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The silent cry for help.



Lately, an alarming trend seems to have taken over the social media.  Calling it a trend in itself is disturbing, but these incidents that  I came across make me wonder if we can call it by any other name!

You may have heard/read about the young lawyer who tried capturing her suicide on camera before being persuaded to safety. You may also have read about the 24 year old man who live-streamed his suicide on social media before jumping off the 19th floor of a Mumbai hotel, and, most recently, the news of a marathi film producer posting a suicide note on Facebook before ending his life. He mentioned his inability to endure the mental and physical torture by his wife and in-laws after his film failed to rake in any moolah (read flopped).

Horrendous is the word I will use to describe these incidents, and pitiful the stories of the victims. For in a world where everybody is in a rat race, vying to outdo the other by showing off what a perfect life one leads on the social media, people are now using the very same platform to share their wretched real life stories before pulling the plug! It gives us a fair idea about the life we actually lead irrespective of what we brag about on camera! It also gives us a clear picture of how lonely life is fast becoming, despite the thousands of friends we may boast about.

It's a scary metamorphosis our life is going through.   There was a time, not long ago, when we guarded our private lives like a treasure. The story of our life  - good, bad, ugly - was shared  only with our closest friends/family members. These were the people who knew the wonderful as well as the unpleasant stories of our lives. But, today, all we do, is put on display the seemingly picture-perfect lives we live, hide the scars that life gives us, and give the world a peep into our sorrowful lives only before we jump off the ledge.

There are some questions that bother me as I look at these woeful scenarios. Firstly, why are we becoming this pretentious bunch of show-offs and what are we gaining from this exhibitionism? What do we achieve by sharing these picture-perfect moments of our private lives with a world which actually doesn't even care after clicking the 'Like' button? And, if we are so obsessed with showing off the perfect lives we lead, then why are we, on the other hand, sharing the equally wretched moments of our lives that push us to the brink,  instead of asking for help?

What is it that we fear? Are we afraid to expose our miseries to our people?  Or, are we too scared to be turned down because each one is fighting a battle of his own to even extend  their hands in support? The ones, who live-streamed their suicides on social media, were they so tired of fighting  a lonely battle that they yearned for attention,  but were too scared to ask for it?  What did their feeble cry for help really mean? That we have become too busy to care what our people go through, or that we, for all our ostentatiousness, are beyond caring for those who are going through some pathetic times in their lives?

Is life only about the goody-goody stuff that earns us a million likes? Isn't life also about unhappiness, heartbreak and hardships - times when we need to stand by each other's side, supporting one another, no judgements passed?  Isn't it also about being able to voice our deepest fears to people who care?

These are so contradictory  - these two facets of human nature that are evolving by the day. Despite having a hundred friends, we are gradually becoming a 'lonely' species.  Or, are we too reluctant to call out for help? The other day, as I sat in my darkened room, clutching my dead pet's picture in my hands,  feeling desperate and lonely, I found myself hesitant to call up my friend for a heart-to-heart talk. I feared I might be burdening her with my sorrows, which may be minuscule as compared to hers. I also wondered if she even cared/was too concerned about her life to even call up and find out why I hadn't gotten in touch with her in a long time, except sharing inane jokes on Whatsapp! It was only later, after I spoke with her, that I realised that she does care about me a lot, and that I had been only feeding my worst fears - something that we all do during the loneliest moments in our life.

The dreadful thoughts that crossed my mind that day make me wonder - what are we turning into? Couple days ago, I shared a happy picture of myself and my spouse on Instagram, and now, here I was, reluctant to share the dark, scary moments that actually needed to be talked about!

We really need help. But, are we going to ask for it?

I hope we do.







Comments

  1. I think society on the whole needs to step up, Shilpa. We're afraid to share our vulnerabilities with others because we're scoffed at, ridiculed, scorned. Few people are comfortable in their own skins, ready to bare their souls to the world.

    It's easy for bystanders to judge suicide as cowardice. We often don't know what the mentally disturbed person has been enduring for weeks (or months, or years).

    I believe (and I write from experience) that we need to create a support system to help people with mental illness than expect them to step up to the task themselves.

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    1. How perfectly you have summed it up, VIshal!

      This is the exact state we all are in. How we lack the courage to show our true sides to others, to ask for help when the going gets tough. If only we muster the courage to not just share our true selves but also ask for help when in need, I guess we will get the kind of peace we all hanker for!

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  2. I think people are obssessed these days with SM attention and want to potray their dark moments to perhaps let the whole world know what they are going through. We have stopped caring our judgement or opinion of others to a new level with this SM obssession of posting every god damned bit about our life on it!
    We just want to show what we are doing or buying or eating or traveling or.... but we dont stop to think what or how this info is being processed.
    I feel we have become an insular race with all this living alone or becoming high flying achievers. Our lives have only SM as a connect- which sadly we take as a REAL connect.
    We need to go back to our roots, think minimalism, gravitate towards self love and caring for others in the community.
    Well written Shilpa - I connected with what you are trying to say here!

