December 26, 2021

My, How Things Have Changed (My So-Called Life Edition)

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I am a passionate fan of the ’90s TV show My So-Called Life. I am not much of a collector of entertainment on disks, but I own the box set of all the episodes of My So-called Life’s single season on ABC. Intending primarily to re-watch the Christmas episode, I’ve been viewing the series beginning with the pilot.

I was stopped cold while watching Episode 3, “Guns and Gossip,” which originally aired on September 8, 1994. The episode begins in a high-school classroom, but instruction is interrupted by what is clearly a gunshot. What did the students and teachers do? Remember, this was 1994, eight-and-a-half years before the Columbine High School massacre. Everyone immediately runs out of the classroom and into the hallway to see what happened.

The reaction to a gunshot in a school today would be very different. Instead of running into the hallway, people would shut and barricade doors, search for cover, and students would call their parents on their cellphones. Gunfire in schools has become depressingly commonplace, and one gunshot is frequently followed by others, often discharged from a semiautomatic weapon. No one except a school resource officer would run toward the source of a gunshot.

Life in our schools has certainly changed—and not for the better.

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