"I was in exactly the same position as these kids throughout my elementary school, junior high and high school years. I had an abundance of intelligence, curiosity and computer skills, but my social skills were sadly lacking. I was somewhat of an outcast until I reached puberty, when I was fortunately, blessed with better-than-average athletic ability, which saved me from being a target of daily ridicule. I am curious about what would have happened if the situation had been reversed. What if the school's most popular athlete had gone on a shooting rampage, killing the school's social outcasts? How do you think the media would have handled it differently?"---T.T. (Original Comment #1)
"Throughout my years in the public school system, I have seen much of the spectrum of pressure and abuse which the individuals in the school culture are subjected to. Although I have no formal credentials, I feel that my 3-3/4 years in high school qualify me to at least dispense some advice to those who feel alienated by the system. I can summarize this advice with two main points: Learn how to work the system. Fuck the system. Wow, pretty contradictory, eh? The system is all around us in our culture. It is all about rules, controls, checks and balances. This system is implemented by the powers that be to keep things running smoothly. Powers fear change, and therefore need the system to ensure that everything runs according to the plan. As an individualist, you have probably already dismissed the plan. You have probably already recognized its shortcomings and weaknesses, which is why you have chosen to branch off from it, rather than try to conform to the expected norm."
"I feel that this is a good thing, but you must realize that, because the powers fear change, they will resist you. They will try to force you into the system. They will become frustrated, and you will become angry. You may be branded as an "outsider" or "troublemaker". This is not a good thing. You cannot simply go against the system. The system is like a fast moving river, and you are stranded somewhere along it. The current tries to push you in a certain direction. If you try to fight the current, you will lose the battle, and be swept away nonetheless. What you must learn to do is work the system, the current. No one is asking you to go where the stream pushes you, but by watching how the water flows, and observing and learning its patterns and behaviors, you can use the current to take you where you want to go. As it is in the system. If you fight the system head-on, you will fall. Its not fair, but that's the away it works. What you need to do is look at how the rules of the system work, and learn to use, manipulate, and bend these rules to get you where you want to go. Don't reject the system outright, but rather use its power to your own advantage. Don't let it change who you are, but rather find a way to make the system work with you."
"You will need patience. The system doesn't always let you move where you want to immediately. You must learn that, if you move in the right way, at the right time, you can go where you want to through the system. Attaining a harmony with the system, but not letting it control you, is the path to success. Ever see "The Matrix?" Kinda like that, only without having to jab a probe through your brain. So how do you make it through the system without becoming a drone? That's where the other point comes in: fuck it. No, I don't mean literally. You must also see that, despite the power of the system within the mainstream society, it is not omnipresent. You must be able to "escape" the system every now and then. By reaching out and finding a peer group of people who are "on your level" and have also learned to see the system, you let yourself exist on an interpersonal basis in an environment free of the rules of the system. The Internet is a great forum for this, as the deliberate environment of agreed anarchy precludes the intervention of the system. A warning though, don't let it become all-consuming. Don't let the Internet take the place of real intra-personal relationships, or the real-world skills that help you navigate the system will soon begin to decay. Once I made this realization, life suddenly became so much easier for me. I am still learning the rules, but the more I know about the system, the more I can manipulate it to my own ends as a nonconformist. You'd be surprised how often the powers can look past your individualism so long as they can't detect a threat to the system. In summary: The system is there. You can't stop it by fighting it. Don't give up your individualism. Learn how to work and use the system, and you will rise above it. Keep a few good friends, with whom you can relax outside of the system. Be yourself. Of course, that's just my opinion, I could be wrong."---A.S. (Original Comment #2)
"Green sun, Purple sky
Green sun, Purple sky
Is this the way
A body feels to die?
My heart is dark
Lurking in the park
Looking for a victim
Like a wounded shark.
The stars are crazy
The moon's insane
Do you know how to stop?
I was sad,
I was mad,
I don't remember
How it feels to be glad.
Is this the way a body feels
When you're called a liar?
This is how we feel
And we don't care why. ---A." (Original Comment #3)
"I was the smart guy (Valedictorian) and the jock (2 sport letterman) but never really fit in anywhere. I ran with the "clean cut kids" but am not in touch with a single one today. I never was invited to a party and, being a Christian, wasn't really accepted by the geek crowd either as they typically bought into a very secular brand of intellectualism which they pitted against my own. Any friendships I had there were ones that didn't get too deep. All my good friends I made in college. I found my identity in Christ and with my youth group. It hurts not to be accepted by those whom everyone else seems to admire. I suppose I was blessed with the ability to see behind the smiles and, in their eyes, see how much they were hurting too. The pace and happy-go-lucky act was their mask. Don't buy it. They lash out at you because they know deep down they have bought a lie and you being different from the main crowd, in whatever way, reminds them of that. Just don't let rage win out. Hang in there and find your identity and don't worry about the crowd. One or two or three good friends are worth more than the favor of the popular establishment. Good luck and God Bless." ---B. (Original Comment #4)
"Everyone is wondering 'why' but ask the jocks and the other popular kids - they know. I've seen them on CNN, CBC and 60 Minutes. They talk about how brave they were and how strange the killers were and how they figured something like this was going to happen. But not one reporter asked the one question that would have been my first (as a former children's mental health worker). "Did any of you pick on or humiliate these guys?" I'm willing to bet none of them would have put up their hands, which is a lie. Why would they lie about this? They know exactly how cruel and humiliating they were to these two, and they know if they admit it they will get the blame they deserve. So why not lie...the media and the other adults are blaming Doom and the Internet and Marilyn Manson anyway. They might as well continue to look like the victims and get all the attention; after all, they didn't get to be cool and popular kids by telling the truth (especially to adults in authority). I don't condone killing, considering the kind of society we foster in our high schools (especially more rural schools), this does not surprise me at all. I wonder what took so long. I can sure understand WHY they did what they did...and so can all those jocks that abused them. "Evil Flourishes when good men do nothing." ---J.C. (Original Comment #5)
"Think about it: Now nonconformist students are getting hell not only from their peers, but from administrators as well. Pressure from students has already made enough emotionally disturbed kids snap, so what is pressure from the officials going to do? Right. More of the kids who were borderline to begin with are going to be pushed just a tad too far. The results? Littleton all over again. On a personal note, I only spent a year in high school-I was fortunate enough to go to college early. But one year is more than anybody should be forced to endure, and I fantasized often about reaching into a tormentor's chest and ripping out his beating heart. Life isn't just better in the real world, it's FAN-FUCKING-TASTIC!"---S.S. (Original Comment #6)
"It's four in the morning and I can't sleep. It's a week after Columbine shootings, and for the first time since the incident, I'm crying. It has nothing to do with the fact that this tragedy occurred in the city where I live. Even a week ago as I watched the events unfold on live TV, I felt no more affected by this school shooting than I had by any of the others around the country in recent years. Tragic, yes. Horrific, sure. Appalling, of course. But nothing about them touched me personally. Including this one. Until now. A week ago my husband and I traded stories of our own high school years, the torment and the pain of being outcasts. I tentatively admitted my own fear for all those other misfit kids, wondering how much unwarranted suspicion would now be turned on them. I didn't dare say my opinion too loudly. I was afraid people would misunderstand. I thought I was alone in feeling this way. I'm crying now because I see how mistaken I was. I've learned that I'm not all alone, but that the loneliness and alienation of countless others like me are far greater than I could have imagined, and that the suspicion and persecution promise only to make it more so by cutting them off from one another. My husband printed out the "geek profiling" column for me, and after reading it I knew I had to join this forum just to add my reply. I had been afraid no one would share my opinion. I now learn that in just one day, this article has received hundreds of responses, horror stories from young people whose rights and dignity are being stripped away because of the games they play and the clothes they wear. My heart is breaking. These children are me."
"My thoughts go out to Becky and Lisa and Paul and Gavin and Larry and all the other old friends I've long since lost touch with. I wonder if they're thinking of our high school days too. Sometimes knowing we could depend on one another was the only thing that made life bearable for us. We never got into trouble, never even partied. The wildest thing we were likely to do was stay out late drinking coffee at an all-night restaurant. But whenever someone received a crank phone call or a threatening note (the worst offenses I recall ever happening then), suspicion was turned on us, never mind the evidence to the contrary. We heard the rumors, the laughing and jeering in the halls. We were called freaks, weirdos and witches. We sometimes jokingly referred to ourselves as the "lunatic fringe." No one ever called us killers. I don't know what to think. I don't know what to do. I feel so angry and so helpless. I want to scream and shake all these so-called authorities until they come to their senses and realize how badly they are hurting all these young people who hurt so much already. I want to reach out to these kids and let them know that some of us adults remember and understand what it's like to be feared, hated and falsely accused just for being different. I want to be able to tell them that there's a light at the end of the twisted tunnel that is high school - that there is more to life out there, and that there is hope. But in the face of this hysteria, I don't know if I believe that myself." ---K.L.S. (Original Comment #7)