Why the killings took place. Why our society is so screwed.

greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

People have blamed guns. They've blamed the media. They've blamed a lack of values and religion.

I blame instant gratification.

Okay, this is going to sound absurdly stupid coming from someone who himself watches violent movies, plays computer games, reads violent novels.. who isn't religious (deist, not atheist). But..

People turn on the box and expect to be entertained. Lowest-common-denominator stuff. Baywatch. Sex, cheap sex, because it sells. Action without consequences. All this new-age stuff that says, "Nobody is guilty. Do as you feel. You're entitled to everything. Nothing is real."

That last sentence in particular. Nothing is real. Actions don't have consequences. If you do something horrible, just get tearful and sell your story to the media, then write a book about it and become a celebrity. If you fail at something, it's not because you didn't try hard enough, it's because you were discriminated against. Nothing is your fault.

A car accident. Both parties sue each other for millions. People think they're entitled to twenty million dollars because they slipped on the floor of the supermarket. Twenty million dollars is twenty times as much as the average person ($25k/year, 40 years) will earn and spend during their LIFETIME. Yet jurors award the money anyway.

Why? Because they've lost all sense of proportion. All sense of reality. There's a big invincible government that can do anything, dispense everything. A billion dollars? No probs, for the government. What's her name, that woman whose chest has enough silicon to qualify as an approved flotation device, who marries a rich guy who dies and leaves her $97 million.. Anna Nicole Smith. People like that. Our celebrities.

The lottery. People earning hundreds of millions as actors at age twenty. Free sex for all. Do what feels good. You like candy? Then go out and eat all you like. You get fat? Never mind, big is beautiful. But then there's the image thing. The media. Sensationalists. Feeding people what tastes nice, not what's healthy. The wedding of two soap stars gets headline news while a massacre of kids is on page five.

What I'm getting at is that all values have been distorted. This "If it feels good, do it; you have a right to instant gratification and fuck everyone else" culture may be superficially nice, but there's a negative side to it. A side that is growing bigger and worse. Teenagers dress in black because they believe that they have no future. Things like the Denver incident.

Nobody has told these people that A is A. That we live in a real, logical world -despite all this media and cultural crap telling us that logic is just a matter of perception. Sorry, but you can't argue with the laws of physics. Reality is reality. You can't spend a penny until you've earned it.

When I was ten, I wanted a certain Lego set. I was getting 50c a week pocket money at the time. Parents told me that if I wanted more money, I'd have to go earn it. They suggested a paper round. I went to the local newsagent, asked if they had any jobs. They said no, but they'd call me back if one came up. One did; a guy was quitting. I spent four hours every Saturday morning (and every Sunday too, after a year when that run became vacant and I took it) waking up at 6, blowing a whistle and hefting a cart around. (I wasn't a deliverer, I was a seller. 1/8th of the cost of each paper plus any tips, I got.) No instant gratification. I worked for it.

I want to be a multimillionaire, with any luck a billionaire. By someone else's efforts? No, of course not. By my own. If I make a billion dollars it'll be because I'm damn good, not because I was lucky in court or married some rich person or did something sleazy and became a celebrity.

I don't think more regulation is the answer. I think less is. I think we need to teach people that actions have consequences, that before you spend a dollar you have to earn it. That A is A. That you have to make your own decisions. That you have to Think. Allow people to make more decisions for themselves.

I drink alcohol. I've played with mind-altering drugs. The reason I don't use drugs isn't because they're illegal. It's because I don't want to. I've decided not to. When I drink alcohol, I decide to. That's the action. The consequence could be a hangover. That's the cost.

People don't take responsibility for themselves. Religion is nothing great, just a code of behaviour. People NEED codes of behaviour, whether they be self-imposed (like me) or externally imposed (a good Christian has the Ten Commandments to obey). They at least need to realise that if they become utter fuckups, it's their own fault and there IS redemption from the gutter.. not through any magic formula, but through their own willpower. That you can change what you are, for the better, if you want to. That even Joe Fuckup can become Joe Cool and walk off with the prom queen -not by winning the lottery or whining enough, but by going to the gym diligently and working out there and getting a job and working his ass off and quit the drugs and studying in class and so on.

Thanks for reading this. I know this is hopelessly off topic. Maybe y2k will clear things up, bring our culture back to reality. Maybe we need a war or something. Until then.. I'm not going to whine about the world we live in (what will that achieve?), but we DO have a fucked-up society. Something that -I know this sounds like millenial doomsday crap and I only mean it in this context, since there are a lot of great people who would be hurt if this all happened- possibly DESERVES to fall apart.

--Leo "Capitalism is simply the extension of logic" Champion

-- Leo (lchampion@ozemail.com.au), April 23, 1999


Should be published, and posted in EVERY SCHOOL in the country. And every kid should be issued a locker with it posted inside. Thanks Leo for your take, since you are from the same country (no, not geographically; psychologically and hormonally. Which is a strange land indeed, if memory serves. Yes, I was 18 once too. Wouldn't do it again for anything! Well, maybe one or two things but NONE of them are of this reality/continuum.)


-- chuck, a Night Driver (rienzoo@en.com), April 23, 1999.

Leo, Leo--it was a GREAT essay until I came to the bit about marrying the Prom Queen. This is half the bloody problem, Leo, the Prom Queen has store-bought bazooms, very expensive designer clothes, fake nails, $5-10,000 worth of dental work, and that's not her real hair color, ya know, and her hobby is shopping and decorating. If she didn't have all that, she wouldn't BE the Prom Queen. If you could just change that to the law school's top graduate or the CEO of a large company or even simply soul-mate, then you'd have it made.

-- Old Git (anon@spamproblems.com), April 23, 1999.

True about the prom queen. FYI, my ideal woman is not the "I've got a massive chest, no intelligence, minimal self-esteem and all I want is to be a good mother" type. She's someone with brains, a career, her own achievements -my equal or my superior. Then again, people like that.. I think you call them 'preps' in the US, and they're the prom stars. From my understanding. Anyway.

-- Leo (lchampion@ozemail.com.au), April 23, 1999.

Perfect synopsis.

-- Helen (sstaten@fullnet.net), April 23, 1999.

Old Goat was obviously never a prom queen and seems a bit jealous. I do enjoy the stereotypical blanket thinking. Very typical of the forum.

-- g-money (hiphop@awaywego.com), April 23, 1999.

Hi, Leo, I'm on an active ListServ with some "alternative" ppl, many teenagers, some Goths -- and many of these young people are passionate and intelligent, and are suffering a backlash because of media "witchhunting" now.

When the Colorado threads were going strong here a couple days ago, I was reading the breaking news articles, and most all of them, TV talking heads too, were headlining WHY WHY WHY WHY -- and I flash-typed in frustration the following, which kicked off a discussion of responsibility, etc :

<< It boggled me ole head that everybody is running around screeching "WHY??"

 Idiots! The reasons are SO OBVIOUS !!

 Duh, is the Internet still such a "forbidden" mystery that no adult around there ever noticed the very pointed websites and chatrooms? And the hours & hours & hours of violent computer games?
 Duh, does no responsible adult or parent know how to use a search engine?
 Duh, didn't anybody notice the videos the boys made, which they showed IN CLASS, depicting their exact sick and dangerous fantasies and intentions?

 Duh, several students filed reports with the police stating their alarm way before it happened, duh, does anybody know how to read? Did nobody care? Duh?
 Duh, since they were "despised, hassled and taunted," did nobody think that constant hurtful rejection might stir up anger?
 Duh, they left notes SAYING WHY!! DUH, mebbe read their notes? DUH ????

 The duh dolts will wonder WHY and yes, "witchhunt" and scapegoat the easy superficials: ooooh, homosexuals, EEK! ooooh, makeup, EEK! ooooh, trenchcoats, EEK! ooooh, vampires, EEK! ooooh, WWII, EEK! [uh, WWIII started March 24, according to Russia, duh], ooooh, goths, EEK! ooooh, Lestat, EEK! ooooh, doomsday, EEK! ooooh, Nostradamus, EEK! ooooh, Y2K, EEK! ooooh, the Internet, EEK! EEEK! EEEEEEK!!!

