Suicide and social media.

If you have not been living under a rock the past few days, then we all know the case of Amanda Todd. If you have, then I’ll do a quick wrap up for you.

Essentially, Amanda Todd was like any other fifteen to eighteen year old in North America. I am not saying that to make her case any less tragic (because in all honesty, suicide is a terrible thing, and I for one cannot imagine the pressure one has to be under in order to seriously consider ending it all before seventy), but let us face it, apart from her death and circumstances, she is like any other North American teen. Do I think there is any exception to her case, no I don’t. I think the only difference between her case and the case of some others is that she had the audacity to post a video of her situation on Youtube, and she shortly committed suicide after multiple attempts before said youtube video. Now, what led her to have depressive suicidal thoughts is that she was online, and was having a video conference with an older gentleman. He convinced and pressured her to flash him her breasts and she complied. Shortly after, he tracked her down on facebook and then sent copies of a photo he took of her breasts to everyone that was on her friend list.

There are many reasons why she committed suicide. Personally, I think the prevailing reason for her suicide is that she happens to live in the unfortunate age of social media. Don’t get me wrong. The internet is amazing. Instead of volumes upon volumes of encyclopaedia, we now have the almost universal Wikipedia where people can find almost anything in one spot that doesn’t take up too much personal space (but is probably wreaking havoc on the founder in trying to physically store all that information).  Social media is also amazing because you can connect with lost childhood friends that you have not seen in ten years or more. In the case for many different groups, like Occupy (which personally, I think is a load of bull, but to each their own), and ‘hacktivists’ such as Anonymous, and even more importantly to the average guy. For example, my father recently joined a group where they were against changing his degree from to say that he graduated from a different rather than his original school because his school got bought out by a bigger and better school.  But unfortunately social media nowadays has spiraled out, beyond the control of the average under-funded public schools.

I do not know what age group frequents this blog, but please imagine this for me. A time before internet. During this magical time before internet, it was very easy to disappear into the big wide world, and in all honesty the world was bigger back then to the average person. So if you ever got a bad name or a bad reputation in one city, it was very easy to remake yourself without having to worry about anybody having the dirt on you. But to quote a line from The Dark Knight Rises, “Nowadays, any kid with a cell phone can look up what you did five years ago.” I personally used the anonymity of moving to recreate myself. It usually shocks people to learn that I was a big time bully when I was 10-13 years old. Then when I moved to a different city, I decided to reinvent myself (mostly because being the bad guy was not as entertaining as the television shows and movie leads you to think). Nowadays, people do not have that opportunity, and I think that opportunity should be at least an option for everyone. I mean… I remember being five years old and flashing my (non-existent) boobs to two male friends of mine at the time. If you’re wondering why, we were five and curious so I do not hold that against them (especially since I saw way more penis that day than I was probably ready for). Did this come back to bite me at all? No, it didn’t, because they did not have the ability or opportunity to whip out a cell phone or a small personalized camera of any sort to film or record something like that. Does anybody remember I did something like that? Probably not, at least not until I remind them. Hell, I will probably get more flack on this blog about it then I have for all my life thus far.

Ultimately, this comes back to my personal belief that people should not have own social media until they’re in college. I believe things like Facebook and Twitter should stay for the adult population. Honestly, I do not think we know what we are doing half the time when we post up photos and statuses and tweets onto the internet, because most of us don’t have that gift of foresight of how this might come back to haunt us. But at the very least, our sense of self would have matured and developed by then, whereas the average teen, where they are just going through puberty, just developing their bodies and minds, and just developing their senses of self will not be physically or mentally capable of this type of constant media exposure. Let me put it this way. Facebook and twitter will constantly put a child in the spot light, very much like child movie stars and other such A-listers. If Michael Jackson is any indication of how people might turn out after constant media exposure from childhood forth then I think children should not be allowed to sign up for social media before the age of eighteen, or whatever the legal adult age is in whatever country. This is not to exclude them from social circles or whatever, but it is for their own protection.

Do I think that Amanda Todd should have flashed a stranger her breasts on the internet? No, of course not. But I also think that Amanda Todd was, by legal definition, a child and was not fully aware of what they were doing, and thus is what led to her ultimate demise. Do I blame her peers who tormented her to the point of suicide? Partially. But if Amanda Todd is a child, then by extension so are her peers and it is very possible that her peers also did not know what they were doing when they bullied her. I do blame the adult who circulated the photos online when he really should have known better. Especially being middle-aged. But at the same time it is not entirely his fault because even during the age of the internet where there was information but no real social media, those photos would not have circulated as quickly as they did. We do need more control on the internet, especially for the younger age group, but at the same time though, where does the line start and where does it end?

As Poison loves to put it, entertain us with your thoughts!

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