It’s official: social networking and not the pursuit of money is now the source of all evil.
Previously Facebook et al., have been blamed for A) destroying the economy, B) supplying information to Cosa Nostra and C) ruining Christmas. (All those who think the state of the economy has something to do with absurd lending practices and oil flirting with the $100-a-barrel mark will be required to take a remedial class in sensational journalism.)
Now comes the latest word that a social networking site (that would be the et al. mentioned above) are driving teens to kill themselves.
According to reports detectives believe the goal of the suicides isn’t actually death but to have one’s friends set up an online cenotaph and thus gain some postmortem coolth.
“They may think it’s cool to have a memorial website,” one officer told The Times newspaper. “It may even be a way of achieving prestige among their peer group.”
Now I’ve heard more absurd theories — something about Iraq and WMDs comes to mind — but not many. All the reading I’ve done suggests that the key ingredient to suicide is mental illness not internet access.
Sadly this is not the first time I have encountered reports of teens making a fad of killing themselves. When I was in college there was a report of a wave of teens hanging themselves on Long Island. If memory serves experts offered theories ranging from the then-nascent MTV to the ever popular alienation. However further review of the evidence revealed that in fact these were all botched attempts at what the NY Times genteelly referred to as “auto-erotic asphyxiation.”
I could be wrong of course. Perhaps the world has changed even more radically than I realize since I was a teen. That was, after all, back when mastodons and manual typewriters roamed the earth. At the time I was as angst-y as they came — the amount of time I spent listening to Jackson Browne records and reading Yeats could be measured in years. But even I wouldn’t have considered killing myself to get my friends to say nice things about me when I was gone.