Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Facebooking Till Death Do Us Asunder

A few weeks back I reflected on what kind of 'alone' life we live that someone can lie dead for 3 years undiscovered. As fate would have it, I then ran into a story of someone who commits suicide in front of friends. Well, maybe not real friends but rather facebook friends. Claire Lin was a Taiwan woman who committed suicide while chatting with friends on facebook. Lin's facebook entry shows her chatting to her friends and alerting them of her gradual asphyxiation. Her last words in Chinese, were: "Too late. My room is filled with fumes. I just posted another picture. Even while I'm dying, I still want FB (Facebook). Must be FB poison. Haha."

Read the full story here



What I found strange was that this was not a troubled teenager but rather a 31 year old woman. The article suggests that she had issues with her boyfriend who was the one that found her dead the next day. Also it was strange that none of her friends contacted the police though with the virtual nature of internet, one cannot probably be sure of someone's location or indeed if they are serious in their allegation.

For me the issue here is maybe that while social networking makes us feel connected, maybe we really are not. What's your take on this?

17 comments:

  1. My first reaction when I read that story a few weeks ago was why didn't her friend do anything. Then I read a related story which suggested that people didn't know what to do as many of them didn't know her well enough to know how to stop her or who to call so that they could stop her. I guess that means, she wasn't really connected in the sense of live people who knew how she could be reached.

    I feel I have some "real" connections on line but the truth is, if I needed to contact someone or their families, I wouldn't know how to do that in most instances. In fact, I've realized this in my own community. More and more people's lives are so busy that you really don't get time or opportunity to mix and mingle with families and friends of friends. This is especially true when people are moving all the time.

    The internet and on line "connections", as loose as they may be at times, are one way for people to feel less alone. In the sad case of the woman in question, she clearly did not want to be alone in death.

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    1. Thanks for you comments. I think that we are also becoming more guarded about personal information. I could meet you in the city for coffee or lunch but never introduce you to my family or invite you to my home. At the end of the day, the relationship is only between you and me and that is why should I see you in distress, I will have no idea of the people in your life who I can contact!

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    2. Hi Charles, I'm wondering why you could meet me in the city for coffee or lunch but never introduce me to your family or your home? Where I live, it is true that people spend a lot of time on the computer these days but thankfully hospitality is still in order. People often get together for a BBQ or dinner where they invite others to come and enjoy a meal.It is difficult doing this during busy lives and some are better at making time than others. I always think a social event or invitation to one's home does not mean my host has to reveal themselves to me more than they are comfortable with.

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    3. Harkening back to your last story, the ones we tend to invite to socialize are not usually our immediate neighbours. Though in some neighbourhoods they have what they call "block parties" so that is for the express purpose of meeting neighbours so one doesn't feel so isolated from those that live next door or near by.If you live in an apartment it is not likely there will be a "block party". That is more for single family dwellings but some apartments will have a reception or dinner at occasions like Christmas which I think is nice. These are all ways that people are trying to ensure a sense of connectedness to real, live people continues.

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    4. As you aptly put it, there is the element of being "busy" so you feel unable to create time to host people. Meeting at an eatery or event is more convenient. Then there is the increasing element of "privacy", but I think mostly people don't want others to see how they really live behind the public facade. Of course I am talking about mostly the urban community.

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  2. Someone I was very close to committed suicide. He had a terminal medical condition and he decided to end it all before it became too difficult for him to cope with. Before he died he telephoned everyone he was close to - he chatted amiably with them, said he was going out of town for a few days and would be out of contact. No-one suspected a thing, no-one realised he had phoned anyone else until his body was discovered a couple of days later.

    I wonder if this young lady really intended to commit suicide or was making a dramatic gesture which backfired? It seems to me very odd that she would want to do it so publically unless she was hoping someone would stop her.

    All very sad.

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    1. That was my conclusion as well, maybe deep down she was willing that someone would respond and stop her?

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  3. I can't imagine what would drive a person to commit suicide and want an audience. Other than that deep down she would wanted to be stopped.

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    1. Yap, but then we can never really know what is going on inside one's mind in such situations.

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  4. am still amazed i would take my life infront of other people on camera. It makes me think social networks makes us think we are connected to everybody in the world while in real sense nobody in the world of social networks really gives a rats ass about our problems maybe cos they too have their own

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    1. What I find sad is that these are slowly taking over real connections. Even when you meet people nowadays, they spend most of the time on their phones tweeting or on facebook.

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  5. We recently had a case of suicide - someone in the Facebook group and it shattered many of us. The sad thing is that even though this lady lived in close proximity to one of the group and that person had been helping her out, she still took the awful step. When someone is depressed, they will find a way of isolating themselves, sometimes pretending to have a large circle of friends, but not really revealing much about themselves. I think that relationships in general are changing and Facebook is just a reflection of that.

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    1. Dear Corrine, sorry for your loss. I suspect that this is the person Rimly did a post on? As with anything else in history, cultures will always change. I think our challenge is to be conscious of the change and manage it for our own good. We now have 'more' friends on Facebook than we have in real life. I am not saying that this is necessarily bad but do we ever pause to think about the quality of these friendships?

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    2. Yes, Charles, the same person. I agree with you that we have to manage social media in a conscious way. It's important that we take the trouble to connect in person as online with the same consideration and care.

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  6. Again @Otieno another sad story about the loneliness that some of us quietly suffer despite the fact that there are over 7 billion of us - lonely planet or what?

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    1. The question is what is really causing this loneliness?

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  7. Times, society and relationships are changing and I think a little bit of reflection on friendships and relationships does one some good.

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