Friday, 16 February 2018

It's Not Just Guns

A few thoughts following the latest school shooting in Florida.

The, “self esteem generation” has the lowest self esteem of all. That is because they were raised with unreasonably high expectations. They were told they could achieve anything they wanted to, but were rewarded for just the opposite: even losers got “participation trophies.” This did two things: it devalued real accomplishment, and it gave kids the idea that they didn’t have to work hard to be rewarded. It also, I suspect, actually diminished, in a sense, true self-esteem, as those who received these participation trophies would come to realize that they did not, in fact, really earn or deserve one. Young people who were told they were, “special” found out that in the real world they were not. As Simon Sinek says (post below), it wasn’t necessarily their fault. It was their parents’ generation who raised them this way and ingrained these attitudes into them.

So take these disillusioned young people and put them in front of a computer, where their community is social media, where they and others can express their rage and frustration with impunity and without consequence, except receiving similar rage from others also online. Let that rage fester and increase, with no immediate outlet or restraining mechanism, such as face to face communication or community social restraint, and in certain cases it builds until it explodes.

Guns have been around for hundreds of years, but this spike in mass shootings, for the most part, has occurred, as I see it, with the advent and rise of social media use in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

Anyway, those are some of my thoughts. I’m not sure I can explain it any better than that, but that is the connection I see.

Take Care


Warren said...

If I correctly understand your logic, you believe that social media usage in the US is orders of magnitude greater than in any other country on this planet. Also, am I accurate in surmising that you believe limiting access to smartphones would do more to reduce mass shootings than limiting access to guns?

John K said...

Ha! No, I think it is a combination of a number of factors, each playing some part. Not to oversimplify, among them I believe is a toxic mix of young disillusioned people raised on unrealistic self-esteem, the tendency for anger and rage to be heightened over social media, including internet bullying, and the ready availability of guns. The latter is an obvious factor, but remember I posted it's not JUST guns. I think there is a growing tendency in certain quarters, to respond to anger by lashing out, either violently or via social media rants, and I think these are two sides of the same coin. The impersonality of social media makes it easier to do so without consequence. Not a complete answer, and I suppose an entire book could be written on the subject, but that's all I can think of right now.
I wonder if your reference to smartphones was in regard to my previous post. I touched on it there, but I think the greatest danger in smartphones for young people, especially boys, is the ready access to pornography. Porn is life- and relationship-destroying.

John K said...

In short, I think there may not be, in some cases, a great leap from the rage as expressed online against an impersonal screen and grabbing a handy gun and taking that anger out on real people.

Warren said...

I agree that it is a combination of factors and that smartphones bring unique challenges (for our generation as well as for the i generation). The gun culture in the US, however, sets them apart from every other society and country on earth. It's hard to understand and history doubtlessly plays a huge role, but the problem of mass shootings in the US cannot be compared with Canada. And, although the number killed during each shooting in the US has increased in the last couple of decades (no doubt due in large part to the type of weapons used), the phenomenon isn't new. And the shooters aren't only young males. I would enjoy your analyses more if you didn't frequently generalize and give the impression that Canada and the US are essentially the same. The five years I lived in the US disabused me of that notion. And I can assure you that I'm very happy to stay in Canada.