Elliot Rodger Social Media Warning Signs
Being the social media marketer that I am, I’m rendered speechless this evening while scrolling through some of the social media accounts belonging to Elliot Rodger, the alleged Isla Vista murderer who went on a killing spree this weekend. The details of this case are all over the media, and there is a lot to be discussed about the issues surrounding this incident: misogyny, gun control, psychiatric care, bullying, and more. But I’m not a specialist in any of those fields, and even if I were, the focus of this blog is digital marketing, and as such, I can’t help but talk about Elliot Rodger’s social media warning signs.
When looking at Elliot Rodger’s Facebook page or YouTube channel, it’s easy to see some very clear signals that this young man is being consumed by his own narcissism, hatred of people in relationships, and anger towards societal norms. My purpose for this blog post isn’t necessarily to talk about the awful Isla Vista murders, nor the personal life of Elliot Rodger and his motives. Instead, my purpose is to teach you, my faithful follower, some warning signs on social media that you may be able to use to identify problems with your children, spouses, friends, co-workers, or employees. If you’re a social marketer, you likely spend a lot of time on social media websites, so learning to recognize these signs may save a life.
1. Anger or hatred towards “normal” things.
If someone you know has an abnormally strong, negative opinion about things that almost everyone likes (or at least feels neutral about), like animals and children, this could be a sign of an underlying issue. There are plenty of people who don’t like animals and/or children, but most people don’t actively seek out YouTube videos of animal cruelty and “like” them, nor do they post comments on videos of babies stating that the child is a “monstrosity”. I doubt that Elliot Rodger would state these things in public, but behind his (poorly disguised) social accounts, he felt anonymous and let his true colors show.
A true obsession occupies your every thought, consciously or subconsciously. Lots of people have a temporary or fleeting obsession, but if someone’s mind remains fixated on a single topic of thought for months or even years, this can definitely be a warning sign; especially if the obsession is with something negative. In real life, people often mask their obsessions quite well, but once again, the false security of internet anonymity brings out the deepest of obsessions. Letting a single thought or pool of thoughts direct your every move is never a good thing.
3. Respect for “evil” people.
The fact that Elliot Rodger obviously revered people such as the Colorado movie theater shooter James Holmes, or even historical figures like Hitler, should have been a warning sign to anyone who knew him personally and saw these things on his social media profiles. It’s one thing to study and/or pity a murderer, criminal, or insane person, but it’s quite another to respect them as if they were a hero.
In real life, many people who need help are bullied relentlessly by their peers. Online, these people become the bullies themselves, as a way of attempting to recover their feelings from their own years of abuse. Online, bullies are often referred to as “trolls”, and sometimes they are harmless; making jokes at someone else’s expense or making off-color comments for the sole purpose of gaining attention. If someone you know bullies others online, even if it seems harmless, dig deeper and see if they are acting this way online as a release from some type of abuse in the real world.
5. Detailed violence.
I love a heated, online debate, particularly when the debate is concise and and the points and counterpoints are factual and presented passionately. I don’t even mind when the debate turns into an argument, which then usually regresses into outright name-calling. Welcome to the internet! But when someone in an internet comment uses articulate language to describe the disgusting things they would like to do to their opponent, it’s definitely a sign of inner violence.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to identify someone on social media who needs help. It’s important to recognize warnings signs, because the things that you say to this person (online or in person) could literally be lifesaving.
A big part of what I try to teach my clients is to be yourself on social media; nobody should ever say or do something online if they wouldn’t do it in real life, in a room full of people. The internet is rarely as anonymous as we think it is, and that’s a good lesson for everyone.
I would also like to express my sincere condolences for all the victims of these acts of violence.
Oh, by the way, if this post was useful to you at all, please say “thanks” by liking my Facebook page! It means a lot to me! 🙂