Stephen Paddock is unfortunately not a mystery. He is the symptom of a disease the world has developed.
The Western World has grown so narcissistic that Paddock’s horrible acts of violence will continue. It’s not hard to figure out why. If you've ever met a narcissist, you know how enraged they become when they go unnoticed. So, what happens when they grow old?
It's a sociological phenomenon that as a person grows older society pulls away from them. The young take over and push the old aside. So, an aging narcissist will naturally become more insulted the longer they live, because they will not be pushed aside.
Nevertheless, as the world marginalizes them, it's not a far stretch to imagine they might seek a little payback. After all, there is a way to make the world notice them once and for all. All they have to do is beat the death toll of the last mass murderer. Then the world will know their name! And now we know the name, Stephen Paddock, don’t we?
You could argue that this is all just aberrative pathology. It’s unfortunate, but rare. It's a tale of the Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and it's always been with us. But there's a problem: The modern world is breeding narcissists; it’s become the new normal.
In a hundred ways, the world tells you that you’re nothing if you’re not a genius on Jeopardy, a contestant on a Master Chef, a singer on America's Got Talent, a litigant on Judge Judy. Something—anything. You’re nothing if not a celebrity. To spectate is to lose. With so many cameras in the world, how could you go so unnoticed? If your personality is not worldwide, why should your personality even exist?
|Stephen Paddock: greatest mass shooter in |
U.S. history—as of the time of this writing.
Every show you watch, every magazine you see while reduced to standing in a line at Walmart tells you the same thing about yourself: If you’re not young, model-esque, energetic, super-confident, and getting all the recreational sex, with all the beautiful people who recognize how cool and winning you are, and most of all, if there are no cameras to record any of it—you are nothing to the world. You’re condemned to watch the world and be ignored by it at the same time.
So, Paddock was bound to happen—and is bound to happen more frequently. Our society is has become a sugary medium for narcissism. With mass communication, the ease of publishing and producing books and videos, the ever-increasing population, and all the news all the time, featuring anything anyone does that will bring even one more viewer, narcissism finds its perfect petri dish.
The grand existential question is no longer “Who am I?” but, “Who will notice me?” There is no longer any such thing as being proud of oneself. Self-esteem is now based on how many views your Facebook video gets, how many “likes” your post generates, how many people will notice your selfie above the billions of others trying to be noticed. Happiness is attention.
In a world of narcissism, everyone stands up, but no one stands out, and when secular sanctification is all anyone wants, life can be very disappointing. Narcissism motivates a person, but as they fail to rise in the media they see on their computers, phones, and television, and as they get older and societal separation is assured, the world becomes one big slight.
Stephen Paddock is not a mystery. What he did is inescapably predictable, and in the context of a mad world, maybe even rational: Why die unnoticed?