I had hoped never to write another one.
But the recent sorry excuse for reportage – a pathetic hotchpotch of biased comments with concerted, subtle, yet vicious splotches of slut-shaming and vindictive, malicious comments and misinformation following articles, allowed to stand by newspaper editors who ought to know better, has put paid to that hope.
I may be wrong, but it seems to me that some murders and suicides that happen locally get more column space and extensive audio-visual media coverage than others. As a corollary, there is a national discussion by self-styled experts about whys and wherefores.
The media relies on the fact that its audience laps up inaccurate, oversimplified and potentially dangerous, sensationalised reports. I was perturbed at the words and out-of-context sound-bites dug out from statements.
In other sections of the press, we are told that bullying leads to suicide. However, nowhere have I seen it stated that mental manipulation, whether or not it is Gaslighting, may lead to a similar end for the victim. Neither have I seen links to helplines, except once, just in case copycat suicides are in the offing.
I am told that ‘journalists’, whatever that term means these days, have to stuck to fact and not offer opinion – that is the domain of bloggers and / or opinionated bitches like myself, and, apparently, the people who regularly trawl the virtual news-sites to leave their insidious, warped points of view for our delectation.
It is not easy to ‘know everything’ about something that happens. And yet, multifaceted issues are fed to us in drips and drabs, in a seemingly logical manner, in a bid to sway our judgements and mould our conclusions to match the agendas of those who have something to hide.
At this point, I have to ask many, many questions. If you knew your friend was shoplifting or doing drugs, or riding his motorcycle hell for leather without a crash helmet, would you shop him? Or would you not want to get involved, lest you be tarred with the same brush by ‘ignorant adults’?
If you assume it’s just a phase, or that it is not your business… would you, then, hide the fact that he was having sex with minor? If you thought he was a megalomaniac, or sociopath, psychopath, or any other kind of –path, whether or not he had a history of underlying mental illness would you seek help, or would you cover for him because “that is what friends do”, while secretly envying his stud-luck with the girls?
Because of course, there is only one thing worse for a girl than to be called a slut – and that’s to be called a prude. Still, alas, when a man and a child have sex, the man gets high-fives, but the girl loses respectability. Even when he, shudder, shock horror, expresses trepidation that he will be branded a paedophile.
If, on the other hand, someone told you that all of the above could precipitate a death because the person involved fell into an “at-risk category”…would you change your mind? Or would you shrug and say “shit happens?” ignoring the fact that the warning signs were there all the time?
If you had an acquaintance who always seemed sad, would you approach her? Now let’s take this point farther. If you had a friend who self-harmed because she was lonely, and felt excluded, would you ‘do something about it’, or would you assume she was showing off, or worse, that she was ‘in good hands’ because someone else had her back. Is it really possible for just one person to have anybody’s back, in these circumstances? Nobody in a position to do so has yet explained that suicide is not an automatic response to feelings of rejection, depression, anxiety, despair, and isolation.
The non-sheep of us have been hauled over the coals for pointing out that you do not fall from a height without breaking a limb or four; that you do not even consider the possibility of a suicide attempt failing; that you do not keep a kid out at night of you know she is listed as missing; that sexts of minors constitute child pornography; that a person’s Facebook wall is not usually removed by anyone except himself… and this cannot be done when you do not have access to it.
I chided a journalist for treating the death of Lisa Marie so flippantly and histrionically, and asked him whether he would have extracted the same quotes from a social site, had she been his little sister. He did not reply.
As part of the research for this article, I clicked a random photograph on “See who’s here” on Ask.fm. Just for the record, there is no need to have an account with the site, to do this. The very first, and only, ‘conversation’ I saw was “il-hara kemm nobodok / mur aqbez / omgzz / suwisajd”.
Is it possible that this kind of activity is ‘fun’? Healthy, and psychologically sound, it certainly is not.
Gossip feeds the voracious appetitive of idle minds; note the hullaballoo about L’Wren and Peaches Geldof, which may not, after all, have been a suicide but due to an extreme diet.
This spawns the disgusting phenomenon of writing schlock – in error-riddled English – to attract audiences.