There were some reports last week in the print and web media with regard to the release of documents seized during the investigation of the killings at Columbine high school about 5 years ago. Mainly the reports were short and 3rd or 4th order stories.
The interesting aspect for me was the various spins the media outlets put on the documents.
This was CNN, this is the telegraph, it didn't even make the web version of the Irish times and the indo used a truncated version of the telegraph story.
The Daily telegraph and CNN seemed to emphasis the liking for Doom, Charles Manson and the hateful nature of the vast bulk of the writings. The noticeable byu minor difference with the Irish Times piece was, though it was broadly similar, that you got a feeling that while their reaction to their situation in school was wildly off the scale that the situation they were in wasn't and probably isn't all that unusual. They were regarded as outsiders by the 'cool' kids and disregarded for the various collective school activities that go to make up such a large part of a teenagers world. Which parties you're invited to, who you can talk to at lunch and so on. All rather meaningless until you realise that such events were their entire world.
What I noted in paricular in the The Irish Times were references to letters and notes one of the killers had written about how the popular kids excluded them or how one of them had sent a note to girl asking her out and but hedged it by saying it was ok to say no as he'd heard it lots of things before.
Part of what distinguishes adult and childish behaviour is that as an adult you are aware that not every thing is as it seems. The girl in the class with the bad hair, and bad clothes may well be living with parents who are separating or a family friend may be abusing her. The boy with the mood swings may have a sick relative. You learn through personal experience not to judge so easily, and it becomes increasely annoying to find someone who continues to operate in such a manner. It is possible to see how transparent their thinking is 'You're cool, I'll talk to you, I need something from that person, I'll be chatty to them today. Can't see what I'll ever need from her, I'll just ignore her. '
Now there an slight element in all these annoyance of thinking 'who are they to judge' which seems at times to suggest that they aren't to judge but there may be other people who can or you can yourself can judge others. Of course if you've come to realise that judging people is wrong then it is even more annoying to be nudged back down the road of judging others again.
After Columbine so much of the focus of interest was on the so called weird kids, those who were different clothes or liked non-mainstream music, well non mainstream for that area. Yet it occurred to almost no one to wonder if the way the school organises itself contributes(not that it is to blame, mind) but contributes to making some people suffer more through their teenage years than is necessary. Most people but not all learn that diversity is a part of the nature order, people have diffferent skills, strengths and interests. That difference isn't a bad thing. In fact in the longer term it is a decidedly good thing. So, I wonder why would people who know better tolerate such division when they see it around them? I mentioned the example of Carrie in a previous post, and I've often wondered was part of the power of the story that what she did at the end was understandable to a great many more people that we'd like to admit. And that given the opportunity we'd all like to have retribution.
One last thing, with teenagers it is probably the ones that are superficially the most regular looking that are storing up the biggest problems. So, watch out for that child of the minor authority figure who thinks they're a rebel. Especially, if they have issues about their height and their hair.
PS the title comes from a recurring phrase in some of their writings.