It Could Have Been Me: Thoughts On The Parkland Shootings

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Acts of massive violence, no matter how they happen or who is involved, are always unsettling for me to take in. And it is not just because of the actions themselves, but because of their motives. On a collective basis, we may never know what drives someone to decide to attempt to end the lives of others. On a personal basis, I think I can put my finger on it, and analyzing the reasons why these individuals commit such atrocities makes me question my purity and innocence.

This post is going to reveal a lot about me, and is a draft of sorts for what I will be writing in a combination of my autobiography as well as a recovery book for people with troubled pasts. I’ve picked up from blogs I have read that to succeed, one has to expose all of his or her details to the world, and let the world decide what to do from there. If I wish to make money writing, I need to accept that this is unavoidable.

And so expose myself to the world I shall, and I will now explain why all these massive acts of violence always leave me feeling uneasy for some time:

That reason is because if circumstances were different, if I was pushed just hard enough, I could have possibly done the same. Yes, I have thought about ending peoples’ lives before. I have told this to each of the handful of counselors I have seen in my life. It is because of this that I know my heart is not pure. Now these thoughts came to a decisive end as quick as they came, but for one short moment, for a 2-3 hour period, I legitimately pondered doing the unforgivable, and nearly took steps to do it.

Before I take you all back to that moment in time, and more importantly, what caused me to back off, allow me to share my “credentials” of sorts as to how I could even consider doing such heinous things:

Right before high school began, my mother ran out on my father and I, leaving me with a broken home going in to high school.

A year after that, I was held up at knifepoint and raped by what used to be a childhood friend of mine. It was so shameful and embarrassing to talk about that it took five whole years after it happened to mention it to anybody.

Two years after that, a girl who I had a massive crush on framed me for stalking her.

These things, compounded with the stresses of high school, being confused and overwhelmed about nearly everything that would happen after high school, and dealing with a workaholic father who was obsessed with me succeeding on his terms, gave me the resolve to, for a few short hours right during winter break of my senior year, consider buying a lethal weapon, taking it to school, and hurting people.

Because of the aforementioned unfortunate events as well as the (false) pressure placed on a person that the high school mentality, I thought that “time was running out” for me to do what I saw my peers doing: Getting girlfriends, getting into a nice college, going to parties, and other high school stuff. My major high school crush brutally rejecting me was the final straw. At the time, I thought I was going to prison or something, as I wouldn’t know exactly what was going to happen to me until after winter break. So I figured that if I was going to be a criminal, I might as well be a violent one.

On one fateful day during that winter break, I took my father to work, and with my new credit card in hand, tried to see if I could buy a handgun. I remember one of my buddies working at an army supplies store over the summer, so I looked it up and drove over there. I remember being extremely nervous on the drive there not just because I had just begun driving in general, but because of the decision I was about to make.

I parked in front of the store. I could not get out of the car. I began to visualize nearly everything that transpired with my high school crush. They became vivid and it was like a movie of sorts played out on the sky above me, displaying everything that happened. Before the winter break began, a bunch of us had a meeting to decide what exactly happened and what kind of punishment (if any) I would receive for creeping my crush out. This was what was being played out.

While still in the car, the visions continued. I visualized myself taking a handgun, pointing it to the people in the room, then running out of the room and being confronted by some of the authorities in the hallway. I demanded they brought my crush over. My crush (and her parents, they were in that meeting as well) are brought over, and I point my handgun in front of me, not specifically aimed at anybody, while the authorities attempt to reason with me. I head for a stairwell, skitter down the stairs with the authorities giving chase, and run out of the building. The vision ends with me running home at full speed.

Keep in mind, all of this is took place in a parking lot in the mid afternoon. At this point, I was not panicking but I did not feel too well either. I gripped and squeezed my wallet as hard as I could, and just drove home. I wound up just getting some gas and some food with my new credit card. When I got home, I could not even eat what I bought. I buried my head in my pillow and cried deeply, saying “its over…its all over” again and again, referring to whatever chance I thought I had with my crush, as well as succeeding at anything in general.

The reason why I mentioned this is to give readers an insight of what it is like to even consider a massive act of violence. Yes, this actually happened. Aside a couple of buddies of mine who I trusted, the only people I ever told this to were counselors. And even then, I kind of said it jokingly, as if I was over it. And I was; within a few hours I had accepted more or less that things with my crush were over for now, and it was time to make the best of my future. By the time winter break of senior year ended, I divorced myself from the high school mentality like I did in my first two years of high school, and I calmed down.

So what separated me from these people who go out and pretend they are Trevor Phillips (a video game character; google it)? Even then, I had things to lose. I had a childhood friend (who I still hang out with today) who I did nearly everything with. My parents were still majorly concerned with my development as a person (in their own way). I just got a new video game and was enjoying it immensely, and I still had buddies at school who cared about me.

But what if the things I had to lose did not mean that much, or if they did not exist? Who knows what would have happened? I do not believe that I decided not to do terrible things because I was afraid of the consequences. When my crush brutally rejected me the way she did, I thought of ending my own life constantly, even telling a counselor at school that I would end my own life before finishing high school. And I meant that; I clearly had plans, as I detailed above. For me, there wouldn’t have been a consequence if I did anything violent, since I was planning to end my own life anyways.

It seems that even back when I felt like there was nothing real to lose, it appeared that I had many things to lose. It makes me happy that I considered that stuff. But again, what if I did not? What would drive anyone to not care? One thing I intend to do is to analyze and explore why these shooters do what they do, what leads them to do it, and stop those motivating factors at the source.

This is why I am so wary of collectivism. I would argue that collectivism is one of the reasons for all this violence. One of my facebook buddies said it best in a status. He said: Only minutes after, and people are using this tragic event as a talking point for gun regulations and that it is unfortunate that it degenerates to that. He’s right. Focusing on improving the lives and well being of the people involved should be the only thing to focus on in the wake of an event like this. But instead, its become a religion of sorts to use events like these as talking points. It is not healthy at all, and will only lead to more of said events.

When I talk about stopping the motivating factors of someone who is driven to hurt others in such a way, I mean addressing concepts of our culture that place unnecessary amounts of pressure on somebody for no apparent reason: Crush Culture and the high school mentality being the main two. It is my belief that these two aspects of our culture place pressure on a person so strong, that they will indeed be driven to hurt people, given certain circumstances.

Another part of our culture that could be a possible motivating factor is an emphasis on self love at the expense of others as opposed to knowledge of self. If I had a background in psychology and biology instead of history, I would argue, and attempt to run research projects arguing that narcissism (or at least narcissistic thought patterns) is slowly becoming part of our DNA coding. There is a book called The Selfish Gene that touches on this observation.

We are selfish by nature, but it seems that we are self-aware by choice. And something else I am observing is that with each passing moment, it seems that we grow more and more ignorant of consequences and secondary effects for the decisions we make. About six or so years ago, I began seeing the phrase “you only live once” on social media quite a bit. While the phrase is supposed to provide a reason for overcoming fear and all the things you were too afraid to do, it also can give a person rationalizations to take unnecessary and large risks. And for purposes of discussion, it can possibly give someone the rationalization to hurt others.

The final thing in our culture that contributes to massive acts of violence are the emergence of toxic communities, hiveminds, and again, an overemphasis on collectivism. The collectivism is self explanatory, as collectivist minded groups are extremely violent in nature, but toxic communities and hiveminds may need a bit more explaining. I will explore the concept of toxic communities and hiveminds further, but for now allow me to present the question: If you had a very negative opinion of something, and others supported, applauded, and even required you to have it in order to be in their group, could this possibly contribute to violence? I believe it could.

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