Having avoided it for as long as humanly possible without going into total media boycott, I finally watched the infamous Cho Seung-Hui videos on Lateline tonight. Those videos that NBC News in the US received in the post and “handled it with dignity”, according to Virginia Police Superintendent Steve Flaherty. (Yeah, all the dignity of broadcasting them around the world a hundred million times with NBC logos slapped all over them.)
What is clear is that Cho, like so many other massacre-ists, suffered a troublesome combination of “a persecution complex, an enormous, fragile ego, an obsessive need for control and low competence for exercising it”, as a chap by the name of raincoaster rather aptly puts it. They are most often “tightly-wound, ego-driven men who would conventionally be described as failures”.
In a subsequent post, raincoaster draws an unkind but not inaccurate (cruel, but fair) parallel between mass murdering psychos and people who are hugely into Second Life, which is currently the mainstream media’s second-biggest obsession after serial killers.
. . . it seemed obvious that Second Life was most attractive to mature people who’d failed in First Life . . . it gives you the opportunity to hit REPLAY and live your life over, and if you don’t like the way it’s going, you hit DELETE and create a new life. This is not something that those accustomed to success would find compelling.
Which is also, if you think about it, a pretty decent explanation of much of the bizarre, antisocial and immature behaviour that goes on in L2 (that’s what the cognoscenti call it), such as, oh I dunno, interrupting someone’s lecture with a bunch of flying penises. Second Lifers even invented a new name for people who do stuff like this: they’re called “griefers”, apparently because “no-life losers” is too long or accurate, or something.
I mean, if you want to see a textbook persecution complex, look no further than the paranoid ravings of high-profile SL dissident Prokofy Neva, which have recently descended to threats of physical violence against some of his/her nemeses. And there is no shortage of control freaks or enormous fragile egos in the never-ending flame wars on Second Citizen and other forums.
If these nutjobs can teach us nothing else, they at least demonstrate the point a very clever person recently made to me: there’s no point moving to another country, and that goes doubly for a virtual one, if you’re fucked in the head. Because no matter where you go, you take your head with you.
This is the ultimate futility of people who come to Second Life trying to compensate for their real-world shortcomings and lack of success. If you’re a loser in first life, you’re probably a loser in Second Life too.