I have realised, looking back at my academic experience, that perhaps setting up a blog which forced me to write about subjects related to PR is one of the most enriching experience. So today, I sat there and wondered, what on Earth stops me from doing it now?
The advantage I have when putting blog entries is that I don’t have to think about what to write, I just have to transcribe the debate (well, sometimes it’s more of a rant, really) that goes on in my head every time I read an article, see a passer-by on the street or have a conversation on the phone. And so, here I am, back to stay this time, and the promise I am making to myself is that I will be consistent and thorough in posting as often as I can, trying not to overdo it (this feels like a New Years resolution, but I hope unlike those ones it will last past 2 weeks).
To (re)start with, I saw this article featured on the BBC news homepage today:
Hannah Smith death: Father says daughter was victim of cyberbullies. The story is as appalling as the one of Amanda Todd, bar the former’s attempts to ask for help and if you care to read the details, feel free. The issue I wish to address is not the cyberbullying aspect, but something else entirely that shocked me in the article about Hannah Smith. I’m taking the risk of being unpopular, by picking on an aspect exposed in this article that raises many questions and doubts in my mind, whilst some might think the core idea is the tragedy of the life of a young girl which was tragically ended (however, this is a balanced post that explores both sides of the story, so don’t get too flustered if you completely disagree with my initial point of view until you’ve reached the end).
People’s tendency to use a Facebook account as their diary, where they expose each and every thought they have.
With all due respect to the father’s grief, I think he is using this opportunity to PR himself and gain publicity. The reason I am saying that is because the article says:
Writing on Facebook last Friday, Mr Smith wrote: “Just to let all my friends know my youngest daughter took her own life last night.”
He adds: “Rest in peace my baby and you will never be forgotten xxxxxxx.”
He added: “My heart is broken in 2 and is gonna take a long time to repair i just hope that none of you have to go through the pain im goin through rite now [sic].”
Two things stand out to me: xxx at the end of the second message and the way in which the last message is phrased altogether. The loss of a person dear to you is tragic, be it a friend or a distant relative, but when it’s a child, parent, life partner, the grief is sometimes too hard to bear, and more often than not, one needs the help of people around to be able to overcome the heartache. But displaying that type of behaviour on Facebook, in a public manner (since the newspaper editor had access to them, I’m going to assume the privacy settings allowed public access to the posts), is something which resembles a wish for promotion, rather than a grieving parent to me.
Cry for help or for attention?
Perhaps I’m judging too harshly and I chose the wrong example in addressing this issue, as the issue is of very sensitive nature (I expect raised eyebrows and frowning faces from readers of this entry), but I also think this portrays the extent to which people have forgotten that Facebook has private chat/message for a reason and sensitive matters like this should be utilising that. It does make a difference to know that many people are there for you when you go through a tragedy, but to me once you post something like the messages that can be seen above, your tragedy becomes highly diminished. It took me years to be able to openly speak about the death of one close family member to my friends and even immediate family. Maybe I am different, and bottling up feelings does work agains one’s own benefit, but the two attitudes might be at extreme ends of the scale and, as mentioned in a previous post, middle way is most of the times the golden way.
But here is the underlying concern I have which has become a phobia of mine lately. Has social media emergence turned us into people who need Facebook posts about our own child’s death to attract the attention of the people that matter? And here I shift focus from the dad, who might as well be genuinely devastated by the situation and feels that the only way to get the support and attention required is by utilising Facebook to broadcast a message in the hope that someone will hear and, most importantly, listen to his own cry of help.
And here is where my rant was left without any more answers to the rhetorical questions I ask myself. So, dear reader, what do you think? Are we lost in a sea of likes and re-tweets, where a good post is the only way to get attention? Or is it just a mistake to use Facebook that way and whoever does it is just seeking publicity and exposure as a result of a tragic event?