I am feeling disturbed lately. In fact, I had trouble sleeping last night.
It started with the horrific shootings at Virginia Tech. My thoughts go out to all the families that lost their loved ones and to the students who’s world may never be the same. I wrote about the positive use of Web 2.0 for college students to share stories and get support from their online communities. But I was left with a terrible feeling about how things were being twisted around.
The shooter may have been introverted and lonely, but nothing gives one person a reason to injure others… The best revenge is working hard in college and getting a great job – SUCCEEDING IN LIFE!. Many introverted lonely people in college go on to become successful adults.
The shooter needed professional help, no one should hold him up as the “lonely guy” martyr. And (hmm hmm mainstream media) no one should publish the pictures he sent to NBC of him brandishing guns. I almost spit out my coffee when I saw my young boys looking at that picture this morning.
The New York Times article “Online, Students Say “Reach Out to Loners” pointed out an interesting force moving through the social networking scene. In response to the Virginia Tech shootings, a campaign is taking place in the social networking software called Facebook:
“Soon after the founding of the “IM GONNA TALK & REACH OUT (TO EVERY LONER)” board (in Facebook),
someone hastily posted a meek note: “But how do you talk to someone
like dat… leave sum advice….” There was no reply.“
Author Brenda Peterson wrote a post that brought up a similar issue called Could Reaching Out Save Our Lives?
She talks about her niece from Virigina Tech, who had concerns about a
fellow student they called Question Mark (who also had a restraining
order filed against him from another girl):
“Did you ever talk to him?” I asked.
“He never talked … ” Charlotte fell silent a long while. “I just
… well, we all just … laughed at him, even with him there. But
something must have registered, because even before they released his
identity, I was e-mailing a British Lit classmate and we were asking,
‘You think the shooter was Question Mark?‘ “
have been fascinated reading the (public) myspace and livejournal entries from
students on their feelings and emotions. This is the first time I have
had a glimpse of what a modern day college student thinks, or at least
the ones that have social networking sites (virginia tech student myspace, Livejournal goodluckfox “Troubled Loners” for example).
A movement that supports fellow students treating each other in a friendly manner and with respect is positive. But the
loner campaign can be dangerous because it does not deal with the bigger issues. Here are my thoughts on those issues coming from a mother’s
- Children/teens/college students need help with learning how to interact in social situations. This is not directed
at other parents or school administrators, I feel the system is broken
and it needs to be fixed.
- That need for help starts even in preschool, but the classrooms are usually
smaller so teachers can help the students learn the proper social
skills in conjunction with the parents help at home.
- Kids are thrown into challenging social situations starting in
elementarty school. As the kids get older, the social situations get
even more challenging. There is no specific class on social interaction, and school resources are only avaliable to those with
- Some students may think that going for help from a mental health professional is not cool. Well, let’s make it cool and say that asking for help is a SIGN OF STRENGTH, not weakness.
One suggestion for helping find social outlets in the college level
is to make sure each student gets
assistance in associating themselves with a (live) campus group. Then
online social networking can be something that fills in the gaps and an
avenue for creative expression. I still caution students not to publish
personal information on any
online social networking site, even if the groups are labeled private.
But doesn’t every child/teen/college student need support navigating social
situations? Some may even need professional help, and that should start
at an early age. But what are the signs and how do you get help?
don’t know what the solution is, I just know it is a problem that is
not going away anytime soon.
Related information on Facebook: