From Quillete The Deadly Boredom of ‘A Meaningless Life’
And Mel Magazine What Do We Do About the Violence of Lonely Young Men?
The shootings in Denver and El Paso are an invitation for internet armchair psychologists and pundits everywhere to rehash the same tired narrative to explain the epidemic of mass shootings by young people, which is as follows:
There are these teens and 20-somethings who are socially isolated and turns to online ‘hate groups’ and sites such as 4chan out of boredom and to find a sense of belonging, and the rise of technology is having an alienating effect, as well as society becoming more atomized…something something Bowling Alone…something….something. Therefore, more shootings. The end.
This narrative poplar among both sides of the political aisle, and sidesteps the red-hot issue of guns, in which dems are accused of being gun-grabbers and republicans are accused of being cold and indifferent, and moreover, blaming violent video games or violent lyrics has been debunked. So blaming culture and society–specifically, extremism online and the ‘male loneliness epidemic’–is an alternative that both sides can agree on.
From the Quillete article, disagree here:
In a 2017 article I wrote, titled Towards a Theory of Virtual Sentiments, I argued that real-time empathy generation often requires some degree of eye contact—which is hard to generate through online interaction. Moreover, it is shockingly easy to get worked up into a rage when you are interacting with an online avatar of a person you have never met. Simply put, the more we physically see each other, the less likely we are to be awful to each other. As Louis CK said in an interview about youth and technology, “They don’t look at people when they talk to them and they don’t build empathy. You know, kids are mean, and it’s cause they’re trying it out. They look at a kid and they go, ‘You’re fat,’ and then they see the kid’s face scrunch up and they go, ‘Oh, that doesn’t feel good to make a person do that.’ But when they write ‘You’re fat’ [online] then they just go, ‘Mmm, that was fun, I like that.’” Even putting aside the extreme cases of forums that cater to homicidal shooters, I remain unconvinced that any community that exists primarily in online form can be a force for long-term good. Perhaps more time offline is a good start for anyone seeking to enhance “the norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness.”
These killers are in social settings though, such as school or work, but for whatever reason if failed them or it didn’t work. Being in a social setting does not mean one will be ingratiated into it. Forevermore, many of these shooters are not necessarily loners or social outcasts. Many have families, and that fact that domestic violence is so common in America is evidence that people who are not alone can still have a capacity for violence if for whatever reason are provoked. An an extreme example, in 1999, Mark O. Barton, a daytrader, killed his wife and two children, and then 9 other people at his former employer after losing a lot of money, so it’s not like social isolation was to blame. The Dayton shooter for example was the lead singer of a metal band. Japan has the so-called ‘herbivore men’ phenomenon, yet violence is very low. Not because Japan has low rates of gun ownership, but because the overwhelming majority of isolated people are nonviolent, and committing a mass shooting necessitates that one directly engage with other people.
There are plenty of people who voluntarily live in rural or remote areas and have little contact with other people without experiencing mental health problems. Studies show similar incidence of mental health problems among rural vs urban residents.
There is a ‘loneliness epidemic’, not because people are being excluded, but because people are willingly choosing to exclude themselves, because most people are uninteresting, pushy, and annoying to be around, and recent innovations such as high-speed internet, Amazon Kindle, streaming content, and smart phones has made it easier than ever for people to dissociate on their own terms. In the past, families gathered around to watch TV, not necessarily because they enjoyed each other’s company, but because televisions were bulky and expensive, so there was no choice but to share. To quote Chalres Bukowski “People empty me. I have to get away to refill,” and George Carlin “I like people, but I like them in short bursts. I don’t like people for extended periods of time. I’m all right with them for a little while, but once you get up past around… a minute, minute and a half, I gotta get the f*** out of there.”
Also the fact that the divorce rate in America is so high and that so many couples are unhappy and that marriage counseling is such a big business, is evidence that a lot of people are probably better off alone.
Moreover, people willingly pay a hefty premium to remove themselves from the general public, whether it’s first class plane tickets, private hospital rooms, ‘luxury boxes’ for sporting events, etc. Men spend thousands of dollars or more on ‘man caves’, and wealthy people spend millions of dollars on vacations homes secluded from the general public.
The ‘right to refuse,’ whether it’s being with other people, or to be coerced, or the right to refuse to incriminate one’s self, is a relatively recent development historically. The Bill of Rights is unique and revolutionary in that it stipulates ‘negative rights’. For thousands of year–for much of the history of civilization–people did not have the right to refuse, but were subjected to the whims of whoever was in charge, be it a despot, pharaoh, or some other apparatus of power and control. The notion that man is a social animal can be called into doubt, because humans are the only species endowed with an imagination, a sufficiently advanced thought process, and technology to be self-sufficient, unlike primates, which form large social groups for survival.
But given how young white males have become a convenient scapegoat by the left for everything wrong with society, whether it’s sexism, shootings, political extremism, Trump etc., is it any wonder why they may be choosing to be alone.