Day trading, the ever-changing process which capitalizes on minute-to-minute fluctuations in stock prices to make a profit, was in the center of a firestorm last week. In the wake of a mass shooting in Atlanta, a gaggle of politicians, pundits and cultural observers took to the airwaves to place blame for the heinous crime, which claimed the innocent lives of two children, their mother and nine people working in their offices.
Thanks to high-speed Internet connections, real-time stock quotes and advanced software, an increasing number of Americans are hopping online to take part in the day-trading frenzy. What motivates them? Adrenaline rush? Cubicle boredom? A few quick bucks? One must assume it’s the money. And there’s nothing wrong with a little greed to build up the kids’ college fund or your retirement portfolio, but with any investing, you have to know the risks and be able to deal with the consequences of a volatile market.
Apparently, Mark Barton, the Atlanta shooter, couldn’t handle the risks. Reports say he lost $100,000 in a month of day trading. A note he left behind blamed the people he shot for trying to destroy him.
A number of commentators have sought to place the blame for the crime, the worst single mass murder in Atlanta’s history, on the Internet. In an alarming trend, technology is being used as a multi-purpose scapegoat for our societal ills. Have a problem? Must be some Web sites fault.
In fact, Barton alone was responsible for his actions. We can’t blame the Internet. We can’t blame day trading. It was one greedy, unstable man who bludgeoned his children and wife, shot nine people dead and wounded 13 others.
After every tragedy we suffer through as a nation, whether it’s a school massacre in Colorado or office shooting in Atlanta, we search for answers. What can we do to avoid future tragedies?
The world is a dangerous place. It’s not fair either. We all must make decisions and be willing to live with the outcome without a gigantic safety net. The only way to build a more civil society is one person, one family, one community at a time. We can’t legislate, regulate or delegate the responsibility each one of us has to friends, neighbors, colleagues and even strangers.
And maybe that is the answer: How do we define our relationships with others? Do you remember the Golden Rule?