The real lesson we should learn from Oslo

I’ve never seen so much embarrassing speculation on a single day as I did yesterday. The media delivered us wild stories about various Afghan and Pakistani terror groups that could be responsible. Truthers everywhere were convinced it must have been Israel. Now they switched their narrative and instead point at the media and say, they were lying to you! How dare they make unfounded claims!

The only thing I have any knowledge on is what can drive a man to such madness. I feel no need to speculate any further on what ideology or secret organization may drive a man to commit such acts, as it actually isn’t really that relevant whether he was given his gun by an intelligence agent or not, or whether he was a Freemason or not for the point I want to make clear. Whether he did it on his own or not is irrelevant, Harris and Klebold worked together as well.

I’m glad I didn’t bother to jump on the bandwagon yesterday. At first I figured someone was trying to frame Libya, as the media began to blame Libya. Then I heard of the shooting and I dismissed it as being unrelated and a result of hysteria and panic. Then an hour later I checked back and I saw pictures of bodies floating in the water and was horrified.

Looking back it’s not so much the fact that someone could murder a number of teenagers after careful planning and consideration that should shock us. Ideology is really just an excuse to carry out an act that will get people’s attention. It’s posturing. As clich as it may be, when you commit an act of mass murder, you’re the biggest victim yourself and the death are collateral in your cry for help while attempting to look in control by posing as motivated by some kind of ideology. People will do whatever is needed to be heard and be the center of attention for a moment and have people think.

What was he thinking.

If you doubt me, consider the fact that the guy carefully set up a Facebook profile a few days ago.

Unfortunately it used to be easy to cry out for help, but not anymore. At some point you could ignore people and stop smiling and people would worry about you and ask you what’s wrong. Then eventually this became commonplace and you had to act odd. Refuse to participate in normal activities, act enraged or hysterical. This doesn’t do it any more either, so then you had to be self-destructive.

If you’re female, cut open your wrists, stop wearing make-up, shave your head bald and stop eating, as your greatest asset is thought to be your body, and by making it look worse you are sending the message that you are sending an SOS signal. If this doesn’t work, make a suicide attempt. Women make more suicide attempts, but men succeed more often.

If you’re male, choices are more limited. For a male it’s not odd to pay little attention to your appearance, as your biggest asset is not thought to be your appearance, but your bank account. Injuring yourself or killing yourself will make people consider you a loser. If you are successful in what society considers important, education and income, sabotaging your education or your career can sometimes be an effective SOS signal.

For males it’s far more difficult to send a cry for help. At this point our society has some concern for women, and if you’re walking around with large enough and fresh enough wounds on your wrists or take enough sleeping pills, eventually someone might show you some love, though more likely, you will be forwarded to a therapist, a professional we hire to treat us like human beings and deal with problems we expect each other to pretend do not exist.

The real lesson from yesterday isn’t about who did it, who had the motives or how it could be prevented. The real lesson is far worse. The real lesson is that at this point a simple school shooting or a car bomb isn’t enough to get our attention anymore, as everyone is sending SOS signals ever day. The number of children in Britain who self-harm has risen by a third in five years.

Compare it to birds in the forest. If every bird is singing, you have to sing louder just to be heard. And in our society, simply hurting yourself or someone else doesn’t work anymore to be the center of attention. This is the real lesson from Oslo: To receive the interest of someone who isn’t a professional, you now have to carry out a bomb attack and then move to an island and murder a large number of children.

Nothing really surprises or shocks us anymore at this point, we’ve seen it all, as insanity is all around us. If you shoot up your school you’re a school shooter, if you hurt your child you’re a child abuser, if you blow up your car you’re a terrorist. Cutting open your wrists doesn’t worry people anymore, as we now have entire subcultures and music genres that revolve around depression and self-injury.

It is sometimes said that we are weak compared to our ancestors. Physically we may have degenerated indeed, but psychologically we have only gotten much stronger. It is a miracle that people survive these days under the continual psychological torture that they endure. Our ancestors would not survive today. Not because of our germs or because of the radiation or anything like that, that’s minor. They would not survive because they would become mentally ill, or start using drugs, or they would kill themselves. We have gone through generations of natural selection in which those who can survive in this world reproduce, and those who can’t, don’t.

The fact of the matter is that we live utterly unsatisfying and meaningless lives, where we are everyday stripped of our humanity and our individuality. We live on number 187 of a row of identical looking homes. We sit in a room of identical cubicles where we do largely identical work completely unrelated to anything real, and if we do something wrong our boss has a dozen people ready to take over our role in society within a matter of days. We’re human beings, turned into human resources.

If we are upset, our friends don’t want to talk to us as friendships now exist as long as they serve us. Friends are for good weather, therapists for bad weather. With a divorce rate circling around 50%, we have become utterly replaceable to the most important person in our lives as well. Family is the people you have to greet when you see them, to prevent awkwardness.

We work 50 hours a week or more, not because we need the money as we have no idea what to do with the money, but because someone there manages to convincingly give us the illusion that he needs us, and that we’re important. The illusion is maintained until someone can do it better or for less money than we do.

We’re robots, going on autopilot for most of our day. We never feel peace so we seek to be constantly entertained and increasingly find that nothing entertains us anymore. We complain about being busy all the time in the same manner a teenage girl would complain to her peers about getting text messages from her stalker, or having boys look at her. We find ourselves unable to sit through movies made 30 years ago as the pace is too slow. Our music is increasingly loud and what passes for rock music now is more intense and loud than Black Sabbath was just 40 years ago.

Our food needs so much salt, sugar and MSG that we get heart disease and obesity from eating it. We begin with alcohol, progress to cocaine, step to heroin and end with Krokodil. We look at people with food addictions, drug addictions, self-harm addictions and have a smug feeling of pride as we realize that the only drugs we need to get through the day are caffeine, sugar, Internet, television, ethanol and Prozac.

We’ll do anything just to feel something. It doesn’t even have to be pleasure. Our parents would go sit in the theater and look at a deformed mass murderer who slaughters a dozen or more teenagers over the time span of two hours and call it fun. Our generation has the internet and has seen deformed babies, scat pornography, bodies torn apart and decapitations, before we were adults. Horror movies? We download them and then forget to watch them.

I’m generally not very keen on predictions, but I predict the following: As we continue to progress as a society, we will see increasingly more horrific acts of mass murder and terror.

David Rothscum

David.Rothscum@dse.nl is the place to send your mail.

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