While his final video has been widely viewed, far fewer have seen or read his 137 page document entitled My Twisted World.
I took several hours this morning and read it in its entirety. I did not expect answers, but hoped to gain a little insight.
While absolutely nothing he wrote, detailed, described serves as justification for his acts of murder, the aptly titled document gives a stark view into his world, and the world around him, as he perceived it.
He scripts out his life from birth to 22, remembering his very young years with fondness, and yes, a little frustration thrown in - a seminal moment apparently being his denied access to The Jurassic Park ride at an amusement park when he was 6 due to his height.
As he chronicles the passing years - his parents' divorce and constant shuttling between an ever changing number of residences; multiple schools; summer camps; a "wicked" stepmother figure; an absentee father, etc - one thing becomes very clear.
That is not an excuse or even an explanation that in any way acquits murdering innocent people. It is simply an observation on the human race in general.
We all need to feel connected. We all want to feel we belong, are accepted, matter.
Babies need to feel nurtured. Toddlers, protected, loved. While we cannot define that longing in those early years, it absolutely exists. Our first truly conscious taste of this yearning hits when we enter school and humans do what we do - we group, we separate, clique.
If lucky, we experience inclusion, the feeling that we have a peer group in which we are accepted, safe. But what of those who hover on the margins? Those whom are viewed as "different" "odd" "weird"?
Exclusion is painful. Loneliness can be debilitating because we are hardwired to seek the company, the security of others.
As years of exclusion go by, heightened by the ever present cruelness of other teens, the feelings of isolation, longing to belong become a hyperfocus. And in the face of crippling social awkwardness, blame and anger soon take hold.
In the case of Elliott, he blamed everyone for his lack of connection - his parents, his siblings, bigger guys, blonde girls. Even when he did have "friends," other boys he connected with via a love of video games, he ultimately grew to blame and hate them, too, as they made connections of their own.
The reality is though, Elliott was largely to blame for his position.
Reading his musings, it is clear he never reached out, simply assumed girls should fall into his lap. When they did not, they were "denying" him what he "deserved." He routinely enrolled and then dropped out of college classes because no girls would pay attention to him or he could not stand to see other guys talking to girls while they ignored him.
I'm sorry, but to every man, woman, and child out there who thinks the world should beat a path to your door because you perceive yourself to be so worthy? Get over yourselves. Breathing is not a reason to be loved. Simply sitting somewhere does not mean the populace will intuit what a spectacular human being you are and rush to your side. And guys? If you want attention from a girl, you need to open your mouth and have something of value or interest come out of it. Girls, the same thing goes. Yes, I realize that tits and ass can do a lot of the talking for you in a bar setting, but have a little more self worth than that.
Other people want to connect, but if all you exude is silence, they will move on to the next human who shows an openness to interaction.
Nothing in Elliott's writing shows he ever did that. He would go on walks in the hopes he would meet a girl, yet he would not talk to any. He would show up at parties and stew, hating the couplings taking place around him, yet he would never approach anyone. He would yearn for connection, but took not one step forward to connect.
In his anger and loneliness, he focused on the one thing he truly felt he was being denied: female affection. Or, let's be real honest here: female affuckion.
"I was giving the female gender one last chance to provide me the pleasures I deserved from them."
That line was written as he was about to turn 22, still a virgin, and had decided to go out and find a party with which to grace everyone with his "supreme" presence. The result? His scowling, fuming, drunkedness, and attempt to physically hurt others earned him a connection all right. An ass kicking that left him bruised, and a broken leg from trying to push others off a ledge only to be the one to fall.
Again, in his worldview, he was a victim, beaten by "brutes" and spurned by "blond sluts."
While a reading of his victimy screed does little more than point fingers every direction but his own, sadly, if even a small percentage of his parents' portrayed behavior is accurate, they knew he was struggling badly, but simply wanted him out of their hair. Yes, they provided therapists, but they also provided a car (and a newer, better car when he whined about "car hierarchy"), an apartment (and a bigger, better apartment when he whined about roommates), money - and they went about their lives, one could say, in the hope that out of sight meant out of mind and trouble. I have a 22 year old. Is she an adult? Yes. But I am still extensively involved in her well being and $upport, and there is a ton of control I can exert if the situation arises.
No parent wants to believe their child is a danger to themselves or anyone else. But when flag after flag pops up, more needs done than simply providing what is being whined for.
That being said, Elliott was not stupid. A reading of his writing shows someone with a command of the language, expression, creativity, extensive thought. These are not ramblings. These are coherent pages of his emotions. Socially stilted and awkward? YES. Had a psychiatrist recently prescribed a medication (which he refused to take after researching it)? YES. Was he completely wrongheaded in his views? YES. Did he write of how frequently he would break down in tears, both privately and to his mother? YES.
That last part would be a huge red flag for me as a parent. If even the most trivial of slights (perceived, or real) were chronically pushing my child to emotional tantrums, I would not just provide them with more and assume all will be ok.
Am I laying it all at his parents' feet? Of course not. Elliott was, if nothing else, a great actor.
As his manifesto winds down to the Day of Retribution, the only thing that ramps up is his belief that his life has been wasted because he has never had a girlfriend. He was convinced that if even one girl had been attracted to him, his whole life would have been different. He comes to the conclusion that since not one girl wanted the "magnificent gentleman" that he was, the entire femlae populace was mentally defective, unable to be trusted to make good decisions in choosing mates. We, in his words, are "cruel by nature."
While reading, I lost track of the number of times I wanted to reach through the manuscript, smack him upside the head, and tell him, "You're an attractive kid. But that's not enough! Your car, sunglasses, designer labels mean NOTHING. You have to show people some personality. You have to open yourself up and risk rejection if you ever want to connect ... with anyone."
Parents, I cannot stress enough the importance of staying connected to your children, paying attention to their world. Have the tough talks about life, love, sex. Be brutal in the truth - no one owes them anything. That their behavior will have the lion's share to do with people wanting to come into their life. That they cannot expect a full life if they do nothing to immerse, engage. Teach them that no matter what they think they see, other people have their own insecurities, suffering, doubts, too. That the grass is rarely greener on the other side of the fence.
And if you have sons, I beg you - teach them to respect girls, from a very young age. Girls are not whores. They are not bitches. They are not simply things to look at, lust after. And they are not cum depositories. Teach them that a short skirt on a girl does not absolve them from bad behavior towards her.
How dare those girls give their love and sex to those other men and not me.
So much was wrong with how he viewed women. So very much from the very beginning when his body began to change and he began to notice the opposite sex.
Puberty is brutal. For both sexes. Hormones erupt, bodies change rapidly, and desire to pair up is strong. It is also natural. But what it is not is deserved. No girl owes a boy sex. And no girl deserves to be treated like an object.
Yes, yes, yes - there are going to be girls your sons encounter that are bereft of actual intellect, choosing to rely solely on their physical assets. Girls who have been taught no better than the boys who behave equally bad.
But in the realm of truly connecting with another human being, sex is icing, not the cake.
No one ever explained that to Elliott.
In his final words, he writes Humanity has rejected me.
No, no it hadn't. Elliott simply was never taught that if you want someone to come in, you have to be willing to reach out.
Sadly, when he finally did decide to reach out, it was with knife and gun in hand.