During my sophomore year of high school, something happened that not only shocked the world, but also changed how I saw the world. I am talking about the school shooting at Columbine. This is not a retelling of those events, but more of a reflection on how it affected me in a completely different part of the country.
It was during 2nd period when this event happened. As news was pouring in about the situation, there was an increase in police presence at my school. Although there to protect us, it definitely made things feel very real. I remember that any little transgression was being met with suspensions and in one case expulsion. Before this, these things might have been overlooked or given a lesser sentence.
Even though it was not my school that was attacked, I would have panic attacks and nightmares that someone would do the same thing at my school. More importantly, it changed my viewpoint about guns in general. They do have their place, but there are some people who just should not have them. Others took the opposite view and think that guns should be everywhere so that they can protect themselves. That is not sound logic.
Loosening of gun laws have occurred all over the country, but instead of stopping school shootings, the number of shootings has drastically increased. I hear every day people saying that the world has changed and is more dangerous. Well that does correlate with the relaxation of gun laws, including not requiring background checks for purchase.
Those of us that lived through Columbine are now in the place where our own children are now starting school. Have we done anything to protect this new generation of children? Are we protecting these children at the cost of their happiness and ability to see the beauty in the world?
Some schools are now essentially prisons for children. There are police patrolling constantly, metal detectors, bag searches, teachers’ carrying guns, school shooting drills, and any other restriction to their rights that can be imagined. They are not allowed to even leave the school without someone to come claim them.
It just seems that over the last twenty years, there has not been any real action to address the reasons why school shootings occur. Some claim it is due to a problem of mental health, but we have not created facilities for people to get help or made it easy for people to be treated. Others claim that it is due to drugs. Well again there has not been a real push to get people help for this issue.
Then there is the fame that is associated with this event. We always make sure that people know who the shooter is or are, but the victims just become a number. There is a philosophic train of thought called hyper realism by Jean Baudrillard. Simply put it is the idea that people are unable to differentiate between what is real and what is not. Highly technological societies are the most prone to be victims of this logic.
Social media does play its role in this phenomenon because it allows for people to not pay attention to the truth, but rather what they believe is true. They end up disregarding fact and putting their whole faith in what they read on social media. It also allows for people to connect with others who share the same viewpoints and empowers them to commit these acts.
We will have to patiently wait to see if any change occurs or if everything will keep getting worse…..