"The Sterling Silver Lining in a School Cafeteria Shooting"
By: Thomas A. Scilipoti
Fifteen minutes into the 2010 feature film, “The Social Network”—which was based primarily on first hand source material that chronicled the exponential and unprecedented growth of an innovative Ivy league-bred concept to an eighty billion dollar information superhighway which thirteen percent of the world’s population now frequents, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg finds himself in a little locked room surrounded by a stone cold serious disciplinary review panel. Facing expulsion after a website (facesmash.com) he created while drunk in his dorm room that allowed students to rate female students’ “talent” generated 22,000 hits and caused Harvard’s so-called “state of the art” internet server to crash overnight, Zuckerburg plays back at Harvard’s head of security who assures him of the sophistication and prowess of Harvard’s current cyber-security system.
“In fact it was precisely this sophisticated system that led you to us in four hours” Spoke the head of security.
“Four hours?” Countered Zuckerburg. “Four hours? That would be mildly impressive, were it not for the fact that had you known what you were looking for, you would've found it plastered on my dorm room window!”
One fortnight ago, roughly four hours after Perry Hall High School sophomore Bobby Gladden updated his Facebook status with the following information “First day of school, last day of my life. t(~-~t) fuck the world!”, a 17 year old and beloved senior with special needs was shot in the cafeteria of his school with a shotgun. Daniel Borowy didn't die on impact of the bullet but was in very critical condition for the fortnight that followed it.
Baltimore County Police did not identify the assailant the day of the shooting. They responded shortly after guidance counselor Jesse Wasmer had tackled and, with a little help from his friends— disarmed, captured and held the shooter in GI Joe/Jane kung-fu grips. The BC police then got in the standard victory formation, took a knee, noted their swift response to a school shooting and repeatedly used the words "community" "prayers" "tragedy" while telling the press that they were not going to reveal the identity of the gunmen at this moment.
Howeva, we live in post-social media explosion world and I was able to glean all the information I needed to prematurely identify the first school shooter in Maryland history as a one, Bobby “My last name makes it even more ironic” Gladden. Why? Because I visited his FB page following a little tip from a fellow pisan via the Feed and quickly spotted the ingredients for a school shooting plastered all over his Facebook wall, sampled here.
Bobby honestly had me at “I won’t say hello, I’ll just use my long, greasy hair, pale, wan and forlorn pose to express my insatiable rage for anyone, any thing, any place that bears any resemblance to anything that is not strictly of the Death Metal/Chuck Manson genre.
And I don’t want to be accused of “School Shooter Facial Profiling” in case I intend to run for office on the Democratic ticket, howeva, in a line-up of recent domestic scarer-ists the metaphoric black glove does indeed fit.
Look at these assholes
and this `` well-adjusted Hitler youth, alongside these winners.
Add this glamour shot.
Does your intuition that Bobby Gladden, unlike his predecessors, would not be profiled as potential suspects if a student had opened fire in your school? It doesn't unless you're a complete moron moonlighting as a dumbass.
Dark and mysterious is sometimes an angle that somewhat well-adjusted people use to attract potential mates but this dark, this mysterious, this visibly eerie is an angle that only attracts overwhelmingly holistic discomfort, immediate suspicion, and instant red Sirens to anyone with a spec of intuitive and or common (aka pragmatic) sense can feel instantaneously upon arrival on his Facebook page. Mostly "like"ly his circle of friends were also self-described "Metal heads, that’s about it" whose mutual "like" of the likes of Cradle of Filth, Charles Manson and or Dethklok comprised a filthy pool of not so traditional nerds but the kind of crowd South park portrayed so vivid and precisely as the "goth kids" when Stan decides to join their circle of absent sunlight shortly after Wendy dumps him. [i] Therefore, his final status before he walked into his cafeteria with a shotgun and opened fire on a student with special needs could've and most likely've been construed by his fellow knuckleheads as an attempt at poetry indicative of his melancholy and infinite sadness AND NOTHING MORE.
However, after looking at the nine Facebook friends he added last week, I see a few heads who, upon my first impression of their profile picks, at least seem receptive to intuitive sense, mostly-likely grounded by decent parents and don’t agree with their new FB friend that the song titled, “I smoke crack and fuck Peanut Butter Sandwiches” is, as Gladden put it five days prior to his “alleged” shooting, “the best song ever” as judging by the posts’ zero likes, comments, and my own intuition after reading the title and being well-versed in the likes of the Beatles, Dave Matthews Band, and Motown.
Yet despite having Facebook friends most likely outside the “Death Metal Tool Box”--Twelve people had not yet to de-friend him as of 8PM, one week after the shooting! Despite listing “Murder Suicide at the Manson Family” as his “work” to supplement his 24 likes, 19 related to the “Death or Extreme Metal” genre by my Wikipedia search. Despite his most recent status update, which says essentially, to someone fluent in subtext, “I’m going to school today. This will be the last day of my life, he he. I won’t do anything crazy today….or will I? he he he FUCK THE WORLD!” Danny Gladden was free to pull a shotgun out in the cafeteria and choo-choo-choose a special needs student to open fire on.