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    1. How true, Shalz! Insular race - an apt label! We really need to connect with each other at a deeper level, where we could not only know each other inside out, but also learn each other's difficulties and reach out to help.

      Ending lives on screen - how much more pitiful could it get?!

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  3. this generation is leading a virtual life and getting disillusioned with the show-off world!

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    1. Yes, Tina...absolutely! I miss the simple life of yore! :(

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  4. I think sharing pics on social media is ok if it's just between your family and close friends. I agree nobody cares if you are sad or happy other than your own close family. I know many people who share everything with their friends especially when they are sad but as you said I also avoid sharing my problems with people who I am not comfortable with.
    But definitely food for thought!

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    1. Yes, Deepa. It's so much more comfortable sharing about your life with your close ones. The world hardly even cares. But, slowly and steadily, we aren't even doing that - sharing our fears with people who care! We ought to go back to olden times when we accepted each other along with their shortcomings and stood by each other through thick and thin.

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  5. Why don't we share our troubles with others? You are right in pointing out each one is deep into their own troubles and they, most often, may not have the energy to listen to someone else's vulnerabilities. I often hear the term 'Friends and families' and wonder who are these friends. 100 of friends but majority of them are virtual who do not even glance at your happy photo. They just leave a like and run away, probably being jealous about your smiling photo after comparing with their own lonely lives. So what does one do? Have family close but then it is only the parents who would be concerned most and they will not be there with us forever. Another way is building a small yet cohesive group (a support system) is definitely the answer where everyone is there to hear anyone who has issues. I am blessed to be a part of one which kept me floating last year when I had hurt my hip and initially had gone into a state of shock. I did not know what to do since I used to live alone with D at that time with husband working overseas and I had no support.
    Shilpa, I can understand the low feeling with losing a loved one, especially a child and Chikoo was with you for 14 years. I want to tell you if you feel like sharing your emotions now or in future, I am here. Feel free to talk or mail to me. I am sharing my phone number and email id in FB inbox.

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    1. That is so sweet of you, Anu! I feel blessed to have such kind and caring virtual friends, who despite never having met extend their support during times of need! That is the kind of people we all need in our lives. Accepting, caring and non-judgemental. That's what will save so much of heartache that life gives us!

      Love and hugs!

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  6. It actually is so scary Shilpa and unfortunately we are falling a prey ourselves. I still reach out to my friends whenever I hit rock bottom for I know they will keep me afloat.

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    1. Yes, Roma. It's only the closest friends who stand by our sides during times of need. Reaching out is something we all ought to do fearlessly! Asking for help and speaking the truth about how ugly life can be is what will help pull us back from the brink.

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  7. Frankly life has become one big wash line. Everyone wants to hang things out there in public view. People are scared to share their sorrows because the world isn't interested in your problems ...sadly when people cry out for help it is often too late

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    1. How true, Sunita! We fear sharing our troubles or our true selves with people - we fear losing those who admire us for what they see about us. If only we learnt to open up about ourselves and about life, things will ease out a lot, isn't it?

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  8. Such a good article and so true. Our modern urban life is making us isolated from our true self. We just want to show off and brag.

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    1. Yes, Balaka! Sad, indeed, is the life we are living these days! I only fear for what is to come!

      Thank you for visiting, Balaka!

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  9. Food for thought Shilpa. Indeed very disturbing to see these disturbing trends on SM. Besides the aspects you've covered another daunting aspect is the impact of such negative exhibitionism on the younger folk. Kids as young as 8 yo (or younger) have SM accounts. What kind of signals will they pick up from this? They will learn to quit when the going gets tough, and blame their misery on family, friends etc. Beautifully written Shilpa. Makes you question the facades we are all living behind.

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    1. How true, Kala! Isn't that so scary? No wonder then that parents live such worried lives, hovering around their kids wondering what it is that they share with the world/learn from the world! And, kids only ape what they find fascinating on screen, without thinking about its pros and cons/unaware about how it will impact their lives! Disturbing, indeed!

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  10. I see two sides to this. While I do think we have become a society that overshares, I know that people who contemplate suicide, do so quietly. In India especially, where the suicide rates were so high and there has never been anyone to talk to, it doesn't surprise me that people now take to social media. While streaming a suicide live is definitely not helpful or okay, I can only imagine the pain they must be going through and yet, having doubts with the hope that someone will reach out to them. Someone will tell them life is worth living. If anything, I do hope in India and the world over, social media can be used for good. That people who are suicidal are able to reach out in better ways to get the help they need. We are more lonely than ever as a society but that doesn't mean we can't access mental health support online. I've been struggling with my mental health and my relationships the past couple of years. It's my online community that I've felt closer too than people in real life. Sad, but true. So I am not yet ready to completely diss social media but I do hope people can reach out for good.

