Something terrible happened two days ago.
Seven people died in Southern California, and even more were severely injured when twenty two year old UCSB student Elliot Rodger went on a killing spree.
… Or, that’s how he put it in the video blog he posted to YouTube just six hours before hopping into his BMW with an automatic pistol and taking to the streets to enact his plans.
This is that video:
* The original video was pulled from YouTube where it had been posted to Elliot Rodger’s personal account. This is a lower quality copy posted to an unrelated channel, preserving it for viewing.
What scares me most about this video is how many men in my life I know that might feel exactly the same as Elliot did, but are too afraid, or too prideful to reach out for help. It scares me to think that any of the people I know and love could snap at any moment because of a pent up frustration they feel with society. And it makes me sad to see this kid, a kid who is younger than my baby brother, lose his life so senselessly while destroying the lives of several others in the process.
* A young Elliot Rodger with his hair bleached blonde, pulled from his Facebook page.
Leading up to the killing spree, Elliot shared several video blogs detailing the small pleasures in life he would take to alleviate himself of the pain he felt from being scorned by women — a walk through a parking lot near his favorite golf course toward the setting sun, his drive home from attending school, etc. He peppered these videos with thoughts such as how unloved he felt. Alone. He very much believed that life was unfair (which, admittedly, it really is). He was tortured by the thought that “obnoxious men” could so easily win over the women he lusted for while he, a “perfect gentleman”, was still a virgin at 22.
A friend of mine texted me this:
If others can handle it, why did Elliot snap? Why was his situation different? Was it mental illness? Was it that he didn’t have friends to turn to? Did he grow up in an environment that fostered that mentality? Was he exposed to reading or information that altered his views in an unhealthy way?
Whatever the reason, we can’t let this happen again.
We can’t let people go on feeling like they’re alone.
Like they’re misunderstood, or unfairly treated.
No one should be afraid to reach out for help, and it hits way too close to home to think that so many people are suffering and feel that they can do nothing about it.
There has to be something we can do to prevent something like this in the future.
Feeling compelled to make a difference, and also because this happened so close to me (a friend of mine who I only just attended a music festival with in San Francisco was shot in the leg by Elliot, and she is grateful she did not receive worse), I took to Facebook and approached my 200,000+ following to offer what help I could, hoping to make even the smallest difference. Should I offer dating advice online, I wondered aloud?
“He had severe malignant NPD [Narcissistic Personality Disorder]. A makeover would not have helped him. He would have been disgusted at the thought of it and thought of you as just another ‘entitled bitch’ or ‘slut who only wants cavemen’.
This guy had a mental disorder that flew under the radar for long enough that by the time his parents started getting him help for it, he was able to charm his way out of any repercussions or roadblocks to what eventually happened. He also found a home for his horrible thoughts and ideals in the MRA community, and while I don’t think MRA was the sole contributing factor in what he did, I think that it fostered an environment where he got constant affirmation for his ideas and feelings.
It’s like, obviously not every racist or KKK person is going to form a lynch mob, but I’m damn sure that the KKK community certainly encouraged way more to happen by creating an environment where it was considered okay. Same with this. Not every MRA guy is gonna shoot up a college, but the ideals and motivations behind what he did are very common ones in that community.
You could not have helped this guy. You’re not a qualified professional and even those guys didn’t help him. What needs to change is society as a whole.”
* Please note that I have yet to fact-check the statements made in this quote, and further research may be necessary. For more on NPD, check this Wikipedia entry.
I agreed with Pepper on the point of society needing to change as a whole. What could we all do, I thought, to work towards some sort of solution to a problem some of us didn’t even know existed?
Pepper offered this in reply:
“…we need to promote the idea that society needs to be more accepting and understanding of mental illnesses so that it’s easier to recognize and diagnose them and so that people don’t feel ashamed for getting help.
We also need to crush the idea that masculinity comes from the possession of a woman, because that was truth to this guy and it made him feel like less of a man, which clearly didn’t sit well with his NPD.”
So, how can we do that?
I see campaigns pop up regularly across my social news feeds asking me and others to participate in this or that to support this cause or that cause — and those sort of campaigns have never moved me. They have never really urged me to join and make a difference.
What can we do to really get people to want to make a change?
Do more people need to snap or die in order for us to see that this is a problem?
More importantly, what can I do to help?
I need to know these answers.
I wish someone had them.
I have been sad before. I have been lonely. I have felt the crushing burden of expectations, and without friends, without family, I feel I never could have climbed out of the mental prison I had built around myself. Believe me, if I could be everyone’s best friend and be there for everyone when anyone most needed it, I would be, but I can’t.
What can I do?
For my part, I have this blog. I have my Facebook with craptons of followers. And I have several presences across the web where folks follow me for a whole variety of reasons. Sometimes, they even listen to the things I have to say.
Is there something I should be saying to these people to urge others to recognize loneliness and mental illness in others? Some message I should be delivering that I am not already? What can I do to help? What am I missing?
If you have any ideas on how I can use my social and Internet influence to help prevent this sort of situation in the future, please chime in and let me know. I want to make a difference. And if you have any ideas on how we can all make a difference, please say so.
And if you, whoever you are, found this blog post and feel that you are alone, or feel frustrated to the point of snapping, please, please reach out to someone. Anyone. And keep reaching out for as long as you need the help. Please know that there are people out there who genuinely care and sincerely want to help. We want you to get better. We want you to be happy.
Please comment below with your thoughts. No one should have to go through this ever again. We have to do something.
Sherilynn “Cheri” Macale
Edit: Smart comments made about this post across the web and uploaded as I discover them: