Following the recent, untimely, and extremely sad suicide of television presenter and celebrity Caroline Flack – I thought it important to write a post on mental health. The reason I have chosen a featured image of me in a bikini is because I would like to use this image as a representation; it represents a portrayal of ourselves in our best light. This is often the case with social media, we edit and we filter and we crop ourselves to our own idea of perfection. We wish to look successful, classy, sociable and more than anything, happy. Quite often this portrayal can be a façade, it does not reflect the reality of our individual circumstances or the real state of our mental health. And this is seen in the case of Caroline Flack, a young, attractive, successful TV presenter that had her life ripped out of her hands by the very industry that launched her into success. The Media.
I believe due to the court case where Caroline’s ex-boyfriend accused her of assault, this was the catalyst for the media attack against Caroline, and the reason that people are (rightfully) holding the media accountable for this young ladies death. However, what if I told you that I personally do not believe that the media is to blame? Allow me to elaborate.
Before we start a rampage against the media, first we must understand a few things. When I studied my Journalism degree we were taught that it is almost impossible for a journalist to be 100% unbiased / impartial. Every individual is influenced throughout their life by genes, cultural and social experiences that can cause a bias within their views, opinions and perspectives. On a very basic level, take this as a prime example; I am biologically a female, so reading a story concerning a female with an issue that strictly only applies to females – I could resonate and empathise with this, being a female myself.
My point is that journalists are human. They write for corporations that serve a purpose of selling a story, when we read these stories we are interpreting a perspective shaped by an individual / or an organisations biases. This is fundamentally why I do not blame the media for Caroline’s downfall. Yes they publish sensationalised stories, but this is a bigger part of a supply and demand chain – so what does this say about the general public? In addition to this, social media has given the general public a platform to voice their opinions in a way they could not in the past. Maybe the Twitter hate, the hurtful comments on Facebook or the abuse on Instagram is what pushed Caroline over the edge? But Social media is not to blame either.
Us or Them?
Who uses these platforms? Who trolls the internet to read these celebrity stories and then forms opinions on these people as if we know them personally? The answer is us, we do. We all have a responsibility to think. Think before you speak, think before you criticise someone or something. And if you don’t understand something, instead of being ignorant or offensive stay quiet. Maybe that girl on Facebook who is always posting about her weight loss, maybe she has a secret eating disorder and her only way of feeling heard is expressing herself on her social platforms. Maybe the girl constantly posting half-naked pictures on Instagram has a huge insecurity and self-esteem issue, and the attention she receives online makes her feel worthy. Before you judge, before you comment and before you criticise others, just think, second guess yourself – because as cliché as it sounds, you never know what someone is going through.
I believe everybody needs to learn to think, think critically and second guess what is presented before your eyes. Hold yourself accountable for your actions and your words, because let’s face it, when it comes to these individuals suffering from mental health issues, words can make all the difference.
Please, if you take anything from this post let it be that we all need to be better at thinking.