An outcast from society: Elliot Rodger in retrospect

Now that most of the hyperbole and rumour surrounding Elliot Rodger has subsided after 3 months, it is now time for a reflection on the true meaning and consequences of his actions. What drove a young 22 year old from an affluent upbringing to gon on a killing spree causing the deaths of 7 innocent lives and injuring 4 others in Isla Vista, California? Major news sources have reported that Elliot Rodger’s “pure hatred for humanity stemmed from his “unfulfilled” status as a virgin and the associated sexual frustration. However this is simply the surface of Elliot’s condition which lead to him committing this massacre. This tragic event reflects also society’s condition as well as human nature at its core. Elliot Rodger was a prolific ‘vlogger’ who in a sense had a series of video diaries describing his thoughts and feelings, from those insightful videos we can determine several things. Elliot Rodger was living in a world constructed by self deception which helped him cope with reality. The consequences of this is apparent Elliot struggled to live in reality. Secondly it is also clear that he wished to join what he described as “the fellowship of mankind” but found himself as an outcast instead. Another lesson that we can learn from this tragedy is the danger of becoming too consumed by your own fantasies and delusions.

It is common among the youth of today to retreat into worlds of fantasy to escape from harsh realities. This was especially the case with Rodger who often played the online multi-player game World of Warcraft. However this is not to say that if you know somebody who plays World of Warcraft they are going to necessarily murder people. On the contrary a recent survey done by Blizzard (the developers of World of Warcraft) showed that “around 70% of players” hold a stable full time job. Perhaps this fantasy is an escape from a tedious job where you aren’t succeeding to attain an “average of hundred and forty dollars a week” or whatever the goal you hold highly. Instead it is much more pleasurable to slay a dragon and rescue the princess when you come home “tired” and “clearly exhausted.” Dr Seuss is famous for his outlandish tales that provide escapism from everyday life for both adults and children, he is well known for saying that “fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.” Rodger may have had too much of that ingredient leading to the dire consequences which ended the lives of 7 innocent people.

When the illusions of our own making become apparent it is sometimes revealed that “our lives have been a life” In the example of Rodger’s who described himself as “a supreme gentlemen” and “a charming good looking man” we can see a rift split between the illusionary world and reality where he is actually “lonely” and has been “rejected by humanity.” it is fundamental aspect of human nature to create illusions or fantasies to retreat to in order to cope with the hardships of life. In saying that, it is also as Iris Murdoch stated that “the greatest task in life is to find reality.” I would emphasise that in that we must find reality and hold onto it, a task that Rodger’s has failed. In chilling moments of lucid self perception Elliot appears to have found reality, if so for a brief period, where he reflects on the “irrationality” of his own thoughts that are “full of hatred” but this mindset doesn’t last long as he soon slips back into his illusionary “world which had cheated” him. In many aspects it is the attitudes that he may have picked up from his highly successful parents (in particular his Father who co-directed the latest Hunger games) who “blew him so full of hot air” that he began to believe he was “God’s gift to women” when he should have realised that he in fact “a dime a dozen.” When Rodger’s fantastical realm clashed with reality in the form of his rejected approaches to women it caused him confusion which turned to anger and then finally hatred, because only one “filled of rage and hated” could commit those awful crimes.”

Fantasy can be beneficial in many occasions contrary to the terrible consequences we see in an over indulgence of it. The unlikely and sometimes seemingly impossible can be imagined through fantasy which can sometimes not be as self centred as losing your virginity. These are called dreams, and as Bonnie Roberts was famously quoted “it is only the dreamers who can change things.” This statement was prophetic when less than a century later a civil rights activist said in one of the most well known speeches that he had ” a dream.” I’m sure many people, black and white, thought Martin Luther King was mad for envisioning a world so unlikely seemingly impossible and perhaps that he was living in a fantasy world, but that didn’t stop him from making it reality. In a similar event that triggered the entire movement equal rights between blacks and whites came from a single word “No.” Rosa Parks herself would say you were dreaming, or were crazy if you said that nine months later the nation would marching the streets from Kentucky to New York, New York. That single word inspired others to envision an illusionary world which undoubtedly was fictional, but by Jove they made it real! The imagination is a great tool with which humanity was been bestowed, unfortunately it s a double edged sword which of course has its inherent flaws the latest occurring in Isla Vista, California as witnessed by the world.

Like almost every parent in Western society, Elliot’s probably told him to “dream big kid.” A sentiment he carried to the very end of his life as he manically details how he will “punish the world” as a merciless god”, an exaggeration which he may or may not have fully believed in, although we will never know. Yes, we create fantasies to cope with reality and these illusions can sometimes consume us to the point that reality becomes an intruder, however sometimes we create fantasies in order to dream and change our reality. This is the only truth which as a society we can learn from that pain and the heartache of May 23, 2014.

Ross 15/09/2014


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