The Age of Narcissism

A story about the minds of seven teenagers

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1. Eric

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always hated people. I didn’t realize that I hated people until I started high school. It was around that time when I realized how depressingly irritating other people could be. I mean, I always knew people could be irritating but I didn’t realize it was because of that very fact that I constantly felt an uncomfortable urge to scream whenever I found myself in large crowds of people.

    Is that a mental illness or something, or my just simply being an asshole? Probably the latter. People like to make it very clear to me that I am indeed an asshole. A lot of people.

    I am not an evil psychopath or a serial killer in the making. When I say, “I hate people,” I don’t mean to say that I hate every single human being on the planet, individually and specifically. I couldn’t possibly know every single human being on the planet or have a specific reason to hate each one individually, although there are certain individuals that I hate with specific reason. And there are people that I like. But when I say, “I hate people,” I mean that I hate people as a society. People irritate me for the values that they hold and for the morals that they invent for themselves. I despise hypocrisy, and there is no greater hypocrisy that exists than the society.

     Take high school, for example. The school exists to educate people, to teach them how to survive in the real world and how to get jobs. Advocates of education constantly warn us, the youth, that if we don’t stay in school, we will not be successful in life. Don’t be a fool, stay in school, they say.

    But what bullshit they speak. What exactly do we learn in school? We learn how to draw parabolas and hyperbolas, how to calculate the surface area of an apple, how to write a thesis on a Shakespearean play, how to locate the country of Eritrea on a map, and a countless other useless information that we will never need in real life.

    I remember, in my freshman year of high school, I was in my geometry class, sixth period, taught by an incompetent old tool named Mr. Reed. Reed was blabbing about something or other and I was taking a well-deserved nap after suffering trough the entire day of other useless classes. I heard a deep, nagging voice call my name.

    “Eric. Eric Taylor. Wake up!” said Mr. Reed.

    “Huh?” I mumbled, as I rubbed my eyes in annoyance. I heard some of my peers sniggering at me.

    “Perhaps you can solve this equation Mr. Taylor?” Mr. Reed said, flashing that ugly sneer of his, as he directed my attention to whatever bullshit he wrote on the board.

     I stare at it for like ten seconds and reply:

    “I don’t know how to solve it.”

    “Well, perhaps you should pay more attention in class. They don’t give geometry lessons in land of dreams, do they?” Reed said, smugly and triumphantly. As if I gave a shit about this class, teaching a useless subject I’ll never use.

    I hear more sniggering from my idiot peers.

    Ah, yes. The old “shame-a-sleeping-student” routine. I am very familiar with this moment. Teachers always hate it when you fall asleep in class. They claim it’s because they feel they deserve respect. Hilarious. You became a high school teacher to earn respect? You’ve entered the wrong profession. Every teacher entering this profession should come to expect that they will not receive respect, at least not me. Hell, I make it clear every week that I don’t respect my teachers. It is, or at least it should be, a fact that the education system is virtually useless, therefore the teachers themselves are useless. So it can’t be that they do this because they feel disrespected. They do it because when you fall asleep in class, you’ve rendered what they have to say meaningless and irrelevant. By acknowledging that they are, indeed, useless, you’ve taken whatever power they had away from them. They shame you in an attempt to regain such power. At least, that’s the way I see it.

    Come to think of it, isn’t that a form a bullying? And I thought this school was supposed to have a zero tolerance policy on bullying. But that’s pretty typical. The ones in power tell you not to harm others and they think they’ve created a grand old system, so long as they themselves get to continue doing the harm because that’s the only way they know how to control others.

    It is because of this that I hate people, because people are hypocrites. They build a society basically founded on hypocrisy and it pisses me off.

    That’s why I sleep. It is when I sleep that I can ignore this world and all its hypocrisies.

    Even after being called out, I slept throughout the rest of Mr. Reed’s lesson. I honestly wasn’t surprised to get detention. In fact, I welcomed it. In detention, they put you in a cold, emotionless room with all the other rebels and revolutionaries for the crime of rejecting the status quo, whether it be subtly or extremely. It was the only place in this school that I truly felt content, because I didn’t have to face the everyday bullshit.

    I really didn’t have much else to look forward to for the next few years. It was quiet and I could sleep in peace.

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