 When looking at all the oooky "differences" and observing the boys' behavior, interests, videos, complaints, web sites -- all out in the open -- and how LONG this all went on,

 DUH! They were UNHAPPY! Duh duh duh duh duh. They needed intervention LONG AGO via a responsible ad.dolt who could look past the trappings and see that it went beyond the regular, normal 'alternative' dippings into the 'occult.'

 It happened because the boys were irresponsible and went deep and long into evil and despair, beyond the chic symbols of experimentation, and because they took the brunt of social abuse too long and internalized it and nobody did a thing about it.

 SO MANY SIGNS WERE THERE !!!! DUH! "*WHY????*" Duh, let's appoint a committee and 'study' it for 20 years. DUH!

 Oh, and ____, I want to rant without the world at large, who no comprehende nada, voyeuring the piss & vinegar :-)

And now back to docile prim & proper lurking ...  >>


-- Not normally (this torked@in.Cascadia), April 23, 1999.

Leo "Capitalism is simply the extension of logic" Champion,

I think you're on track here, except for one very important idea. Take that logic and apply it to what you are saying about the "non-reality" state that you are describing. Why have we gotten to that state? I think it's two-fold: because people want to make lots of money - everyone "wants to be a multimillionaire, with any luck a billionaire." The other factor is that probably the bulk of humanity have a very narrow view of reality to begin with, and it's easily exploited by those searching for a buck.

Look, you and I are pretty well educated guys. And, our perspectives are such that we can see beyond the borders of our own internal experience. Seeing outside of ourselves enhances the internal experience, enabling us to see even more outside ourselves. It's a wonderful and terrifying perspective. It means that we feel a certain amount of responsibility to the world. Am I describing you at all correctly? I think I am, if you weren't like that, you wouldn't be posting your concerns to this forum.

I live in a working class neighborhood. I think these people here are typical of people in the world. I can see them in the stores, for instance, and if you watch them, it becomes very clear that buying something that they want is an important part of their lives. The culture at large offers little in the way of truly self-satisfying possibilities, so buying that "thing" takes on more importance than it probably deserves. We all know how much fun getting that new groovy toy is, but for many people, I think their perspectives are such that this is the main enhancer of their internal experiences.

Then there are the folks who are mainly interested in "wanting to be a multimillionaire, with any luck a billionaire," as the way to enhance their internal experiences. How does one go about doing that, through hard work and good ideas? Well, I suppose the best way is to come up something that people want to buy, seeing it through the entire process from conception, manufacture, distribution and finally laughing all the way to the bank. I once met a man who was a game designer in the '50s and '60s; he designed ALL those board games that I played as a kid. It's just a few short leaps from "Operation" to "Doom."

So, then the cycle makes itself clear. People have varying degrees of internal experience, often it can be satisfied by the kinds of cheap non-reality thrills that you describe. Others want to make big bucks, and find that a good way to do that is by providing the cheap thrills. This makes it even more prevalent in the culture, giving people a larger number of cheap thrills to choose from (at the expense of more "realistic" things?) giving the chasers of the dollars an even bigger incentive to come up with ideas that will be more thrilling than last years', giving people a wider selection....

On and on it goes...

So, Leo, why don't YOU break the pattern? (that is, IF it concerns you...) Rather than focusing on "wanting to be a multimillionaire, with any luck a billionaire," as the way to enhance your internal experience, why not focus on something that will add a little MORE reality to the world? You're obviously talented and energetic, with interests in literature and politics, why not do something in one of those areas that will enhance your internal experience AND enhance the state of reality in the culture? I don't think you're going to starve no matter what you do, so what's the motivation for "wanting to be a multimillionaire, with any luck a billionaire?" Power? Power over others? Power over their perspectives? Will you be willing to do anything it takes "be a multimillionaire, with any luck a billionaire?" Will you be willing to come up with a creative new way to manufacture and distribute assault rifles to do that? Not that there's anything INHERENTLY wrong with that, mind you, (I don't mean to pick on that issue, it's just that that's kinda what started this) but wouldn't the world be better off with a truly great novel than with another billionaire?

