players and being the last man standing.

              The winner is then given a ranking, kind of like the way that people who play online chess can also achieve rankings which can be used to register for online chess tournaments, except in chess games, nobody’s getting killed.

              In 2021, it is estimated that revenues for Free Fire in the U.S. alone topped more than $100 million. This figure represents about 15% of the game revenues worldwide, with the game being played each day more than 150 million times worldwide.

              But here’s the difference between shooting games like Free Fire being played in the U.S. as opposed to being played anywhere else.

              Ready? The United States is the only country in the entire world where the kinds of guns which are used in video shootouts can also be purchased and used in real time.

              Notice in the picture above the young lady in black holding an assault rifle with a hi-cap mag? In most states, that young lady at the age of 18 can walk into a gun shop and buy that gun.

              Notice the girl slightly above and to the right of the girl with the AR? In her right hand she’s holding a Glock. Or maybe it’s a Sig. Either way, this game which was not considered relevant enough to be included in the SG’s advisory on social media, is giving gun companies like Glock and Sig one helluva free advertising ride.

              Back in 2015, the American Psychological Association (APA) adopted a resolution which called for more research on the connection between violence and violent video games. You can download and read the report right here. The resolution was amended slightly in 2018, but the conclusion remained the same: “APA endorses the development and implementation of rigorously tested interventions that educate children, youth and families about the effects of violent video game use.”

              Given the recent surge in gun violence, much of it committed by young men who are just above adolescent age, I simply don’t understand how the Surgeon General could issue an advisory on the effects of social media and ignore the issue of how social media and gun violence are wrapped around each other in a way which promotes both.

              Unless, of course, Dr. Murthy and his colleagues believe that a 16-year-old walking down the street with a Glock in his pocket doesn’t represent a threat to public health.

              But of course, they do.