Sunday, May 25, 2014

Elliot Rodger and Our Sense of Entitlement

I don't normally post opinions on social topics, news, politics... But this most recent shooting rampage has me thinking about cause and effect. It has me thinking about the entitlement complex we've been instilling in our children for the past few generations and how it's changing our world. 

Elliot Rodger, an individual who obviously had untended mental health issues, was tipped over the edge because of his overblown sense of entitlement. He felt entitled to receive the attentions of the most attractive women on campus and after numerous rejections he went batshit crazy. Instead of taking the normal route and maybe, say, reevaluating his approach and mannerisms or simply lowering his standards a few notches, he persisted time and again in the same way never understanding why on earth these women weren't tearing their panties off for him. Never comprehending it might be because there was something unsatisfactory about himself or his ability to choose whose affections to court.

What happens when we give every child a trophy instead of just the winners? When every child gets a medal just for rolling out of bed and showing up? They feel entitled to a trophy. Without putting in extra hours training to be faster, practicing skills to become exemplary, they're still told that they're awesome and special when in reality they are simply average. Don't get me wrong, average is absolutely fine. I'm average. Hell, I was shitty at most sports but I knew it because I didn't get a trophy just for showing up on the field. 

When every kid is handed a trophy for doing nothing they learn they don't have to make adjustments, try harder, do better, change their behavior, because there is no need to acknowledge their faults. 

I still shudder thinking back on dodge-ball in elementary school. Dodge-ball was cruel and unusual punishment but being smacked in the face by a ball thrown by a classmate prepared me for being smacked in the face by life when I grew up. 

We force this sense of entitlement down our kids' throats and then when they get to high school or college or the real world they are completely unprepared for the reality that most of them won't get whatever they want simply for wanting it. They won't be the best or attain the best in most areas of their lives even if they're dedicated and hard working. 

I participated in competitive cheerleader until reaching high school and my team lost more than won. It was devastating, it was humiliating, it was heartbreaking. It was also motivation. We didn't come home with a trophy or a ribbon or a medal if we hadn't won or placed. We came home with a hunger to work harder and do better the next time. When we won and finally placed our hands on a coveted plastic monstrosity of a trophy it was like an out of body, euphoric experience. 

I competed in rodeos and barrel racing events all over the tri-state area for close to ten years. I rarely won or placed but when I did it was magic. The other girls were prettier, their horses bigger or more expensive or professionally trained. Sure, I begrudged them their success at times and, though I wanted to be in their league,3 I knew the chance of that happening was nil no matter how hard I trained. 

I'm not saying this tendency to shield our children from life's struggles and protect them from the heartbreak of walking away from a challenge empty handed is at fault for all the bastards out there shooting up our schools and workplaces and malls. There is something inside those people not wired correctly from the start. However, there's also a reason so many people feel entitled to this type of revenge. It's a combination of multiple factors throughout a lifetime, surely. 

Are we making things worse by being so overprotective of our children?