The Lone Gunman and Society

Last week, Eliot Rodger, a privileged, well-spoken young man, who on the face of it had everything,took it upon himself to execute another mass killing on a school He hatefully targeted women blaming them for his virginity and his rejection from society. Shootings like this were once, not too long ago, an exception, a horrific and unavoidable accident. Now, well, they’re not. They have become regular and reliable occurrence, likes taxes and birthdays. Barely a few months go by before we see the next wave reports of another tortured soul inflicting “justice” upon the world. We have a problem.

How have we got into this mess? The institution of the campus shooting is a modern one. This sort of thing simply didn’t happen in quite the same way less than fifty years ago, the number of school shootings has dramatically risen almost every decade until now. But why is that? Why today, and mostly in developed parts of North America have young people barely reaching adulthood taken to killing their peers. I’ll be honest. I don’t know and I don’t pretend to. Anyone who falsely presents themselves as having an understanding of why an isolated young person wants to do something that unimaginable is lying. Better gun control only targets the outward representation of what is obviously a far deeper problem. The fact that white males, supposedly the most privileged of everyone in society, would want to gun down their peers.

It’s tough being human, even when you’re privileged. Society fails to redress the psychological problems that violently lash out like this. America’s idolization of celebrity must be held to account. The modern media essentially provides a prime time spot for anyone with a gun and a manifesto. We’re giving a megaphone to mental illness. We’re offering a platform to anyone willing to do the unthinkable, drawing attention away from helping the underlying causes. But the truth is Eliot Rodgers was ill, someone who broke into tears at the site of happy couples. You can only imagine the pain his family is going through, parents mourning the loss of a child they tried hard to get help for. But to no avail. Rodger died in the fulfilment of his masterplan that through his twisted, fatalist logic he believed would put everything right.

The media however cannot be fully blamed for all this. It’s the very stuff that popular news stories are made out of. Proposing some kind of blanket ban on reporting of this type is completely ridiculous. More attention needs to be paid to angry young men. We live in increased isolation from the people around us, which is only aided by technology. A more inclusive society is needed, where people like this are noticed before it’s too late. Just because someone looks like they have it all by standards of society, doesn’t mean they aren’t seriously suffering. It’s not about misogyny or bigotry; it’s about recommending help to those who seem troubled, and recognizing that not all ailments are just physical.