Sunday, May 25, 2014
Some young men cannot handle societal expectations of them
The latest rampage, by Elliot Rodger, near Santa Barbara CA, seems to have been motivated by his resentment that “life isn’t fair.” I’ve been in that area before (when I went to discuss my first book at DADT with a UCSB professor) so it could have happened to me. This seems a little more personal. CNN has a detailed story and link to the “manifesto” and transcript, so we’ll let CNN give us the exact words, here.
There have been “manifestos” before (the Unabomer, Virginia Tech) and email or social media trails (Boston, Sandy Hook), so the word “manifesto” seems to get a bad rap. But, of course, we can learn a lot from reading personal accounts how social expectations and supposed “moral teachings” play out in different lives.
As for "popularity", that's never mattered too much for me. As for content, I care more about how original and complete it is, not how many hits it gets or how it is monetize. I don't think that counts of social media friends and followers should mean too much (although the whitelisting concept matters). We are simply too preoccupied with bean counters. I can see that from the solicitations I get all the time,
Young men in almost any culture are challenged to prove they can “compete” to have and provide for an protect children, through women, usually (as society generally expects) through marriage. Nature has a lot of chance involved. Mere logic says that some men are bigger and stronger than others. (Yes, tall men are sometimes perceived to have an advantage.) In natural world, that’s survival of the fittest. (I’m remembering right now a TV documentary where a Canadian zoologist won the favor of the alpha male of a lion pride so he could film it. As long as he was around, the king male was much less aggressive around other males. Interesting.) In human society, we have to learn to value diversity. That leads to individual freedom, but the exercise of sovereign personal freedom invokes some moral paradoxes. Freedom needs to be used to find and cultivate value in others where the majority doesn’t always see it. I know from my own track in life, that is daunting. (Sometimes other people’s children matter more than having you own, for example.) I also know that I cannot yield to coercion. That sets up another paradox.
Some observers called the perpetrator's behavior a kind of "injustice collecting", as discussed in Psychology Today here.