Let’s over-analyze our way to another mass shooting.
That way, in a week or two, we’ll have something new to over-analyze, once we’ve made it clear, yet again, that this is a quick road to fame.
Everyone who is anyone will write, or talk, about the psychology of the killer, and how someone with a seemingly-“normal,” decent life could “snap.” Almost always it’s these average-looking white guys who feel the world has somehow not lived up to their expectations, and instead of working harder or waiting a little longer to see if things get better, they decide to go out in a blaze of glory. And glory is what we give them.
The killers’ names and faces pour into every American household, through TV and the internet, for days on end. The killer becomes a celebrity.
In all the coverage of the killer, however, there is almost never any focus on the victims. What about their stories? Weren’t they living full, interesting lives that were suddenly ended, violently and prematurely, by this “representation of culture”?
I wish they would start covering the lives of the victims instead of always glorifying the loser that killed them. What about the lives these people were living just the other day? What about their fears and insecurities? What potential was lost in each young person whose time line was cut short? What trials and traumas had these people lived through, and what made them strong enough to deal with their problems and not go on some childish, attention-grabbing shooting spree instead?
Maybe if we humanized the victims instead of glorifying the perpetrators, mass shootings wouldn’t seem so appealing to weird outcasts. The victims’ stories, and what their families go through, are always relegated to background noise against the real story of interest: the life of the killer. The victims are just numbers. The news media likes to question the influence of violent video games on murderers, while they chock up death tolls with just as much cold, disaffected numbness. Why not focus on the lives that were lost and how real and horrific that is? Maybe the next Einstein was just taken from us. We focus on feeding into the cult of personality around the killer, but don’t really discuss the consequences of their actions.
These needy outcasts, who feel they are going to die as “nobodies”, have found a way to be immortalized by the media, and even looked-up to, by plenty of would-be serial killers. Maybe some of them will go all the way and take the step to guarantee their names and faces are known. What do I mean, “maybe”? We all know some will, and then we can debate political issues like gun control, or mental health access, or misogyny and privilege, to try and get our own names, as writers, attached to the famous image and narrative of our latest outcast-cum-murderer-cum-celebrity.
This is why I’m not attaching any photos of murderers or including their names. You can find that stuff everywhere else, pretty easily. I’d like to learn about the fascinating, exciting people who we lost, and what the world might be like if they were still around.