Step Up, Society!

Waking up this morning to the news of, yet again, another shooting that has occurred and I am left feeling saddened and ultimately disgusted. Christina Grimmie was innocently shot signing autographs after a performance in Orlando, FL by a crazed fan.

I have grown tired of watching the news and hearing of all these tragedies that are constantly invading society. When I say 'tired" I mean tired in the sense of fed up and disappointed with us as a group of people. I wonder when we will begin to step up and take some accountability for taking care of each other.

In my opinion, it is safe to say that anyone who goes out of the way to gun down another person has some serious mental issues. To be that determined to take the life of another human being, there has to be some sort of disconnect between what is morally right and wrong inside a persons head. I do not believe that someone who is mentally sound goes around shooting and killing innocent people.

With this being said, I also feel as if this is something that can be noticed and recognized in an unwell person before another bystander is wrongfully murdered. This is where family and friends, and all of us as a society, need to learn how to look after each other and educate ourselves on what the symptoms of a mentally unsound individual look like.

As parents, friends, co-workers, and neighbors we all hold a level of responsibility to keep each other safe and make sure we are all 'O.K'. It is not hard to give a simple wave or say "hello" to your neighbor. You never know what kind of conversation will spark after you tear yourself away from your instagram feed to actually interact with another human being face-to-face. You might make someone's day, you might learn something new, you might make a new friend, or you might even possibly save a life.

Sometimes all anyone needs is somebody to talk to.

Someone that shows that they care about you and your well being. Someone to make you feel a little less lonely in this world. If we spent more time communicating in person and less time making sure we have the perfect filter for our photos, maybe, just maybe, we would not be so unhappy and miserable.

The problem, I think, lies in social media. I think facebook, instagram, twitter, whatsapp, etc., are all to blame for this gap in social interaction. Don't get me wrong, I love these sites for what they were made for, however, when abused, which they often are, these sites can be harmful to a persons psyche.

There are many research articles that show the damaging effects of Facebook and other social media sites that increase a persons level of depression and actually causes them to feel more disconnected and ostracized instead of more involved with their friends and families like the sites are intended to do. Science Daily reported that lurking and feeling isolated causes lower self-esteem. They composed a study where participants received no feedback on their Facebook posts whatsoever and the results showed that, "the participants who didn't receive feedback had lower levels of belonging, self-esteem, control, and meaningful existence, and the researchers concluded that passive Facebook participation or feeling ostracized on the social network have a negative impact on users 'well being'".

Now, I am not saying that social media is the cause for the violence in this world and the dozens of recent shootings that we have seen. But, what I am saying, is that if we were not so glued to our phones to see how many likes we have on our pictures of lunch maybe we would notice our friend that is despondent and exhibiting signs of suicide or our co-worker that seems a bit "off" as of late. If we open our eyes a bit more, and we truly listen to each other when we ask, "How are you?", we might just make the world a better and safer place to live. If someone opens up to you and begins to tell you that they are down and struggling mentally, LISTEN, put your phone down and offer your ear, and maybe refer them to the correct place to get help! 

Mental illness is very real and often times effects more than just the person who is actually suffering with the illness. The people effected with mental illness often act outwards violently towards others if not given the proper treatment and care that they need. 

The stigmas that surround mental illness are slowly starting to lift but, many people are still poorly educated on what a mental illness really is and what signs and symptoms they should be looking for in order to recognize if someone is suffering.

Maybe instead of bombarding children with loads of unnecessary math classes and "elective" classes in high school we should utilize a semester to teach them what defines a mental illness and how to help friends, family, and even themselves through difficult times.

When I myself was in treatment, I was blown away by all the cognitive and dialectical behavioral therapy "tools" I was given to help overcome my eating disorder. I took a look at my old folder from when I was at Sharp Mesa Vista four years ago, and as I was browsing through the pages I thought to myself, "Why don't they teach kids this stuff in school!?". Mental illness or not, they are beneficial techniques that can help and individual process thoughts and feelings and make sense of them.

As a society, we would grow up the be healthier and more sound if we learned how to sift through such complicated emotions that we encounter in our day to day lives. We would learn how to recognize the red flags of someone who is clearly unwell, we would learn how to help, or get professional help for someone. We would save a lot of lives if we were not all sitting behind our screens, alone, and pretending that everything fine and dandy, when in fact we have a sick plan to go out an harm another person with an unspeakable act of violence and hate.

Our ignorance and blindness towards one another is a pathetic excuse for our lack of connection and care. Help each other. Life is hard enough. Do not let someone you know suffer silently in pain and misery to the point that they kill themselves and others.

Step up, Society, we are apart of the problem, too, but, we can also be apart of the change!