If "Capitalism is simply the extension of logic," doesn't that logic dictate that since the "non-reality" that you describe is largely due to the kinds of products that you mention, that capitalism and its motivations are also partly responsible for that state of "non- reality?" Personally, I think that capitalism is the best way to distribute soap powder and toothpaste, but viewed as some sort of philosophical doctrine, it leaves something to be desired. And, I don't think it's "hopelessly off topic." Afterall, one of the main tenets of capitalism is to get as much return as possible on investment, and well, if using two digits instead of four is gonna save a whole bunch of money, well...

Enough for now. I hope you see my point...

-- pshannon (pshannon@inch.com), April 23, 1999.

Dittos Leo. Amen and hallelujah for stating the obvious.

Of course today, your essay is going to be debunked as "extremist" thinking or taken out of context. But I agree....a shake-up is needed to avoid complete disaster. And quickly.

But I fear, as Infomagic does, the longer it takes the slumbering herd to wake up, use logic to see consequences of actions or inactions, and ACT NOW, the greater the calamity will be when it does arrive.

The question is, by then will anyone survive it?

The prom queen is immaterial. She's window dressing.

Leo's point was about working hard to achieve a goal, not "blanket stereotypes."

And hey gang....stereotypes exist because there is a level of truth to them.

-- INVAR (gundark@sw.net), April 23, 1999.

Leo, excellent, go along with most of it except the bit about the lottery!

-- dick of the dale (rdale@coynet.com), April 23, 1999.


Great essay. You really are an old soul much more mature than your age would indicate.

Have you seen The Matrix yet? I'm not sure if it's made it's way to you down under but I'm sure this movie will take a lot of hits for the violence. However, the plot of the movie is really worth seeing. Anyway, you're essay and that movie made me think a bit about this...

Have you ever had that feeling where all of a sudden you "wake up"?

You're actually already awake and living your life, as usual, when out of left field it hits you... "wow, I'm really alive." You look around you at all the other people and realize that they are alive too. You get a rush of shock, fear, joy and wonder and at the same time. Maybe you shiver a bit, look around you, think about why it is that life is even possible. You realize that most of the time you aren't really even paying attention to the very fact that you really are a living, breathing miracle. This is hard to put into words. It's a hard feeling to describe. I guess it is the epitome of a reality check.

What if our society has made it possible for some children to never actually have this feeling? They never actually "wake up." They live their lives in a dream state where the comforts of modern day life make it difficult to have this kind of reality check. Maybe they actually live their lives as if they are in a movie or virtual reality. Perhaps a whole lot of adults live this way too. Maybe that is why many stay DGIs? Is it more comfortable to remain in the dream state where reality isn't really reality but the state of a comfortable mind?

On occasion, when I play a game on my computer I have this feeling of kinesthesia long after I play the game. I feel the motion of the game and even hear the sounds from the game long after I stop playing. I may even dream about the game and I may even get addicted to the game. I'm 36 years old. What would this do to a child that has been playing these games from a very early age? Wow, that scares me to even think about it.

I'm not trying to shift blame to a video game. I do, however, understand that children are like an newly formatted hard drive. They're born with their basic software installed and the rest of the programming is left to their parents and their view of society. We've got a lot of kids with bugs in their programming and a society that has serious problems.

I think you're right Leo. Reality IS reality. But, reality is viewed throught the eyes and the mind of the individual. What is reality to these children? What is reality to many adults?

We're bombing a country and most people don't even want to think about it. It's a whole other world away. People don't want to understand the complex issues and consequences of our actions. Many don't want to have a dialogue about it.

However, I've come across people that weren't even affected by what happened in Littleton. People are very, very disconnected. They don't want to have their comfortable state of mind disrupted.

