Did you hear about Elliot Rodgers?
I just learned about him today, and the story only is only day or two old. He was a 22 year old student from Santa Barbara, California, who recently killed 7 people and himself, specifically targeting women. This, in itself, is awful. Every murder/suicide is. But why would he try to target women?
Because he was a lonely virgin.
Now, I never really heard about the Columbine shooting until much later. Even though I was around during the time, I don't remember it having any impact on me whatsoever. Things like that are so beyond an 8-year-old's consciousness that it didn't even register as reality. But for those who understood what happened that day, I can imagine it was similar to what I felt after hearing the story of Elliot.
This kid was beyond messed up. On top of having a vendetta against women for making his college experience miserable because none of them would sleep with him, he made YouTube videos expressing his rage and outlining his plot to kill every girl in a certain sorority house. He had planned this for at least a year, and had even created a 140 pg. manifesto chronicling his life and loneliness in great detail. I watched only the YouTube clips that were put into news stories, and they were terrifying.
It's even scarier that his struggle with loneliness and despair at having girls not like him isn't so different than so many guys, including me. I know the pain of rejection and loneliness. I know what it's like to have girls not return the affection I have for them. But there's an extra detail that I picked up in Elliot's story here that I've never felt, or even really believed in.
This may seem to be a stretch of a connection. But what is the friendzone? It's a metaphorical area that guys are placed in by a girl who they have feelings for, but she does not return. She wants to keep the guy as a friend, but he wants to date her. There are countless internet references to this phenomena, retelling the stories of a poor, quiet kid who really liked this girl, but didn't know how to express it, so he tried doing all these nice things for her and being there for her whenever he can. But the girl never liked the guy, and when he finally gets the nerve to ask her out (which rarely ever happens), she responds, "I'm sorry, but we can still be friends."
I have SO many problems with this, but the first, and biggest, comes from personal experience. In case you didn't know, I'm a fairly quiet person. I was even more so in high school. I was also supremely awkward, which is fairly normal for a kid in high school, but it seemed to be more advanced than others. Anyways, when I first went to Foremost, I developed a crush on the prettiest girl in class. For years, I harboured this crush, trying to be nice to her (along with everyone else, so my affection didn't stick out) and such, but nothing ever came of it. I even gave her valentines (somewhat) anonymously. She was always with the most popular guy in class, with me left standing on the fringes. I always hoped she would tell me that she liked me, but that never happened. So, after far too long of just waiting for nothing, I moved on.
The summer after I did that, I met a girl at camp, we kind of hit it off, and we started dating after we got home (MSN long distance style). It lasted 2 weeks. But it was my first relationship of the dating variety. I wasn't bent on some unattainable goal of forcing a girl to like me. I found someone who liked me because I was me. I feel like so many of the stories on the internet, or even from my friends, about the friendzone, are founded on the inability to move on. If you can't move on, then you can't ever experience something better.
The other big part of the friendzone that drives me nuts is the desire to get close to girls only to date them. Apparently, single guys can't have friends that are girls that they don't have plans to date eventually. The only reason for female companionship is for romance and pleasure. Now, stop me if I'm wrong, but isn't viewing women as objects kind of a bad thing? Because that's what the friendzone does. The goal is to get a date, women are the means to accomplish the goal, and the friendzone is the failure to get that goal. It also supports the belief that nice guys should be entitled to get a girl out of niceness. Girls should just submit to their charm and gentlemanly personality. And that their friendship, which is the sharing of common interests, experiences and trust between two people, is worthless.
Why can't guys just be friends with girls? Why is that such a bad thing? Yes, dating and girlfriends are great, but is it really that much of a let down to end up with a great friend you can rely on, are comfortable with, and do crazy stuff with? If you "end up" with that, consider yourself blessed, because a friend is just as important as a significant other. Heck, they ARE a significant other. You just have less responsibilities.
Elliot had been rejected by (I'm guessing) plenty of girls who weren't interested in him. He felt that they had no reason not to be. Other guys were getting girls, so why shouldn't he? It wasn't fair. Essentially, he had been friendzoned. So he killed a bunch of people and himself because life didn't turn out the way it was supposed to. Not only is that beyond stupid, it's immature. He couldn't deal with the fact that maybe college wasn't going to be a cakewalk of social encounters. Maybe he couldn't deal with the fact that it was his fault girls weren't into him (I mean, a 6 second YouTube clip gave me chills. Imagine what a face-to-face encounter would do to someone). But in his mind, maybe subconsciously, was the idea that friendship was second place; dating was the grand prize. Anything less was failure. So many men have that set deep into their minds. It's what is voiced by the friendzone. And it's what is ruining society, one Elliot Rodgers at a time.
Note: I'm not saying that depressed people just need to move on. Depression is serious. Even sadness can cloud the mind and make us do dumb things, and depression is more the far more amplified medical condition. But the friendzone is unhappiness caused when something doesn't go your way. It's a wimpy excuse used by pouty, entitled people. I doubt Elliot was depressed, because there are physical side effects to that. He was unhappy that he hadn't slept with a girl yet in 22 long years. So I have zero sympathy for his circumstance. My high school experience was a nightmare. But I didn't kill anyone. I didn't even injure anyone, because I knew how to move on and look ahead to a brighter future.