A Social Media Biography of a Spree Killer, Part 1

MH: Wtf…why is this in my Watch Later list? Who even is this kid and why does anyone care that he takes walks at a golf course?!

LL: are you for real? don’t you know what he did? google Elliot Rodger

MH: I looked him up after I posted this. I still don’t care that he walks around at golf courses. [1]

My name is Elliot Rodger. I was born in the UK, but moved to the United States at the age of 5. I grew up in Calabasas and Woodland Hills, California. Currently, I am attending college in Santa Barbara, and while there I am staying the the town of Isla Vista. I have tried very hard to fit in with the social scene there, but I have ultimately been unable to do so. There are too many obnoxious people who have ruined my whole experience at that place.[2]

Like 28% of young adults (18-29) in the United States, Elliot Rodger created videos and posted them to the Internet. He recorded himself driving around in his BMW, walking around public places, and giving monologues on life, particularly his dissatisfaction with women. Unlike most young adults, he posted a video that outlined his plans for a killing spree. The videos are part of his social media autobiography, an enduring digital artifact of a life many would like to forget.

On May 23, 2014, Elliot Rodger, 22, stabbed and mortally wounded his Asian roommates, Weihan Wang and Chen Hong, and their friend George Chen; shot three young women at Alpha Phi Sorority, killing Veronica Weiss and Katherine Cooper; shot at businesses in Isla Vista, an area that borders the UC Santa Barbara Campus, killing Christopher Michaels-Martinez; drove his BMW into pedestrians; and shot himself.

Being lonely in a beautiful place like Santa Barbara is truly a horrible experience. As I’ve said many times, a beautiful environment can be the darkest hell if you have to experience it all alone, especially while having to watch other men walking around with their girlfriends. I wish girls were attracted to me. I don’t know why they aren’t.[3]

Through discussion forum posts, YouTube videos, photographs, selfies, blog posts, and a personal essay he distributed through email, Rodger digitally published a fragmented social media autobiography. He documented his life, explained his feelings, detailed his family history, and expressed his hopes. He marked his change from happy young boy to disillusioned young adult.

His social media publications are emotional and honest. They express his feelings about life. They attempt to justify murder. We don’t understand. Rodger comes off as both pitiful and arrogant, complicating his character in a way we cannot easily resolve. Most of us find it difficult to identify with him. We may consider sympathy. We find it easier to declare him mentally ill. It soothes us to disperse the blame.

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