Too often we see acts of terrorism and friends/family come on TV to say, “he was such a nice boy, we never saw this coming.” I call BS. There were signs. You chose to bury your head in the sand and disavow your responsibility to “see something, say something”. Once before in my life, I saw someone perform a heinous act, after the fact. No one knew it was coming. But in retrospect, I talked to some of his family…there were signs.
I have come to live my life not to be “that guy”. This is me speaking up and controlling the narrative, because the person in question keeps deleting his dangerous content from Facebook. As a data person, I know that FB has never pretended to be ephemeral…if we need a subpoena, please secure one.
My cousin’s son Dylan (his real name) has long shown tendencies for anger and vitriol. Over the past weekend, in the wake of the Ohio and El Paso shootings, it has reached a new level. Dylan has come to believe that all guns should be removed from society. He thinks they are the sole cause of the shooting deaths and evil now pervading our country. He is young (~25) so he has not seen much of the world and he has lived a very sheltered life, shielded from the realities around us. He believes in his opinion unequivocally, further, he can’t even conceptualize that there are other opinions. Because of his childhood and being told that he was ‘special’ and afforded all sorts of praise (and possibly being On the Spectrum) he believes that his opinions are beyond reproach. Our family has long had a diverse opinion-set, and we argue them fervently. But you will ALWAYS see respect and love for one another. Not from Dylan.
My memory of these events and quotes may be slightly diluted because Dylan either deleted posts or unfriended me. On Sunday, Dylan posted some anti-gun message in the wake of the shootings, proclaiming that we need to take guns away from all the ‘crazy people.’ My mom responded with a question asking something to the effect of, ‘how do you respect a person’s right to self defense.’ Dylan proceeded to tell her that if she felt that way that she was a “fucking moron.” My sister came to my mom’s defense with a well worded message respecting his opinion and asking him to not use vile language. Dylan’s response was to also call her a “fucking moron” who if she believed anything other than what he believed “deserved much worse” than that language. Haley and I were driving to Cornell and she informed me of this skirmish. I was alarmed, but did not have a chance to reply for several hours.
You don’t mess with someone’s mom, siblings and definitely not a spouse. You just don’t. I will not tolerate it, from anyone. But Dylan has no respect for family. My parents watched from within the same car, as his mother said something to which he disagreed, and a 13 year old Dylan launched into a profanity laced tirade against her. There was no negative repercussion. A woman who sacrificed so much of her life for him and his special private schools, couldn’t get an ounce of respect. He had an embarrassing male role model of an incompetent father who wanted a buddy, not a son. Years later when his mother finally gained the strength to leave an emotionally abusive marriage, Dylan’s father weaponized her choice to ally the son against his mom. Those of us who have gone through divorce know how devastating even the smallest slip of letting your relationship into the lives of the kids, can be on them. Imagine intentionally using that situation as a tool to alienate a parent. I believe Dylan has not spoken to his mother in 8 years. I have email correspondence he addressed to the family referring to his mother by her first name in the third person, calling her a “whore” using language that ALL of us found offensive. A few years ago he leveraged his family’s love to extort money from us through a Kickstarter campaign for a movie that never came even close to fruition, but informed us another movie was released in its stead. Huh?
So on Saturday Dylan was bullying my family. He clearly has no respect for his elders. In my first reply, I told him he was being a bully and “trumpist” and that despite people who are scared to stand up to the president’s vitriol and anger and bad language, I am not. I would use the same tools in reply unless he issued an apology to my family. He of course did not. He doubled down. He said he was sick of trying to formulate intelligent arguments and now he was just going to insult and express anger. As promised, I replied by making fun of his naivety, age, and weakness. When you are bullied, punch the bully in the nose.
Ironically, Dylan replied by accusing me of being a bully and deleting his posts where he was bullying my mom and sister. He altered his history to conform to the narrative that he needed to justify his actions. This is scary. This is a psychological case study in the first stages of the angry young man about to do harm. You know it. My family should know it. My family that continue to enable and defend him for being “who he is” SHOULD KNOW IT!!!
When I am interviewed after Dylan does some harm on the world and they ask me did I see it coming I will say, “Hell yes I did, Dylan has been a psycho for years.” The world is full of these people operating in the shadows. Showing their true selves in private circles. The irony of Dylan’s anger and hate about being against gun ownership, should not be lost on someone observing the irony of a pro-lifer who kills the abortion doctor because they “killed” babies. My mom is scared of Dylan. I am concerned about what he might do.
I have written before about being Sheepdog Strong to foresee a potential tragedy coming. And I know that because of people like Dylan so close to me, this vigilance is pertinent at all times. The world is a scary place. In reality, you can’t just love away hate. You have to always be ready to protect yourself, to be self-reliant.
People like Dylan are the reason why I own guns for self-protection. Full stop.
There is only one remedy for the self-absorbed egocentric wacko with an agenda. Dylan needs medical and psychological help. I want to say it loud and publicly. I am too far away to confront him directly. All he has are a few friends around him. I hope they will do the right thing. Someone is going to get hurt by this young man. Let it be known, this was preventable. This unstable radicalized man showed lots of signs. There will be no surprise when he self-justifies his actions to hurt people that disagree with his opinion. He doesn’t have the mental capacity and EQ to absorb the reality of the world. Thus he lashes out with anger. Anger taught by his father. I understand that he is dating someone now. What if she disagrees with him? What if she breaks up with him? What if she cheats on him?
If you know someone like this. Write it publicly. Make it known. Mental health is in a severe crisis. As a startup CEO, we experience a unique kind of stress. My role models write about it often. I recognize my own limitations in dealing with these challenges and how they cause problems with my personal relationships. It’s ok to admit that you need help. I have, I am working through it. Until we change HIPPA laws and re-examine the stigma of mental health challenges, we will do nothing to prevent unstable youths from doing the world harm: There will be more chaos. It will happen with any manner of weaponry (see McVeigh, Atta, Tsarnaev), anything these wackos can get their hands on to justify their egocentric anger.
I saw something. I said something. He is NOT a nice young boy.
This is beyond tragic and an example of how the lack of access to quality mental health care in this country is the crisis. Guns are not the crisis. Inappropriate use of guns are simply a symptom.
Found out this weekend that, I have a family member who is very down. Works full-time in a field that he has a degree in. Lives and works in New Hampshire, but cannot get care he is able afford. Brian and I will address it now that we are aware, but he suffered alone for several months not wanting to be a burden.
Dylan may be on the spectrum. My Moose is on the spectrum. It is not an excuse or justification for the behavior he has demonstrated toward your precious mother and sister, among others. That is either a serious mental health issue or an even more serious character issue, but not a development issue.
You are brave for putting this out there. Only in real dialogue is progress and change possible. May your blog post be the catalyst for change in your situation and an eye opener for other families to afraid of their image to make their challenges known.
Thanks Christine. You make a great point about being On the Spectrum. And hopefully my supposition is not read as a conclusion. I don’t know all of the details of Dylan’s psyche and I am certainly ignorant about Autism.
I think everything happens for a reason. We are in a national conversation on hate and national terrorism. Our family reflects a micro community of that same conversation. Ignoring the sign posts and not taking proper action is implicit agreement. Our country needs to spend more time and money on mental illness, we need to bring it out of the shadows and address the root problems. We have developed methods and medicines that have dramatically helped mitigate mental problems, but very often patients refuse to take the pills and return to their ‘old self”. There are technological advances that will address some of these issues. Let’s keep the conversation going, maybe we can heals as a family and as a nation. I continue to pray that we do.