A Social Media Biography of a Spree Killer, Part 2

Why do things have to be this way? I’m sure that is the question everyone will be asking after the Day of Retribution is over. They will all be asking why. Indeed, why? That is the question I’ve had for everyone throughout all my years of suffering.  [5]

Rodger planned a happy ending for himself, and the day went mostly as scripted. We don’t know how he felt as he pulled the trigger and ended his life, but can imagine that his inflexibility led him to believe that the end was already written.

This site is full of stupid, disgusting, mentally ill degenerates who take pleasure in putting down others. That is all I have to say on here. Goodbye. [6]

Rodger left us his story, but he misunderstood how most of us would read mass murder. We don’t understand how one person’s suffering justifies taking another person’s life. We understand the feelings and the words, the images and the narratives, but not the actions.

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Rodger didn’t have the last word. We fill his blank pages with our interpretations, turning his social autobiography into a digital field of social media texts that retell, rewrite, and recreate his story. We select quotes to fragment him into examples. We remix his selfies and words into memes. We mock and share him.

Virgin Killer ‘hooked on bodybuilding pills’— Rodger became addicted to the body building supplement creatine after a friend in Russia died trying to squat 350 kgs. Follow-up reports revealed that the reporter who broke this story was trolled.

Shooter could have been gay— A psychotherapist on Fox News blames Rodger’s anger towards women on a “fight against his homosexual impulses,” suggesting that the killing spree was partially the result of his closeted homosexuality. After public backlash, the psychotherapist tried to take back her unsupported assertions.

His digital footprint grows, but we let the details slip away. We want to forget. We don’t care enough to remember, won’t recall his story. We’ll remember a narrative that helps explain him. We’ll remember the words and phrases we connect to him, the tags that group him with others we will never understand.

 

[1] “My Twisted World,” 95.

[2] “My Twisted World,” 95.

[3] Excerpt from biography on georgerodgerphotographs.com.

[4]  “My Twisted World,” 137.

[5]  “My Twisted World,” 95.

[6] Rodger’s post in puahate.com.

 

 

 

Randy Gonzales is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He writes across genres, media, and disciplines, exploring intersections of culture and technology. He is particularly interested in narratives of place and displacement. He is a graduate of the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi. For more on Randy go to www.gonzales22.com.

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