Thirty years ago, there was no social media. No Instagram. No Twitter. No Snapchat. There were no selfies. No Status updates. No ability to hide behind a screen and say unpopular things. There was no texting. No “liking”. And no retweeting. There was letter writing, phone calls, and face-to-face interaction. There was not social media, there was just “being social”.
Thirty years ago, there were tragedies. An example? Oakland Elementary School. September 26, 1988. A 19-year-old entered the cafeteria and killed two children and injured eight others.
This past week, there was a tragedy. February 14, 2018 - 19-year-old in Parkland Florida entered his former high school and killed 17 people and injuring many more.
But what is the difference here? Besides the obvious number of fatalities. Do you really want to know the difference? In the Oakland Elementary School shooting the young man essentially had no friends. He was a societal outcast. He was made fun of. He was reclusive. Because he was reclusive the signs were only able to be seen by a few people. However, the shooting in Florida was much different. For two years prior to the shooting, the young man was posting on social media photos of him with guns. He was posting his desire to kill people. He actually made a comment on YouTube that he was going to become a “professional school shooter”. His signs were very clear. Anyone could have seen them. So why did we miss it?
We live in a society of anti-social, social media addicts. We scroll through our newsfeeds not really seeing what we are looking at. We, instead, are too absorbed with how many people liked our status update or the selfie we posted from two months ago (you know, when we didn’t have that acne outbreak that we are dealing with now). We do not care that our “friend” has posted that the world hates them and wants them to die. Instead we like their status and say “hang in there” then quickly forget them. Someone posted on our profile picture that we are beautiful. We feel like we have a purpose now. We do not seem to mind that our “friend” shared that his teacher failed him for “no reason” and deserves to drop dead. Instead we scroll past because we want to see how many people liked that video we shared. We do not care about others. We only care about our own gratification. We see the signs of depression. We see the signs before the action. But we don’t really SEE the signs. We completely miss them because we are too self-focused.
Thirty years ago, society was wondering what they could have done to prevent such a horrible tragedy where two children lost their lives. “Two lives were cut short! We could not see the signs because he closed himself off from society. If we had only known! If he had only told someone!”
Now, we have killers sharing that they are going to commit these tragedies but instead of acknowledging that we were too selfish to notice, we blame the guns. We blame the laws. We blame someone else. We don’t blame the shooter and we definitely do not blame ourselves for missing it. I’m just throwing things out there, but maybe – JUST MAYBE – if we got ourselves out of the way, we may be able to see the signs and get those people help before the crimes are committed.
We need to stop focusing so much on our own selfish desires, and go back to being others-focused. We need to start paying attention to what others are sharing. No, we will not see every sign. There are plenty of people who are not going to share these things. But when we see things like this, we MUST report it. We cannot assume they are joking. We cannot assume they are just trying to get attention. We cannot assume they are just drama kings/queens. Sometimes things said “in jest” are true thoughts. Sometimes those people who are just looking for attention will act on those things in order to get the attention. Sometimes those “drama queens” snap… We cannot assume that they are not going to act. We MUST error on the side of caution and try to get them the help they need.
BE KIND!BE SMART!