You can always tell the mass shootings are never going to end when you read the comments sections on these news stories and see more “conservatives” whose only emotions are anger and hate, screaming at everybody about how everything is communism and mocking people’s grief.

Throw a rock and you’ll hit the next terminally online mass murderer. Odds are, they’re logged on right now.

They’re your neighbors. Your acquaintances. Your co-workers. The ones you assume are just being dramatic when they go off about immigrants or vaccines or China.

And they’re not going to stop.

Because this country is in a slow and steady burn toward total collapse. Decades of fervent belief in American exceptionalism, an onslaught of disinformation on the internet, an outrage-industrial complex in the form of mass media, a government that does practically nothing but hoard wealth, and a culture that teaches a certain demographic of men to respond to everything with aggression and violence are all to blame.

Oh, and the ocean of guns, of course; most of which seem to be getting acquired by those most ideologically prone to committing mass shootings in the first place. But I’ll believe anything is ever going to get done about that when I see it, given 1/2 of our government immediately starts screaming about the 1st amendment the second this happens while the other acts like their hands are tied constantly, and only a divided minority of liberals, leftists and so-called “libertarians” seem to realize we’re probably past the point of a pacifist solution. Is now the time to be letting the mass shooters and militarized police who buy them Burger King in between killing black preteens for no reason have all the guns? Seems as crazy to me as the notion of un-inventing them. Or the notion that the “good guys with guns” are right-wingers.

Meanwhile, you can’t even go to the grocery store anymore without worrying if your brains are going to get splattered all over the produce aisle. Our students have active shooter drills with cops firing blanks to get them used to the sound of real gunfire. And people have just adjusted to it all like it’s normal. Because what else can we do, right?

It’s not normal. It’s not OK. This place is sick.

I never wanted to be a firearm owner like I am now, but this is a war-torn country and it seems like all that’s left to do is look out for ourselves, because no one else will. And isn’t that what America’s all about? “Rugged individualism?” Yeah. It’s great, being so “free.” Free to be isolated and afraid. Free to get killed while standing in line for a vaccine you waited a year for by some maniac who thinks it has a microchip in it or something. Free to wade endlessly through this sea of rabid bullet hoses whose brains have been turned to mush by the internet, a lack of easy access to mental health care, and the so-called “places of worship” where they go to get reassured that their bloodlust is somehow righteous. If this is “freedom,” I’ll trade it for a state that actually does something about its problems, thanks. The American experiment is failing, and these massacres we’ve become so accustomed to are its death rattles.

But thank God we have the “nothing will fundamentally change and the cages are nicer now, we promise” Biden administration to throw pocket change at us and talk about how bad pot is.

To their credit, it’s becoming easier to get the vaccine, and we aren’t being subjected to 15 tweets a day about the pandemic being a hoax (a sentence I only had to type because the bar has been dragged down into the Mariana Trench). Just try not to get shot by some anti-vaxxer and/or religious nut who was able to buy an AR-15 despite posting murder porn on Facebook every day or talking about hearing voices in their heads to their friends and family or whatever else while you get it. And then maybe, just maybe, you’ll survive long enough to pay your next bill before the next guy snaps, and the cycle starts all over again.