Altas Shrugged—and Murdered Society

According to this NYT article, Steven Paddock’s life ambition was to make as much money as possible to become completely self-sufficient, which he accomplished. He then became a career gambler, to make even more money. (I would surmise that he probably had a gambling addiction, but that’s not necessarily relevant to the shooting.) He bought several homes and spent his time traveling to each, but never really lived in any of them. He had few friends, few social contacts. He was said to have spent lavishly on his intimates and friends in gambling casinos, but in that sense he related to people through money. He was a completely disconnected, isolated individual, socially “locked in”, unable to connect with anyone. The only meaning in his life was to be wealthy enough to be completely self-sufficient. I would say he was the perfect prototype of the Ayn Rand Individual depicted in her novel Atlas Shrugged. So the product of a lifetime of hyper-individualism, disconnection, isolation and self-sufficiency was that he murdered a mass of people at a concert, people who were enjoying an experience of connectedness, togetherness and mutual pleasure. Large arena concerts are inherently social events where the crowd dynamics and the sonic experience exceeds and engulfs the individual, where one feels a part of something greater than oneself, albeit in a very materialistic, consumer sort of way. Steven Paddock murdered ‘social connection.’

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