What Millenials Fear

Yesterday, hours before the elementary school shooting in Connecticut, I was reading an article on Tor.com discussing why many of today’s largest movie franchises have eerily similar villains: distinctive but mysterious individuals who wreak destruction on the world for their own pleasure.  Some replied that it was repetitive and monotonous.  But to me, this is the Millenial zeitgeist, our evil made real on the screen. We don’t fear world powers. We don’t particularly fear nuclear war.  Even armed combat is far removed for most of the generation.

Millenials fear individuals who have chaos in their soul and firepower in their hands.

We are not stunned by such acts as mass murder.  We are the children of Columbine, elementary students ourselves in 1999.  We were old enough to watch the towers fall but young enough to be unaware of the ramifications.

The enemy to us is a lone wolf lurking in the shadows: faceless until he strikes. Though the individual face changes, we know he is there.  We know the attack will come, but not the specifics.  An office building.  A school classroom.  A movie theater.  A shopping mall. We know that it will not be soldiers who are his targets, but civilians.  At any moment, any of us could be the victim.

Worse, at any moment, any of us could be the killer.

Millenials are young, with often undirected potential coursing through our hearts.  We have reached the age of danger: old enough to understand the infamy of lone gunman, young enough that we think we have little to lose.

Our own egos are often fragile, constructed on social networks, bolstered by cliques and relationship.   If we have careers, we have only just begun them.  Few of us have started families of our own.  Our lives are not yet rooted in reality and as such are vulnerable. We will trade them for causes that speak to our souls.  We are ripe for martyrdom.

For most of us, our passions will direct our lives in productive ways.  But for some of the children of Columbine, the peers of Jared Lee Loughner, James Holmes, Jacob Tyler Roberts, and now Adam Lanza, that unchanneled fire will send them careening into destruction.

The rest of us watch them crash and burn, rubbernecking at the carnage.  One more of the enemy has stepped from the shadows and carried out his selfish deed.  Innocents fall at his hands, and we mourn them.  We continue on.  Our enemy has not been mollified; he could strike again next week with different hands, at a different target.  This is no different than usual for Millenials, who have learned to live with the unknown terror.  If we do pause to dread anything, the lone gunman will be there in our thoughts.

Worse, we will be there, too.

Please DON’T Follow the Sirens

Krem 2 News Screenshot

My drive home tonight was interrupted by about a dozen police cars zipping north with their sirens blaring. As soon as I got home I turned on the local news to see what was happening. All three stations were on full alert, and for good reason: a suspect had shot two police deputies, jacked a car, and sped away northward.

That is a legitimate reason for excitement, but from there things went a little loco. It was as if the insanity of the suspect leeched into the air around the crime scene and particles were inhaled by nosy bystanders.

A message board for one of the news stations featured a post about a woman who was recording the crime scene with a phone – she claimed she was tackled by police who wanted her to stop. One: If officers tell you to stop doing something, they probably have a good reason. Two: What’s more important, shooting a grainy, wobbly video on your phone of some incident you’re not even involved in, or letting the police do their job?

The other idiotic onlooker that got to me was a man who watched the police cars pass him, then drove after them in pursuit to see what was going to happen. The local station featured him as a “witness.” One: No, no, and no. Two: NO!

I think this secondhand insanity might be related to the way social media fosters an egotistical mindset. These people (and others) were concerned mostly with what was happening to themselves. They wanted to be involved in the spectacle of it all. The information they were gathering to “share” wasn’t the primary objective.

KHQ Facebook Page Post

I don’t have anything against social media and sharing in general (this is a blog, after all). Facebook, Twitter, YouTube – all good things. What I do have a problem with is self-centeredness and tunnel vision. If you can’t see why driving after a police pursuit is A BAD IDEA, then you have a problem.

Being a spectator is fine when it comes to specifically designed amusements or entertainments: a baseball game, a concert, a movie. But individuals get it into their heads that the world is specifically designed to amuse them, and a crime scene is just another spectacle to ogle. They might justify it with the “sharing information” excuse, but at some point that falls flat, especially when that isn’t their job.

Just drive home and watch the news. You might not get your amateur video coverage on YouTube, but at least you won’t be tackled by a police officer.

KXLY 4 News Photo