Apparently the FBI has just released a report on mass shootings, covering the last fourteen years. According to the news reports I’ve seen, for the first seven years, “mass” shooting incidents in the United States hovered around and averaged six per year, while over the last seven, they’ve averaged sixteen per year. While correlation does not prove causation, it is interesting to note that the increase in mass shootings does track rather closely the Great Recession from which we have not yet fully emerged. That is, business profits, dividends, and executive compensation have more than recovered, but employment and the salaries and earnings of everyone else have not. Theoretically, inflation has only increased by something like 18% over the last seven years, but for a large percentage of American workers, wages and salaries have not kept pace, and many are making far less than they did seven years ago. Many of those fortunate enough to hold their income levels or even get modest increases are faced with far heavier workloads… with no apparent relief in sight.
Another source of frustration, or pressure, if not both, is our “everyone-is-available-all-the-time” electronic communications system, where bosses and colleagues seem to want continual answers and updates.
Then there are the feelings of discrimination… and, no matter what anyone claims, racial, sexual, gender, and economic discrimination do exist. Add to that the feeling that the discrimination has gone on long enough, and that fuels anger even more.
There’s also another form of discrimination that is on the rise – and that’s the preference by employers for credentials, such as degrees, rather than experience or actual ability to do the job. Credentials don’t always mean ability, but any employer who picks greater ability with lower official credentials over “higher” credentials risks a lawsuit… and that’s frustration for both those with greater real-world ability and for perceptive employers.
Another source of frustration, I’m convinced, is the increasing tendency of American society, and perhaps many other more societies, to focus on instant gratification. The problem there is that some things cannot be obtained “instantly.” Fast food, instant internet access to entertainment of choice, overnight deliveries of goods – those are possible. Obtaining the skills to be a successful doctor, engineer, classical singer or pianist, or even a professional athlete takes time and a great deal of just plain hard work. Too many young people have never had the experience of learning through hard work, especially for any length of time… and all too many get frustrated when finally confronted with that necessity and they’re told that their efforts and their level of achievement are not yet acceptable. A significant percentage get angry, as if it’s the fault of the employer or the college professor that they can’t instantly master the skill in question… and some actually place all the blame on employer or professor.
Then add the growing and often crushing burden of student debt for recent college and professional graduates, some of whom can’t find jobs with enough pay to cover their loan payments.
Now…obviously, most people who feel these sorts of frustrations, and others I haven’t even touched on, don’t go out and shoot people, but I suspect that there are hundreds, if not thousands who’ve wished they could.