Of Social Media and Social Suicide

Of Social Media and Social Suicide

Sunday, March 27, 2022 2:00 pm


By Folorunso Fatai Adisa

“I’m not afraid of death; I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”— Woody Allen. Those words of Woody Allen, an American film director, are not just captivating; they are also compelling. And frightening too.
Although in Western philosophy, as surmised by Martin Heidegger in his Being and Time (1962 p.289),  “As soon as man comes to life, he is at once old enough to die,”. Truly, death is no respecter of age. Incontrovertibly, the saint and the sinner are both condemned to death and whoever does not die today will certainly do another day. But in one of the numerous submissions of my people, they say, “Ikú ọ̀dọ́ ò da.” Yes, it saddens the elders (good ones) whenever they hear the horrible news of a youth’s death.
However, today, the news of youth attempting suicide is rife in our society. To me, it is becoming  execrably worrisome. When I had a chat with a friend last week, she forwarded a message to me. Therein, a friend of hers said she would have attempted suicide if not for the thoughts of the emotional devastation that would arrest her parents. I was shocked.
Aside from the deathly state of the economy and the burgeoning level of unemployment that has  partly made most youths who are either unemployed or underemployed a walking vessel of sadness and house of suicidal thoughts, social media have also contributed, a great deal, to the astronomical rise in suicide and ritual killings.
The e-world has exerted so much e-pressure on most youths to the extent that most youth can no longer differentiate between what is real and what is not— mirage and reality. Too many broken hearts lie behind many smiling faces.
There is also a silent, powerful, and the dangerous dimension of having low self-esteem that people unwittingly entangle themselves in through social media— Known as “amour propre”—, many people have felt hurt, unloved, deserted, and inferior just because their posts or photographs have less “likes” than their friends’or because they could see their friends or others displaying some level of affluence which they feel they( the victims) couldn’t match up with. We have seen how youths, especially, slide into depression because of some unrealistic social media lifestyle.
Consequently, they become withdrawn, frustrated and desperate to gain people’s attention – all for nothing. Activation of unhealthy rivalry. I refer to this as “Social Suicide”. Using social media/other people’s lives as  yardsticks to measure your success and/or achievement is debasing at best and ridiculous at worst.
The meat of the matter is: it is indeed a trying time— especially for the youths. From the disturbing menace of unemployment, (peer) pressure, academic troubles, migration issues to failed relationships amongst others; most youths are having a tough time dealing with the aforementioned situations. And it has turned their minds to a pressure cooker
My anxiety is that the world is approaching cultural homogeneity, through electronic colonialism and supra connectivity. Since our perception field is littered with needless pedantry, unnecessary display of affluence etc. in view of unrestricted flows of the aforesaid, we must learn to sieve or cherry pick. And we have to realise that social media is largely different from the real world that we are living in.
I will suggest that parents, guardians and friends check on their children/wards/chums. Do not assume they are fine. Help them get through their difficulties. And sermonize them that life is not a bed of roses, that someone “Carrie’s it so well” doesn’t mean it is not heavy. Sometimes, emotional support is enough to make their waving sea of troubles turn still water. I believe you’d rather write a thrilling tribute on their success(es) than writing an elegy.
Overall, our today is yesterday’s future, yet today’s future will still be filled with surprises. The emerging convoluted world could only be survived with total education and wisdom. It is time to tell our youths: “Ma lo sare moto kolu keke!”
Folorunso Fatai Adisa, a Communications Specialist and Public Affairs Analyst, writes from Abeokuta.
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