It’s not all bad, and I’m not blaming it for these mass shootings.
But there’s something social media does that we have to talk about.
On social media, you can showcase your life, and look into the lives of others, to a degree we have never been able to do before.
For most people, that might just mean “keeping up with the Jones'” on travel, clothes, kids, etc., etc.
Sometimes, though, it turns into a quest for fame and popularity. It can be the fast track to stardom, of a sort. Still, a benign distraction, most of the time.
Then there is the rare person, who already feels inferior or irrelevant. They see everyone else having a blast on Facebook (not realizing that most are exaggerating or lying) and it’s passing them by.
Meanwhile, the world is full of voices telling this person that the world is rigged, miserable and unfair.
The fall-out would look something like this: I’m lonely, isolated, everyone’s doing exciting things, no one will ever pay attention to me. Victimhood. Pity party. Anger.
Still, not necessarily dangerous to anybody.
However, every so often, one of these people comes unmoored from whatever would otherwise govern their behavior.
You used to be able to turn to religion, in moments mired in sadness or despair. We’ve mocked that half to death, and many of the people in organized religion are, to be honest, lousy resources.
Look, when you don’t feel good, you keep trying things to feel better, right?
I think mass shooters are going to turn out to be, most of the time, people who want to get noticed, and maybe even get famous.
Not necessarily with a political ideology or goal, In fact, I think “manifestos” are a form of trolling. It’s probably a sick kind of fun to watch society tear itself apart over who to blame for what YOU did.
So, you are now famous, the most famous. Even the president stops whatever he’s doing and talks about you.
As the saying goes, we have torn down fences without knowing or caring why they were put up. We’ve allowed our culture to decay. Life is disposable, literally. Virtue is mocked. We’ve thrown away the notion of God, of a higher power. That, as C.S. Lewis points out, is where “right and wrong” come from. Without God and the promise of something beyond this life, who can say what’s “right”, “wrong” or “normal”? Why should we care?
Today, people are again proposing laws, to make up for the things that are missing. Laws tell us what not to do. They can’t inspire us to do something better.
That approach will disappoint us, as it has before.