We all have a tendency to be obsessed by death, sex, and ourselves. That might sound like a negative assessment but it’s not scary when it’s kept in check by a society that has its heart basically in the right place.
But does ours?
Well, it’s a fact we’re becoming de-sensitised, to people’s pain, deprivation, and loss. This is in no small part due to the rolling news channels that infiltrate our homes at all hours of the day and night. It’s no longer shocking to see the aftermath of a bomb blast, or the carnage of a terrible train wreck.
Not as shocking as it once was anyway.
There’s something else though, something that may be a bit more disturbing. You might have noticed it, a championing of the winner/ loser approach to life. Our current culture loves winners, but not everyone can be a winner.
What is a winner anyway?
We currently define winner as money in the bank, celebrity, good looks, but primarily it’s money in the bank. All those other things are no good if they can’t deliver the goods, and these days the goods are how much you’re worth. Money defines your value now, not character, intelligence, or morality.
Is that a bad thing?
The problem is that you can’t tell what person is like by how much they have in their investment portfolio. They could be quite unpleasant, certainly not the kind of person you’d want to have lunch with, they could even be a psychopath.
It’s not that our society openly champions serial killers, of course we don’t. There is a prurient fascination with death, yes, and with serial killers, but that is actually completely natural because it reinforces what we are not.
Most of us are not deviant killers. We are not psychopaths.
But are we becoming more like them?
Maybe not individually, but as a collective, it’s easier than ever to be a psychopath and thrive in our society. Psychopathic ideals and attitudes are being openly embraced, such as strength and dominance at all costs. Even being seen as a bully isn’t seen to be such a bad thing.
Having the biggest cash pile is seen as the ultimate goal. Our me, me, me culture where it’s considered perfectly okay to consider yourself before everybody else, is encouraging malignant people to become dominant.
We used to band together to collectively tut tut and show our disapproval to anyone who was too “grabby”, who appeared to be too “selfish”. Now we cheer them on, while wondering what we can learn from them.
All this might be fine in a normal person, who isn’t borderline sociopathic or wouldn’t meet the clinical standards for psychopathy. But many people do meet those standards and they’re not even serial killers.
Not killers but they can cause just as much devastation, albeit in a slightly different way.
Why? Because they are malignant dangerous individuals who cause disruption and chaos wherever they go and only ever think of themselves. Do we really want to champion that in our culture?
We better do something then.
Because it’s happening. Everywhere. Look around, and you can smell the value shift.
I wrote my debut crime thriller, The Watcher about a psychopath. I made a study of psychopaths and their character traits, including several infamous serial killers like Charles Manson and Ted Bundy and I found many common threads.
Bundy and Manson both displayed many of the kind of personality traits that are applauded today. Bragging about one’s talent is now seen as “promoting yourself”, while being manipulative is now seen as “smart”.
In my novel, my lead antagonist is a violent and dangerous psychopath who can completely justify harming and hurting his young female victims in the most vicious way because it makes him feel better.
Why? He’s a deeply damaged individual with a highly traumatic childhood but that doesn’t go the whole way to explaining why he became what he became. After all, many people have horrendous childhoods and don’t go on to become psychopathic killers.
Mental imbalance is another obvious explanation but I’d like to venture one more. I think that a killer like the one in The Watcher, is also enabled by society. We hide those who do others harm sometimes, or perhaps they find it easy to conceal themselves in our midst. We don’t stand up to bullies, even though we know we should.
Am I wrong? Have we actually become more empathetic as a society not less? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the subject so feel free to comment below with your own opinion.
Pre order your e-copy of THE WATCHER at getbook.at/thewatcher or purchase a paperback copy right now from the same link, and make sure to join me on Facebook here tomorrow for THE WATCHER's official launch party on FACEBOOK AT: https://www.facebook.com/events/1541000742597845/
I’ll be giving live author readings, hosting Q+A’s about the book, and giving away prizes, including $25/ £25 Amazon Giftcard and a wine and cheese hamper.