As I mentioned in the most recent weeknotes, nothing about the most recent spate of USA mass shootings is particularly new or even surprising. But one thing that struck me is that both of the assailants in Uvalde and Buffalo were eighteen years old. Eighteen! This shouldn't be surprising, since even the perpetrators of the earliest mass shootings like Columbine were eighteen years old.
When you're young and you first turn eighteen, you feel good about yourself because yay, you're an adult now, but what does that even mean? Looking back at myself when back when I turned eighteen, it feels like I was very much still a kid who knew next to nothing about how the world works. At the time I would have been in the first semester of my second year of college, doing poorly in almost every one of my subjects, one of the worst periods in my life. I remember being sad and disappointed in myself and not knowing how to break the news to my parents about how I was doing so badly. Yet despite all of this, never would I have considered taking it out on the world, on other people, through such violence. I would have had no idea how to get any sort of real weapon, much less a firearm, and even if I did, I'm pretty sure I would have been way too timid or anxious (not to mention poor!) to even consider purchasing one or God forbid using one on other people.
It's an unfair comparison of course, because my life was completely different from these school shooters. We don't have a rabid gun culture over here so there's really no way I would have had access to a firearm. I was raised in a loving environment with a good support system. I was never really bullied and had a good set of friends that I hung out with. I didn't have the internet feeding me conspiracy stories or making me misogynistic or racist or whatever.
But that was me. I lived a relatively good, sheltered life, even in a poor, developing country like the Philippines. For every person like me, there would be many more who were in much more difficult conditions and upbringings, but from back then until now, you don't hear of eighteen-year-olds in this country snapping and going on a violent killing spree attacking little kids, whether it's with a gun or with an itak or with a bat.
That kind of thing is a very rare occurrence anywhere in the world actually, except in the USA. It's not just the internet radicalization, it's not just mental health issues; it's not video games or open doors or whatever. Most of these things exist in other countries too. The insane gun culture is a large part of it, and that's something that seems totally incomprehensible to the rest of the world. But beyond that, there's something about the USA culturally that makes it more common to have young people feeling isolated or unable to connect with their fellow human beings, enough that lashing out with violence seems like an appropriate response. It is especially tragic considering the USA is one of the most prosperous nations in the world, which one assumes would allow them to better look after the welfare and security of their citizens.
I'm not an American, I'm an outsider looking in with sadness, so my opinion on this is worth very little. But somehow I don't feel optimistic that the USA as a country would be able to solve this issue soon.