The tough blog

Right now, I’m sure everyone is sick to death of the stories of the L.A. Fitness shooter, George Sodini. I’m sure it’s been covered over and over … especially since Pittsburgh is a town that has 3-degrees of separation. You may have 6 steps to being connected to Kevin Bacon, but here — if you’ve bothered to talk to anyone outside of your neighborhood — you are easily within 3 steps of anyone in the area.

And me? Well, I’m definitely one step away from that man, with a possibility that I met him. I say “possibility” because if I did, I don’t remember it. But friends of mine knew the guy, and it’s disconcerting to think someone as insane as he was is that close to you in real life.

See, a friend (whom I’ll call Acorn, for no good reason) and I used to host a lot of hikes. And since Acorn is a promo whore,  he plastered them everywhere on the Internet — and apparently Sodini joined us on a couple of them. Now, I don’t know if Sodini joined them when Acorn went solo or not  (I had to stop due to time constraints and a bum ankle) — but some of those early hikes had close to 30 people on them — and he could easily have been among them. I was too busy making sure we didn’t lose anyone, and communicating via shouting with Acorn. And right now, I’m not sure if I’m ready to look back at some of the pictures to see if his seething smile is among the faces that joined us on those excursions.

But I guess this has kind of been under my skin ever since I read his online diary after he went on his rampage. If you haven’t read it, let me assure you, it was truly disturbing.

He was obviously a frustrated man — frustrated at his lack of sex, frustrated at why no one loved him, frustrated at what he felt were millions of women rejecting him. And I’ve read a couple of articles about how there are other people who feel the same way as he does — but obviously not on the same level — due to the frustration of being single. Being alone for as long as Sodini was “was a destroyer,” as he put it.

So, this part is for anyone who shares in that frustration: Before you even think about looking at someone else, honestly ask yourself one basic question — do you love yourself?

Sodini didn’t. He apparently was doing everything society was telling him to do — he was gainfully employed, fit, neat — but without that extremely basic component of self-love, he failed. The bottled up rage and self-loathing that I saw in his videos was just pouring out of him. Why didn’t people want to be around him? Because no one can bear being around that kind of behavior for long. Or put another way, if you hear the ticking and see a bomb, isn’t your gut instinct to get as far away as possible?

People like being around people who are friendly, kind, fun and passionate about something in their lives. Usually, that passion is a natural lead-in to get to know someone — mutual interests open all kinds of doors and things can (and will) fall into place from there.

Obviously, Sodini had no sense of himself. He probably didn’t know what he liked and what he didn’t because he had no love of anything. He had his obsessions, he had his goals, a life that society told him was good and a burning rage that he was unwilling to let go of — and that was it.

And in my mind, those combined to create the true “destroyer.”

5 Responses to “The tough blog”

  1. 1 Sly Reference
    August 9, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    I haven’t been following this since the first day, but I’ll comment anyway; it’s the Internet after all.

    I don’t think it’s lack of self-love. Perhaps the opposite, or that it’s the wrong way to look at the problem. I just get the feeling that he felt that he had done everything he needed to to be a great catch, but no one ever fell in love with him. He resented doing all this work — working out, getting a tan, being successful, going out and meeting people — and not getting rewarded for it, as if there were an invisible storyteller who would make his life work out for him, or like there was a formula that produced success. You just have to do A, B and C and you’ll have a wonderful sex life and find someone to marry.

    Both of us know how stupid that is. Love isn’t about what you do yourself; it’s how you interact with other people. It seems like this guy was very good at being inconspicuous, a “nice guy,” and didn’t know that it wasn’t enough. He didn’t touch other people in his life, not in a deep emotional way, because he thought following his A, B, C formula was enough. It’s not.

    You can’t blame society. Society doesn’t tell us to how to act. Society throws out a bunch of light and sounds, and we read stories into what we see. Maybe A, B, C is the most common pattern, but it’s certainly not the only one, not in this day and age. Now it’s clear that if A, B, C doesn’t work out, you have to do D, E, F or G, H, I. You have to keep trying different things until you get S, E, X, or whatever makes you happy.

    Maybe he only hit on pretty girls, or ones that were already in relationships. Maybe he took girls out on safe, boring dates and had safe, boring conversations that kept women away as much as it drew them in. Maybe he was so busy thinking of women as a prize or a category that he didn’t pay enough attention to the individual women who were around him. Maybe they weren’t the most beautiful, or his ideal of the perfect woman, but they would have helped him think about the individual, not some abstract vision of woman that he was chasing after. Otherwise, you can make yourself crazy about what “they” should have done.

    This is life. At the end of the day, there is no “should have.” There are no finish lines; there is no climax or denouement. There is what gets you through the next day and what gets you closer to your goals. This guy was doing things wrong, and blamed himself and blamed women, when it seems like his expectations were what were out of whack. It’s unfortunate that other people had to suffer for his inability to see that.

  2. 2 funkyskull
    August 10, 2009 at 1:19 am

    I think what you guys are missing – and what it seems like a lot of news outlets are missing as well – is that it is not a matter of love, sex, rejection, etc. It is a matter of mental illness, and as long as someone who is unencumbered by mental illness tries to make logical sense of what is viewed through that lens, we will always come up empty. Because in the end, it didn’t matter if he was rejected or not – he perceived rejection. It didn’t matter if he was able to be loved – he perceived himself as too far gone. If he smiled at someone on the bus and she looked away, that would be a perceived rejection of devastating proportions.

    I’m not excusing him by any means. What he did is one of the most senseless, insane, and tragic things I’ve seen in a long time, but I don’t think we’ll ever be able to make sense of it, because we have the faculties of logic and reason, unimpaired by mental illness.

  3. 3 Sly Reference
    August 10, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    How are you disagreeing with me, at least in your comment? We are both talking about rage; I just think talking about self-love is the wrong way to talk about him.

    I did read his blog, though I haven’t seen the videos. As funkyskull said, he probably took things more personally than others. I wouldn’t call it mental illness; it could have been, but didn’t have to be. He might have just been too sensitive, too hard on himself, too unwilling to see how much what he was doing was getting in the way of achieving happiness. Normal people do that. Normal people have their hang-ups and neuroses that make their lives miserable because they never face them. Soldini at least talked himself out of doing this one time before. I think someone who was truly mentally ill wouldn’t have hesitated even once.

    And there are normal people who are constantly, conspicuously angry all the time. Most of them take their rage out in smaller ways, kicking cats and being mean to kids. They keep going, justifying their outbursts, seeming ticking time bombs that never really go off.

    In this case, it did.

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