Because of the inescapable reach of media, mass killings affect virtually everyone. While the victims and the ones who loved them suffer terribly, the rest of us may feel a combination of many emotions: grief (through empathy), fear, disbelief, curiosity, fascination, and even a thrill at seeing the commotion caused by what happened. Each horrific event puts us on a new emotional binge.
This collective catharsis, Daniel Altman points out, satisfies "some visceral need for morbid stimulation," which can even be seen as beneficial to society. And yet, our need for this catharsis, Altman argues counterintuitively, is what prevents us from insuring that such horrific acts will never happen again.