The Umpqua Community College shooting in Oregon makes me angry, and like most people, my first thought is to take any kind of vengeance I can on the person responsible. Since Chris Harper-Mercer is dead, one way is to mock him, his views, and his situation in life.
I could look at his social struggles and laugh that yet another young, shorter (he is 5’9″), video-game playing loser (and likely Omega Male) living with his parents snapped. I could ridicule him for being an angry and creepy outcast who desperately wanted, but couldn’t get, a girlfriend (UPDATE: sure enough, Mercer’s manifesto reveals his girlfriend woes).
My twitter and Facebook feeds are ablaze with self-righteous men and women pointing out how pathetic and creepy he was, as they analyze and mock every single thing he posted on the internet, looking for anything they can mock and rage against that strikes them as weird or out of agreement with their own political, religious, and philosophical views.
But, isn’t that kind of treatment what helped make Chris Harper-Mercer the guy he was in the first place? Or even if he was legitimately mentally is (which is likely), is that the way you help another human being in that state?
There are a lot of young, frustrated men out there. They have been given very few social tools to function effectively in the real world. They “live” in fantasy worlds, whether it is a video game reality or as a “big shot” on a particular subreddit or internet forum, which has little relevance or connection to the physical world around them.
They have very little positive masculinity in their lives. Their dads are absent, or perhaps the type of dads who are never home, because they would rather work all day than stand up to their wives’ constant put downs or passive-aggressive behavior. Or, their dads are physically and emotionally violent, and prone to random outbursts of rage, which they take out on their wives and kids.
Like other human beings, these frustrated dudes have a strong basic need to be admired by others, and for a romantic relationship. Because of their total social cluelessness, they are always passed over for the fewer and fewer guys their age that actually are in shape and charming. It seems insulting to these guys that a football player who is failing half his classes can have ten girls pursuing him, while these frustrated guys have messaged ten girls and have gotten blocked or ridiculed for their (albeit awkward) attempts.
And, these guys believe the bad advice given to them regarding developing romantic relationships with women. They continue to “just be themselves” and they are met with “ew, you’re creepy” comments from women and ostracism and possibly even physical bullying from other guys. So, their friends and relatives say, “keep being yourself and a good girl will come around!” even though no girl has ever come around them voluntarily while they were “being themselves.”
So, when their most basic desire isn’t met, they become lonely. They become depressed. They become angry. They are told to express their emotions. When they finally express this sadness or anger to anybody who will listen (possibly over the Internet), their feelings are once again dismissed and mocked. “Just suck it up!” “Oh, male tears; that’s hilarious,” “No guy is owed a woman; you’re a creeper!” “Dude, quit being such a pussy.”
And then they start looking around for answers, because the lack of empathy and worthless advice from friends, family, and strangers has made them even more sad, angry, and lonely. And they often find “answers” in the darkest places. Places that encourage violence and hatred.
Most guys likely create yet another fantasy world around these places, and don’t actually do anything violent in real life. The only victim is themselves, as they go deeper and deeper into a horrible emotional place, hopefully to snap out of it at some point and realize what a bad existence being in a place of hatred and anger really is.
However, some guys do take it to the real world. And, the result is often horrific.
And then, after they act out, we dismiss, judge, mock, ridicule, and bully them all over again.
I am not defending the behavior of these types of guys. I am not even saying a woman should ever be forced to date or even hang out with a guy who creeps them out.
What I am saying is that we need to start having some compassion for frustrated young guys, and instead of dismissing and mocking their situations in life, actually reach out to them and help them, both emotionally and socially.
Baby boys aren’t born wanting to join ISIS, kill their co-workers, or shoot up Christians at a community college. Next time you mock or make fun of that awkward and lonely guy no woman would date, or no guy will befriend, maybe ask yourself what you can do to help him become a better person, even if it is simply showing a little compassion when the rest of the world is judging him.
I suspect most people will just continue ridiculing, mocking, and bullying, because that seems to be what humans seem to do. I’m sure some people will even get on me for suggesting a guy like Chris Harper-Mercer even deserved some compassion in life.