remember that short story they made you read in school called The Lottery where the whole town gets together and just stones a motherfucker at random what the fuck was up with that

Actually, I know what was up with that!

When The Lottery (by Shirley Jackson) was first published, tons of people wrote into the newspaper that published it to demand to know what the hell it was meant to be about

I suppose, I hoped, by setting a particularly brutal ancient rite in the present and in my own village to shock the story’s readers with a graphic dramatization of the pointless violence and general inhumanity in their own lives.

So basically the story is written in such a way that the uncritical nature of the townspeople is highlighted, when it comes to their own traditions. Every year the town commits outright violent murder, but because it’s ‘normal’ to them, they don’t think of it in those terms. The reader, who isn’t part of the town’s cultural assumptions, sees the horrific nature of their actions. But the characters in the story don’t.

In essence, it’s a story about normalization (before that phrase was coined). The point is to make you think about what cruelties might be passing uncriticized in your own culture, just because they seem ‘normal’ to you. Maybe your town doesn’t stone someone to death once a year, but there are other ways for communities to kill people, or let them suffer. And some of those are just as needless and just as rooted in unquestioned assumptions about how the world works, or how society needs to operate. The people in The Lottery were hesitant to give up their tradition because they believed it guaranteed them a good harvest. Revealing, in that hesitance, that the possibility of a bad outcome was more frightening to them than an atrocity they’d normalized.