A sign of the times . . . another school shooting

You pay attention to news so you know that yet another school shooting happened – this one at Santa Fe High School in Texas on Friday.  The alleged shooter is a student at the high school.  Eight students and two teachers were needlessly and tragically killed by the troubled 17-year old.  So what is the profile of these young people who destroy their lives, and the lives of the families of the victims, with these senseless murders?

A glaring recurring factor with school shootings are the struggles of the young people who perpetrate these heinous acts.  And how do we know this?  To a large degree, the social media archives of the young-people-gone-bad is a pronounced indicator of their struggles to “fit in” with their peers and society in general.  The latest incident involving the Santa Fe High student is a case in point.  The young man wore a trench coat to school every day – even in the 90+ degree heat of Texas.  He was also picked on by coaches at the school.  An unidentified student at Santa Fe High told a Daily Wire reporter that “he’s been picked on by coaches before for smelling bad and stuff like that and he doesn’t really talk to very many people.”

Others who know the alleged shooter described him as a kind and sweet young man. Growing up is hard enough, but here in the 21st Century, being an outcast – especially with considerations to social media acceptance – can be devastating for young people who sometimes struggle to establish their social identities. The alleged shooter is definitely eccentric.  What do you think his peers wrote about him on social media before the shooting?  Rest assured that comments about the shooter were none too kind on social media.

Social media is analogous to fire.  That is, it is a useful tool unless it is improperly or indiscriminately – read “unwisely” – applied.  Have you heard about the latest evolution in the English language?  The latest term to evolve pertaining to social media use is “Incels.”  What, you ask, is an Incel.  The definition which follows is a glaring example of how social media is abused.  It actually demonstrates how technology, with all its inherent benefits, is actually contributing to a less civil, more coarse society in general.

Incels – which stands for “involuntary celibates” – are the oddball community of frustrated men who go online to complain about how they cannot find women to have sex with them.  Really?  Yes, really, and this particular online “movement” has turned deadly.  For example, Alek Minassian, 25, of Toronto, was charged with killing 10 people and injuring 15, most of whom were women, back in April.  Minassian posted on Facebook the following message before he jumped a sidewalk with a rented van in Toronto and killed or injured the 25 mostly women:  “The Incel Rebellion has already begun. We will overthrow [all those men and women] who contribute to our condition.”

Another Incel posted the following message on Facebook:  “I’m the perfect guy, and yet you throw yourselves at these obnoxious men instead of me.”  This is the TMI Syndrome, too much information.  I don’t need to know about the struggles of Incels.  We all have our struggles.  Maybe the Incels would be better served to seek professional psychological counseling.  Social media should be civil and considerate.  A public pronouncement of the perceived plight of Incels would not have occurred 20 years ago.  Ahh, but they call that progress.  Sometimes what passes for progress is actually far from it. Social media, in far too many incidents, is actually a regression to a more coarse, less civil approach of expressing oneself.

-Mark Pope