I wonder why we are different? Why do so many here care so much that they would post their views and argue them and offer support to complete strangers or cyber friends? Are we lost in the cyberspace reality of the Internet? Or do we typically contain more passion and fear about our existence than most?

It isn't the easy access to guns or the lack of laws that would make a child act out in this way. There is something missing these days and I feel it goes much deeper than the knee jerk reactions that people have when a tragedy like this occurs.

Anyway, I think it's time for our society to get a reality check.

Mike =================

-- Michael Taylor (mtdesign3@aol.com), April 23, 1999.


The Matrix - old old plot my son :)

-- Andy (2000EOD@prodigy.net), April 23, 1999.


I know... nothing new under the sun : ) but it's the current rehash...

also Andy, I'm watching the D.A. Dave Thomas of Littleton speaking. I wish you and your community well and I think you're very fortunate to have a man like this working for you.

We need more leaders like this.

Mike ============================================================

-- Michael Taylor (mtdesign3@aol.com), April 23, 1999.

Thanks Mike,

seems like a Good Guy.


-- Andy (2000EOD@prodigy.net), April 23, 1999.

Leo, thank you for your thoughts. AR identified and dramatized many of them in depth in her novel Atlas Shrugged.

When a child begins to develop into an adult (when they become able to abstract and integrate) they begin a journey that has at its roots the responsibility to grasp and understand that they have free will - i.e. that they have the power to determine what their reaction to any aspect of reality they encounter will be. Using this "understanding of the universe and their relation to it" they are free to choose their values, free to choose when, where, why, and how their values may be achieved, and free to experience the results of their choices. Their only constraints are that they logically grant the same freedom and responsibility to their fellow human beings. Capitalism is the logical extension of these principles, applied in a social context.

Our society is engaged in a suicidal rush in the opposite direction. We are told that we are not "free to choose." That we are the products of forces beyond our own control (ignoring the fact that if that were true then they would be uttering such jibberish "because of forces beyong their control." The individual Rights and responsibilities of each of us which are based on our moral responsibility to choose is undermined and continually sacrificed on the alter of "societal benefits." Take just one simple, though timely relevant example: The second amendment and the massacre in Colorado.

Can anyone dispute the notion that had it been reasonably expected, that one or more of the teachers or administrators (read responsible individual adults) in that school had been legally armed, that a) the attack by the murderers would not as likely have taken place? b) that less or no deaths/injuries might have been the result of such an attack? c) the unfortunate teacher that lay on the floor and bled to death while hundreds of "the peoples police and SWAT teams" engaged in utterly inefectual efforts to grasp, act, and restore safety and order to the school, would not likely have died? No they cannot make such arguments. They only argue that guns are the problem and that if only all guns were removed from society will we enjoy safety and order.

In the distant future as humanity has moved ever closer to "Utopia", the history of "America's Time" will be viewed with incredulity. Never in history was so much truth and achievement on display, while at the same time so much ignorance and malice allowed to flourish. Unfortunately,

-- Dave Walden (wprop@concentric.net), April 23, 1999.

"Those that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." (Ben Franklin)

-- zoobie (zoob@aol.com), April 24, 1999.

I'd like to see a program where troubled ( or maybe every ) junior High and up kid had to attend the Autopsy of someone who died a violent death. So they can see what DEATH really is like. The sight, the smell. The REALITY of it. Not the neat little picture they get from movies and TV or the video games. Most people don't forget something like that...

-- kozak (kozak@formerusaf.guv), April 24, 1999.


Great article. Thanks for caring enough to write it. The word "jaded" comes to mind. It takes more and more to excite us these days because we have so much sensory stimulation. tv, movies, music, sex, drugs, (prescription), cars, food...

The boundaries are gone and anything we like, we indulge until it doesn't satisfy anymore. Life is more profoundly stimulating when there are forbidden territories and mysteries yet to experience.

-- LindaO (janetrenoNOT@hotmail.com), April 24, 1999.

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