Lost Boys: How Societal Pressures Can Ruin Lives
On May 14, 2022, 18-year-old college dropout Payton Gendron opened fire at a Buffalo supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood, killing 10 black people and injuring three others. All of that he did for one purpose: to defend the white race.
From childhood until that moment, Grendon was your typical American white kid. He spent most of his days in front of a screen, playing video games and watching movies. He particularly loved science movies as he has a passion for nature. In fact, Grendon was happiest when he was in the woods. Unfortunately, however, the greater part of his life was spent playing video games, which made him feel like he wasn't accomplishing anything significant in the real world.
Things went bleaker for Grendon when the pandemic struck, and every one was compelled to stay indoors for several months. Forced to waste his days in front of a screen, he was bored out of his mind. It seemed like he was living for nothing.
While browsing the internet one day, Grendon came across the "great replacement theory," a white nationalist conspiracy theory that falsely warns that whites are getting replaced by coloreds, refugees, and immigrants.
This could be his purpose: to protect the whites and prevent the blacks from taking over. In his depth of loneliness, he found something to believe in, to live for. And when he witnessed the video of a man opening fire on Muslim worshippers, he realized a way to act on his beliefs, to make a change, to accomplish something significant in the real world.
And that was how ten black people died at the hands of 18-year-old Payton Gendron on the same day.
What can we take from all of this?
It's a cause-and-effect situation.
The cause: societal issues and expectations (that whites are getting systematically replaced in their own land, and steps must be taken to prevent that)
The effect: a young boy, out of loneliness, finds purpose in the cause and commits a horrifying act.
On raiding the kid's room after the genocide, the FBI discovered a receipt for a candy bar purchased from that same supermarket two months before the massacre. There were also sketches of the supermarket, and he noted down how many black and white people were present at the supermarket. Clearly, the shooting was premeditated rather than an emotional/psychological outburst or a whim in the heat of the moment.
Gendron may have acted alone, but many young people out there are possibly influenced by the same racism and bigotry that inspired him.
We can see that such racist hate and bigotry are rising in society. For example, violent and racist rhetoric during the Donald Trump presidency gave more white supremacists the confidence to air their racist opinions openly. And more young people are revved up by the things they hear and see.
Unless countermeasures are taken, the Buffalo mass shooting will not be the last. Just as society systematically pressures young people into a particular thought process, the public, media houses, and online forums must speak up and inform these young ones of what's truly right and wrong.