Alleged Canadian killer Luka Rocco Magnotta was finally arrested on Monday at a Berlin internet caf.
The intense global manhunt followed the discovery of the body of 33-year-old Lin Jun in Montreal last week, or his torso at least. A foot and a hand were sent in the post to political parties.
According to reports, he was caught after the caf owners recognised him from the intense media coverage and saw him looking up porn and stories about his crimes.
Magnotta has already been a porn actor and auditioned to be an underwear model on a reality TV show in Canada.
And The Sun in London reported that Magnotta he turned up at their offices last year and denied he was behind videos of killing kittens, then emailed them days later and said his next crime would involve humans, not animals.
Magnotta is a narcissist, clearly. All his crimes and behaviour has been about feeling the warmth of the spotlight. So has the internet age caused this?
YouTube allowed Magnotta to post his videos. His snuff film of the killing of Lin was posted to an internet gore site, something that obviously wouldn’t have existed 20 years ago. All these pieces of technology have provided a capacity to display one’s crimes, as on a gallery wall with the full knowledge they will cause revulsion and probably criminal charges.
And people do look. YouTube doesn’t just sit there. WE are the ones who sit for hours clicking through video after video until it’s suddenly 3am.
Are 21st century sociopaths caused by the technology or the technology’s audience?
Are we feeding Magnotta and others who feed on the attention? Yes – and on one level there is no way around that when someone is wanted in connection with a serious and brutal crime. The internet and social media is merely amplifying the intensity of the search.
Those social networks that shoot intravenous narcissistic pleasure eruptions into the minds of sociopaths are also the networks that helped catch him.
Magnotta was identified, on the web, as the man behind horrific kitten killing videos in 2010, though he was never convicted in a criminal court. The technology allowed Magnotta to make the videos and gain the attention he craved, AND it caught him. Perhaps he knew that’s how the world now works: you do or create something to pull the world’s gaze toward you, and the world obliges to prove the original action was worth it.
Obviously taking a life, be it animal or human, is not “worth it”, except that it gets you attention. If you’re a sociopath or lack the capacity to distinguish moral and immoral acts, ANYTHING is worth the price of getting that attention. The proverbial 15 minutes of fame might be a bit shorter now in the land of 24-hour TV networks, but the clips and internet trails you’ve created will last forever.
Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik will live forever. Magnotta will too. They will be studied and their actions and words and body language dissected for years. And the victims will be forgotten. They get what they want and there’s no way around it.
You can’t shut off the web or ignore stories of serious and heinous crime. Nor can you have hidden justice where criminals are tried in secret to avoid undue spectacle.
The relationship between society and its criminals, within the digital frames of a YouTube world, is simply different now. There will always be sociopaths, unfortunately. And in an internet world, we will have to work harder to ensure the victims are remembered long after their killers are looking at themselves in a mirror, behind bars for the rest of their natural lives.