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Monday, April 21, 2014

Jojo Tsai and overexposed teens

Someone posted a link to Jojo Tsai's suicide on facebook. It was all in Mandarin, but it wasn't hard to guess the story. In the post, I see a picture taken from a neighbouring building. A slim body in a red dress seems to be lying face down on the roof of a building next to a tall condominium complex. My heart breaks. I don't know this girl, but I can't help wondering how things could go so wrong so quickly. Her final instagram posts are worse than Amanda Byne's disturbing posts a while back. A bed lit on fire, a night time picture staring down a window. When I click on the photo, I realize it shows her thighs dangling off a ledge, probably a window sill. Could anyone change her mind at this point? Could her ex-bf have stopped her with just a message, if he had known? Could one of her thousands of followers have given her hope at the last minute, or was it game over by the time she was posting?

She was a very pretty girl with perfect skin, silky hair, dramatic, with several pictures of her adored ex-boyfriend and some half-naked selfies. Over 30 000 followers (now >50k), she was clearly popular. I wonder if her over-exposure aggravated her sense of loneliness since her boyfriend let her down? I remember being heartbroken before, and most of my friends could not find the right words to make me feel better. Every word made me feel more misunderstood, more hurt, craving to be left alone or otherwise relieved. Now imagine this support, magnified by a factor of 10 000. Could her followers' heartfelt but clumsy support have been overwhelming? I don't know. But I worry that if it is the case, we're helpless.

I have a few younger friends on Facebook. Most of them I don't know very well but I care about them nonetheless. One in particular has often posted similarly dramatic photo captions about love and loss. Some about being lonely, being deceived, or simply misunderstood. Some rebellious pictures. Many posts that I would consider a cry for attention. I've even reached out a few times just to say "hey if you ever need to talk, I'm all ears." You never know, it might save a life. The provoking pictures and lamenting posts get a lot of likes and comments. Many comments are encouraging and sincere, but do they really help? Are those interactions helping him/her move on, improve his/her self-esteem, feel better about life? Or are those comments and likes, no matter how well-intended, widening the perceived gap between them and the rest of the world where acceptance seems to reside?


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