A man who was known by no one is now known by everyone.
His face splashed across every screen, his name across the lips of every person on the planet, all in the course of one day.
The lifestyle had become the death-style, allowing Auvinen’s own alienation to grow ennobled, in his poor mind, with the ‘achievements’ of other so-called beta boys around the world, especially in his beloved America.
‘Hate, I am so full of it and I love it,’ he wrote in his manifesto (a direct quote from the Columbine killers’ journals).
And finally, the last escape: mass murder at the movies.’Someone, perhaps not a million miles from you, whose name we don’t yet know but whose face is camera-ready, whose conscience is clearing before the fact, is preparing a biography of his mentality in advance of a shooting massacre.
He is almost certainly a he, and he is unhappy, and he is already fully armed. He is likely to be a virgin with a history of isolation.
He shot nine people dead at the college on 1 October and injured nine others before killing himself.
Harper-Mercer, aged 26, had an online account with the name Lithium_Love; he used it to upload videos about school shootings and he posted blogs about Wes Craven, the horror-film director who had just died.
‘I have noticed,’ it says, ‘that so many people like him are all alone and unknown, yet when they spill a little blood, the whole world knows who they are.
Flanagan’s manifesto is filled with the copycat’s respect for the original, offering big-ups to mass shooters before him – ‘I was influenced by Seung-Hui Cho.
That’s my boy right there,’ he said, referring to the Virginia Tech killer – before stepping into the warm bath of nihilism and sentimentality where such manifesto-writers eventually seek to drown.
‘I haven’t slept for three days,’ he had written in his diary, expecting that it would be read in the future by an appalled world.
He hated jocks and preppies and wondered why they felt so superior and got all the girls.