Lately I have been examining the reactions to the recent suicide of 15-year-old Amanda Todd, and it has raised this question in my mind: Where do we draw the line on what we say about those who are deceased?
Death is a very touchy subject and should be taken seriously, but in this case, snide comments have been made online, questioning Todd’s past.
When I hear about a suicide like this, it breaks my heart. This was a very young girl who was intensively bullied.That, combined with other issues, led to the devastating loss of her life.
Yet, despite this tragedy, many people are saying inconsiderate and hurtful things about the victim, mostly on social networking sites.
Why must we focus on something that in no way, shape or form affects any of us at all? It is best in these situations to just keep rude thoughts to ourselves in part, out of consideration for the victim’s family.
We need to consider how we would feel if one of our loved ones died unexpectedly and the news was all over the Internet, drawing criticism for things that are completely irrelevant to the tragedy itself.
Another example of this is when three men were killed protecting their girlfriends in the Aurora, Colo., theater shootings earlier this year. Some of them received hard criticism for allegedly having been cheating on their girlfriends. Yes, cheating is widely frowned upon, but again, this does not justify such rude words about the deceased.
It blows my mind that so many people disregard the real tragedy and choose instead to focus on something as irrelevant as the victims’ pasts.
There are many other cases where we see inconsiderate actions toward the deceased. I think one of the reasons we are seeing more of this is because of growing apathy toward death in our society. We see death every day in the news, in movies and videogames, and the more we are exposed to it, the less shocking it becomes.
Another influence is social media. Take memes — items of pop culture propagated via word of mouth, usually used to be funny, as described by urbandictionary.com. As much as I love them, they also can be used inappropriately, such as in the Todd case where a posted meme read, “Thirsty? Drink bleach,” with Todd’s image in the background. Many people look at these memes as harmless jokes, but in reality, they can be inappropriate and hurtful to the families involved. Often, people don’t think about this.
I just hope more people can learn to bite their tongue, reconsider what they are saying and how it will affect people, and also learn to have more empathy for these individuals and their families rather than being mean spirited.
As the saying goes, don’t point your finger at someone, because when you do, you will have three more pointing right back at you.
To contact Paris Burris, email firstname.lastname@example.org.