When we witness the rise in copycat murders, actual and attempted and even hoaxes, in the wake of the Columbine massacre, we look at the upcoming generation, wring our hands and wonder why. Gee, these kids today, we tell ourselves.
The reasons kids shoot up classrooms should be painfully obvious. They’re the same reasons for which they’re committing suicide, or performing dangerous stunts on YouTube, or making sex videos. It’s not narcissism, or nihilism, and it’s certainly not obliviousness. If anything, the kids are only too aware.
Our culture bombards us with media images telling us that “if you’re not somebody, you’re nobody.” Then it shows us the extremely limited range of things that make one somebody: you have to be able to hit a three-point shot, or look pretty while warbling an automatically pitch-corrected tune. Our kids are shown what our society has decided to value, and it is not them.
We’re not a meritocracy, we’re a caste system. And the kids know it. The world is burning out, being used up, and they will not get their chance. When our sons and daughters retreat into their phones, they’re trying to just stay distracted until the inevitable end.
Columbines happen because of hopelessness, desperation, and a society whose priorities are so absolutely out of whack that youth feel a need to go out with a bang — since, they’re convinced, go out we must.