Why Mass Shootings

This is a very apocalyptic culture. When you are always in it, you don’t notice but it’s the most striking of its features. I still feel startled by this every day. We experienced some really major collapses back in the late 1980s and 1990s. Do you know what it’s like when everybody loses all of their savings, at once, overnight? This happened to us. And people did go nuts over it, understandably. But nobody went as nuts as Americans go every day over completely imaginary crises. I’ve lived in Canada, and there’s nothing remotely like this. It’s unique.

This isn’t a uniformly negative thing. A youthful freshness of perspective is not bad at all. Problems only begin when society becomes very atomized. The constant apocalyptic blaring creates an unbearable affect for some folks. That unbearable affect is easily contained if you are surrounded by people who anchor you in reality: a close family, a group of close friends, a real (not online) community of some sort.

When the idea that the world is ending implants in the mind of a very lonely person, that person starts expecting death. It’s impossible to live, constantly fearing that the end is coming at any, completely unpredictable time. It’s not shocking that at least a few such people will engineer a situation of controlling both death and a group of people.

This kind of apocalyptic mentality can only avoid creating all sorts of insanely sick scenarios if it exists in a society that is very good at building cohesion. Neurosis is defined as “living in the expectation of something bad that’s about to happen.” We need to stop being so in love with this neurosis.

Look at this morning’s post. We are freaking out the kids with our incessant screeching about existential crises and imminent collapses. It’s easy to blame some dumb buggers from a hundred years ago but they didn’t cause this. We are.

5 thoughts on “Why Mass Shootings”

  1. “When you are always in it, you don’t notice”

    Yeah, back when I was sort of between the US and Poland I’d have reverse culture shock in the US and part of it was the constant shrieking of “DANGER! DANGER! DANGER!” in American media…
    Arriving from of a place where people were going through massive political, economic and social disruptions yet maintained an impressive level of sangfroid to such a stable settled place with so much daily alarmism was by turns unsettling and kind of ridiculous.
    There’s also the apocalyptic nature of US protestantism, especially the more fundamentalist streams – as far back as I can remember they were constantly looking for signs of the literal… apocalypse. A bit of cultural shock in Poland was how little religion had to do with looking for the end of the world.


    1. I used to read a digest published by pro-Ukrainian people in the annexed Crimea. Things were really hairy right after the annexation. But there wasn’t a single time when anybody who wrote the digest referred to themselves as the Resistance or used words like “horrific, genocide, extermination,” or anything of the kind.

      It’s weird to me that people who do this embarrassing “I wept for five days and told my kids fascism was coming because the candidate I liked lost” realize that nobody else in the world does this. There’s a lot more serious stuff happening, and nobody is a sobbing wreck because of it. Of course, most of this is a performance but people aren’t self-conscious about performing this kind of thing. In Ukraine, you’d be so ridiculed for this.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. In USSR were they as convinced of nuclear holocaust as adults here were when I was a child?

    Also, a question: for my mother, the apocalyptic mindset was a required way of performing femininity. You had to cry for days about small slights, be terrified of disaster at all times, etc., or you would not be cute / would not be attractive, and therefore would lose financial support. I’ve been accused of being unfeminine many times for having too much sang-froid.


    1. Oh yes. Expected you guys to wipe us out any time. 🙂

      But our model of female behavior doesn’t allow for performances of fragility. The saying I grew up with was, “stop whining, you are a woman. How are you going to give birth if you are so sensitive?” We’ve had a shortage of men for generations and women couldn’t afford to be sensitive.


      1. “our model of female behavior doesn’t allow for performances of fragility”

        Poland is similar (though not as extreme as you describe Ukraine). Being difficult and temperamental (and melancholy for short periods) is part of some versions of traditional femininity here but emotional fragility… no way. And men aren’t as infantilized as in the former USSR I think…


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