] Why do people move to suburbia? To have kids! So no wonder
] it seemed boring and sterile. The whole place was a giant
] nursery, an artificial town created explicitly for the purpose of
] breeding children.
] Where I grew up, it felt as if there was nowhere to go, and
] nothing to do. This was no accident. Suburbs are deliberately
] designed to exclude the outside world, because it contains things
] that could endanger children.
] Adults can't avoid seeing that teenage kids are
] tormented. So why don't they do something about it?
] Because they blame it on puberty. The reason kids are so
] unhappy, adults tell themselves, is that monstrous new
] chemicals, hormones, are now coursing through their
] bloodstream and messing up everything. There's nothing
] wrong with the system; it's just inevitable that kids
] will be miserable at that age.
] This idea is so pervasive that even the kids believe it,
] which probably doesn't help. Someone who thinks his feet
] naturally hurt is not going to stop to consider the
] possibility that he is wearing the wrong size shoes.
] I'm suspicious of this theory that thirteen-year-old kids
] are intrinsically messed up. If it's physiological, it
] should be universal. Are Mongol nomads all nihilists at
. . .
] The mediocrity of American public schools has worse
] consequences than just making kids unhappy for six
] years. It breeds a rebelliousness that actively drives kids
] away from the things they're supposed to be learning.
To a great extent, the sleeping American populace has woken up to the fact that there is a problem with the way that they operate their society. Littleton style mass murders are both new and unique enough to indicate that something has changed, but also common enough to indicate that this change is not an aberration. People want to do something about it. Unfortunately, by all accounts, the dialog even years later is wanting.
People seem to grasp onto oversimplified solutions. They blame access to firearms, violent video games, industrial music, etc... These things are easy to attack, but the people attacking them can never seem to explain why their presence doesn't consistently produce the problems they are concerned with, nor why the problems they are concerned with sometimes exist without the presence of the specific cause they cite. This demonstrates a lack of understanding of the scope of the issue.
I have always felt that these problems were systemic and structural rather then limited and specific, and that we are unlikely to be able to see them, understand them, or address them as a society because we do not want to change the things that we would need to change.
Part of the problem is that we see teenage suicides and mass murders as the problem, rather then as symptoms of larger problems. Our response has consisted of attempting to implement a pre-crime system that notifies us of potentially dangerous individuals and contains them. We're not doing anything to understand and address the forces that produce those individuals in the first place, and so those problems will continue to worsen.
I've had a hard time putting my thoughts about this into words because its hard to see the forrest for the trees without a sufficiently tall ladder. This essay is such a ladder.
That fact is that the world we've built for young people puts them under a great deal of pressure. Some of them pop. Video games and guns are not the source of the pressure. They are the valve through which it is released. Removing them won't solve the problem, it will simply cause it to manifest in other ways.
Its frequently the case that those who pop are too immature to put things into perspective, but it is stupid to stop your inquiry into this by simply saying "those people are bad, good people know better then to shoot up their school."
It is wrong to show our children in high school the kind of indifference you'd project toward an enemy in war. These people are not your enemy; they are your responsibility.
You must equip them with the perspective needed to make the right decisions, and you must identify and eliminate the pressures you have created that drive them to these ends.
We don't seem to be doing either. I have little optimism that we will.
Why Nerds are Unpopular (Long, and worth it.)