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    1. We invented the social media and it's we who are going to have to suffer, because as you said, people aren't using it wholly for its goodness. Its the disadvantages of SM that get people into trouble. Reaching out to our online friends when in time of need is something we refrain from doing as we are only worried about the impression it will give to people about us.

      SOme of us are sure lucky to be blessed to have met some truly wonderful souls online who we can lean on unabashedly, share our true life stories with, without the fear of being judged.

      I hope people learn to reach out to at least their online friends instead of taking a drastic step when life rears its ugly head.


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  11. This is close to home for many reasons. One is that I suffered in silence for so many years until I wrote my memoir. I wish I had done it a lot earlier because talking off the mask helped so many other people take off theirs and share their pain with me.

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    1. I know, Carol. And, that is what I hope we all follow. It does require loads of courage to show the ugly face of our life to the world, but if we all do it, I am sure many out there will not only come forward to help, but also share with us their own trials and how they faced it all.

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  12. It's sad and scary. Mental illness is a growing issue and yes to an extent social media and the illusion of a specific lifestyle that it projects is a major reason for people's insecurities and anxieties.

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    1. True, Aditi. The illusion that life for people out there is picture perfect is what drives many to end theirs that's fraught with difficulties, instead of asking for help.

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  13. How heartbreaking that those individuals felt that there was no reason for them to live. I cannot even imagine the pain that they were experiencing that caused them to make this shocking and sad choice.
    But I don't think that people only share their "perfect" lives on facebook. I've seen plenty of examples of people sharing their challenges, as well as their triumphs, on social media.

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    1. Alice, people do share their trials and tribulations, their triumphs over adversities, but I feel that the majority of us like sharing only the good stuff that will get us admiration. Sharing the darker side of our life needs courage - the kind many of us don't have. Asking for help is something else we don't often do. Yes, we do ask our closest friends/family for help, but often only after our problems have crossed their limits and we are on the verge of collapse! If only we accepted that life comprised of not just good, but also the bad and the ugly for not just us but also for every soul around us, we will be able to share wholeheartedly and ask for help instead of ending it all!

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  14. Some times I feel that life that we out up out there for others to see is pretentious and fake. There is no truth and even an iota of the real scene behind those pictures is missing. Of course there are those who get depressed and want to seek up but I am not sure who are they reaching out to by being there on social media.
    Instant gratification is what people need these days. All the time.

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    1. More often than not, Parul, it is all fake. We really don't have an inkling of what is behind those masks people share on SM! And, from the looks of it, things are only going to get worse by the day! I miss those olden days!

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  15. You have approached it so well Shilpa and I was shocked to read about the 24 year old live video stream. The other cases also blew the mind but also the lid on the bigger problem that are affecting us. I believe that social media is a misplaced gratification.

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    1. Yes, Vishal, it is! And, the kind of stuff people share on SM, how many people out there are going to get influenced by it all and try to emulate, I wonder! Sad, indeed!

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  16. Oh Shilpa, that is a so well written article - loved it. It is so scary - and the scariest is what some young people think they need to have to be happy - that scares me .... the insecrurity, the hunt for "likes", the comparing with others, with ideals ... its so sad... Sending big hugs to you, hope you are well and happy my sweet friend XXX

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  17. It is so much easier to share your happy moments than to delve into the sad ones. Washing our dirty linen in public is not very savoury. I think that live streaming on social media was a cry for attention for help. So many times people who are depressed are desperately lonely but don't seek help. It is easier for us to judge but in their situation they are in a bottomless pit. Like you mentioned, we are connected on social media but are very lonely. There is no way of knowing that the happy person in the picture on FB or WhatsApp is battling a loss or dejected with a failure. The best thing would be as you mentioned to pick up a phone and talk to a loved one. SM is what we make it to be. There are many people who care genuinely for us but they are not mind reader. Time and again I have found help when I reached out and called someone. I think we need to take a bit of the onus on ourselves too.

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  18. Devastating incidents, all! Those people were desperate and in pain. Nobody knows what really goes on behind the scenes of other people's lives. It's sad that many people care so much about being liked or judged on social media. it's completely superficial! I think they need a better support system in the real world.

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    1. Times have changed,Debbie - and you will know better, you have seen much more of life than I have! We all live superficial lives - only believing all that we observe, without trying to scratch the surface a bit to know the truth that lies beneath! If only we leave aside our egos and our shame and share our shortcomings as well as our troubles and ask for help in time, things will be so much better, isn't it?

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  19. Couldn't have said it better if I tried. And I know in many ways I am part of the problem - I do hide my failures and sufferings while showcasing all my little wins widely on social media. Too many reasons behind that. But we are entering dangerous territory now with people resorting to suicide online as well.

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    1. It is indeed a dangerous territory, doc! Frightening, esp considering how we ape stuff that people share on the social media!

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