Why? That’s ultimately the most important, constructive question. It's also the most commonly asked question that always follows these depressingly more frequent incidents.
The "omniscient" community of interpretation will inevitably transpire on what triggered this gross monstrosity. Latte sipping liberals with a strong chance of having a hyphenated name but a far less greater chance of possessing a working, empirically-based understanding of human nature and criminal minds, will blame loose gun control laws. Sociologists, soccer moms, and other pseudo-experts will blame various societal factors.
“It was Marilyn and the heroin! Where were the parents at?” Says every suburban soccer mom ever.
“No, it was the quarterback of the football team’s occasional Mitch Kremer quips that ultimately led to the attempted assassination of a special needs student.” Says the tenured administrator who was also can sympathize with young Bobby's negative but formative experiences with the Alpha Dawgs in Varsity Lettered-jackets.
“No you listen up you guinea pigs for my presidential bid in 2016 I mean, people of Maryland. It was a lack of tax payer funded sensitivity awareness and reinforcement training seminars, the systemic “survival of the fittest social food chain” model that plagues our school communities who also suffer from a lack of diversity by not offering enough participation trophies for our every member of our team and, especially the ones who rock D+ averages, trenchcoats, boatloads of existential angst, and the anthology of Death Metal to prove it. Our thoughts are prayers are with the entire community of Perry Hall, the steady hands of our police officers who promptly responded to a 911 call reporting a school shooting and quickly evacuated the students in addition to apprehending the suspect after a teacher and guidance counselor had him restrained.” Says local politician Tommy Carcetti.
But if the powers that be really, really wanna make its students safer, especially with the vast treasury of information not so easily accessible before the social media revolution at their disposal, teach students how to spot signs of the onset of a mental illness! Link them up with succinct but fact intensive resources revolving around abnormal psychiatry and the features of psychological deterioration. School them, quiz them, make sure they can accurately identify language that screams red sirens-- that signals clear and present danger because that’s the only kind of interpersonal awareness that feasibly could’ve kept Bobby "Suicidal Smile" Sadden from being able to draw his weapon of class destruction, four hours after essentially calling his shot on the social network.
Facebook is in, addition to its colossal, addictive and often annoying features, a public diary/record. Your Facebook friends develop personas by the type of information they post, the pictures they share and the frequency by which they engage the feed. And I have empirical evidence from my own experience that it doesn’t take a doctorate in psychology, gift of clairvoyance or years of foreign language training to see seismic shifts in a Facebook friend during a period of psychological deterioration/despair.
Facebook friends of Bobby Gladden who saw his cryptic post before gunshots were fired in your cafeteria: don’t assume responsibility for the gunshot. We can play the blame game into infinite regression and you did not open fire. But feel very guilty about not seeing the ingredients for a suicide and or additionally dangerous deeds at the very least, plastered on your Facebook friend's wall and keeping it private. Yes I have seen Goodfellas and I’ve heard that snitches do get stitches but, when it comes to disclosing information that will potentially save a life and avert a profound tragedy for many others, that it is not narcing! And if that’s ratting on your friends, call me Master Splinter cuz I’m the biggest rat you’ll ever see.
Cell phones came out in vast array after the shooting. I've taught at fifteen different schools in Maryland and, if a student at Perry Hall were to tell me that absolutely no one saw this post "First day of school, last day of my life. t(~-~t) fuck the world!” in a four hour window, I'd counter with "spare me". Many cell phones, especially the cool smart phones have a Facebook app. Clearly, the dude’s not a prom king but he had twelve Facebook friends as of seven days after everyone in his school knew he tried to whack a rising senior with a huge heart and some special needs, particularly the need not to get a bullet in his chest during his lunch break!
I understand Bobby Gladden's family life wasn't picturesque. Shocker! And trust me, I don't place sole responsibility for this tragic sequence of events on a fifteen year old boy with a broken home. Maybe the twelve non de-frienders want to stay in communication with Bobby when he goes to jail and it's not my place to throw stones at that play because obviously they see something redeeming in him that I cannot by virtue of not knowing him on a personal level. But I've been defriended for a lot less than attempted murder and his small but tangible group of Facebook friends were either too dumb, too apathetic or too quiet to even bring his most recent status update in the backdrop of his very dark, mostly sinister and fairly recent FB page to the attention of even one person entrusted to ensure a safe, peaceful learning environment for 2200 plus students ! And that makes Daniel Borowy's last two weeks in critical condition especially tragic.
A Ray Lewis, black and purple badge of toughness and perseverance should go to Mr. Borowy and the Sully Sullenberger medal of grace under pressure should go to Mr. Jesse Wasmer who kept the speeding bullet count at one. And I'd "like" to give all of Bobby "Suicidal Smile"' Gladden's FB friends a participation trophy each…but they really showed me nothing that warranted it.
On footnote, the Baltimore Sun reported that Daniel Borowy was released from Shock Trauma yesterday [ii] and I bohlieve that the resilient lad will polish off his remaining credits, walk across the stage, shake his principal's hand and claim his rightful prize in late spring of 2013. But this Thomas seriously doubts Bobby Gladden will be "checking in" at this magnificent occasion.