Most of you may know that yesterday in Pittsburgh, PA, a young man stabbed 20 people in the school he was at, some of them seriously. Every time I hear a story like this, it makes me sad. What could possibly be so bad in this young persons life that he felt that he had to resort to this? It has since come out that after he was arrested, he made a comment along the lines of "I want to die". Now whether this was a motive for doing this or he realized in a moment of clarity just how awful what he had done was is uncertain as he's completely clammed up at the moment. But why would someone who is only 16 do this, or want to die?
Last night while looking to see if there was any new information on this story I read an article on Yahoo. The article told the basic facts of what had happened, nothing out of the ordinary. What horrified me was the comments section. Since when is a time of tragedy like this the time to be smug, smart alecky (is that a word?), racist and just plain mean? This isn't the first time that I've seen this kind of bad behavior on Yahoo. But last night something just set me off, maybe because this incident was a bit too close to home for me--and I flipped out in a post I made on Yahoo. After I posted, I thought "oh great, I'm probably going to get all kinds of flame posts back". You can imagine how surprised I was this morning when I got my e-mail updates and not only had I got quite a few "thumbs up" on my post, but also only one comment and it wasn't a flame at all, but someone who was concerned about this young mans mental state. Hmmmmm........perhaps I'm not alone in my anger at this latest trend of nastiness.
With all the things going on in the world, the phrase "we are going to hell in a hand basket" comes up frequently. Sorry folks, I think we are already there! We live with so many people who feel overly entitled, who don't appreciate what they have, who suffer from overwhelming jealousy and pettiness--all things for which I just don't relate in any way shape or form. No one wants to take responsibility for their behavior anymore and act like grown up adults. It's all "me, me, me"--we've lost our common sense and our ability to show compassion.
So what do we blame this on? I think our celebrity obsessed culture (particularly in the US) is partially to blame. Too many people who suffer from all the things I previously mentioned can't distinguish the fact that the lifestyle that many celebrities live IS NOT NORMAL! Then there is the media, reality television, video games--there are so many outside sources influencing our decision making processes, it isn't funny. Unfortunately, it has contributed to a phenomenon I call "mean girls syndrome"--which is becoming all too prevalent. It has to stop. NOW.
Don't be like them.
More and more people are suffering from various forms of depression, we've had more incidents of people "acting out" in anger (and injuring or killing others in the process), and it just keeps getting worse. Solution?? Good question. I do think that instead of band aid fixes (medications, laws that aren't enforced, bans on things), we need to really sit down and find out the reasons why people are acting the way they are. We need to teach tolerance, compassion, encouragement. We need to communicate--and not via text or e-mail, but sit down and talk with each other. We are so disconnected with each other it isn't funny. Nothing distresses me more than to be in a restaurant and seeing a family at a table with all of their noses in their cell phones. Put the damned things away and spend some quality time together.
Parents need to parent. There are too many doing a half-assed job of it. You made the decision to bring this child in to the world--it's your responsibility until that child is 18 to take care of it. That doesn't mean giving them everything material under the sun or plopping them in front of the TV and using that as a babysitter. Interact with your child, talk to them, do things together, even if it is just cooking at home, playing a game, being creative. Teach them things. More important--let them be kids. I see too many of them shuttled off to dance lessons, athletic activities, etc--they are stressed out by the time they are 10 because their schedules are insane and many of them could care less if they participated in these things. They have little time to play, they are drug from here to there, and for what? An unfulfilled dream of a parent living vicariously through them? To make matters worse, all this running around stresses the parents as well which turns this whole thing in to a vicious circle. Slow down, take a deep breath, and think about the what's and why's behind what you are doing. And once again, be the parent, the adult in this relationship. Use some judgement--Jr. is in 6 different activities at the age of 7--really? Maybe he has expressed an interest in all of these, but be realistic in what he is actually capable of handling and make him pick a couple of them. Kids aren't automatically equipped with the ability to make good decisions, that's why they have parents!!!!! I think too many people are overly competitive or worse yet, afraid that if they don't let their children do all of these things, they are "missing out". The upshot of all of this is we are creating a generation of negative, narcissistic adults who can't punch their way out of a paper bag because they haven't been given the skills.
There is no perfect solution because this is something that has taken years to manifest. But I think we all need to slow down, talk to each other, show some compassion--and quit being so damned mean. Think about what you say before you say it--and how would you feel if someone said the same thing to you or about you. Words are hurtful. The internet can be a wonderful tool, but I have noticed that there are so many people who post things online that they wouldn't even dream of saying to someone face to face. It's so easy to hide behind that computer screen. Quit doing it. Just quit it. NOW.