This past Sunday a South Korean pop singer/ actress named U;Nee (유니) was found hanging from the doorframe of her apartment by her grandmother in an apparent suicide. She was 26, my sister’s age. I knew nothing about this girl. The only reason I knew of her was because she was a guest on an Xman episode I watched on YouTube. Still, the news of a celebrity taking their own life gave me goosebumps. From most reports it was said that she was suffering from depression for which she was taking medication for. Though the onslaught of mean and hateful comments on her blog were a contributing factor of her demise.
According to further articles regarding this form of malicious behaviour, perpetrators who have been caught are often shy, timid people who are either in school or jobless. A psychiatrist explained that these types of people, in principle, do not intend to physically harm their victims, but use them to lash out aggression they normally would not be able to in the real world. – The pen, or in this case, the keyboard is indeed mightier than the sword.
I remembered when I started blogging and talking to bloggers who were A-Listers exactly what I should expect from the cyber community. There may be stalkers and people who feel justified in saying mean and hateful things without knowing you. Whatever happened to, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”? Since when did life online justify lack of civility? Anonymity doesn’t make a person safe, it makes them cowards afraid to contribute something meaningful to an alternate existence that shares in thoughts and ideas.
With the high percentage of our fellow yellow brothers and sisters reaching out to one another, via WWW, there are a percentage of them who choose to reach out and slap another. I’m not talking about criticism or debate either (that’s for another post), I’m talking about the stuff that breeds hate. And sometimes, we can’t tell the difference. When looking at our shared values, our Asian roots in comparison to our North American counterparts, the upbringing is massively different.
The difference is this; a child comes home with an A- on his report card. North American household would put that on the fridge and rejoice with a night-out. The Asian household would slide their glasses to the end of their nose and ask, “How come you didn’t get an A+?” So if a child keeps on being told that despite their best efforts, they’re still not good enough, imagine what kind of future they have among their confident and nurtured counterparts. Something, somewhere gives, and hence the masked anonymity of the World Wide Web – trouble is, because of the mask, they don’t consider the eyes reading on the other end – just like those eyes behind the glasses.
Rest in Peace Unee.