In the context of the recent news of a prominent Silicon Valley CEO being “let off too easy” in spite of being found guilty of habitual wife abuse the following post on a leading social media site is of particular interest:
“My name is Yudi and I want to shout out in to the cosmic void that my second marriage is a failure! The question that I am desperately seeking an answer for is whether to go for a divorce or to maintain a delicately balanced facade for the sake of our beautiful children.
Before you jump to any conclusions let me tell you that I am a wife beater and the most recent incident that occurred was so disturbing that my conscience is unwilling to let me and my wife and our families sweep the matter under the thick carpet of everything else that is right in our lives. So this is as sincere a shout out for help as there can be.
But then why am I not turning myself in to the police to do the right thing by the book of law? Why write about this on social media? Ok so there are more than one pressing question. Did I mention that I am a liar too? And a male chauvinist pig and a irresponsible spender and a bad son and a conniving brother and the list goes on.
Where do I go from here?”
Please do note that names and certain details about the post have been changed to maintain privacy.
The intent of this article is not to try and analyze the behaviour of the perpetrators or the psychology of the victims or to dissect the circumstances under which these crimes were committed but rather to understand the role that social media can play in helping to bring about a dialog on the topic. And extending this logic a little further to highlight how different personas choose to use social media so differently yet for the same underlying reason: To express themselves and seek attention either from a narcissistic intent or to genuinely seek help!
Given the courage that it took for Yudi to pour out his guilt on to a social media platform knowing fully well that he could very well be subjected to a lot of trolling not to mention legal action leading to imprisonment it is easy to develop some sort of sympathy for his particular situation. This is especially easy for a person who may not personally know Yudi. But what about the victim? It is clear that the victim is in need for even greater help than Yudi is. It behooves Yudi’s friends and relatives to help the victim, first of all, to find expression for their anguish and then to give them the courage to seek a resolution to the matter. No one should have to put up with physical abuse at the hands of a relative especially a loved one. The TED Talk Our story of rape and reconciliation by Thordis Elva and Tom Stranger is a rather heart wrenching tale of how the victim and the perpetrator were able to reconcile with each other and more importantly with themselves after a long period of self deprecating misery.
So assuming that, in the case of Yudi, social media would facilitate the process of rehabilitation for Yudi and his wife it is interesting to then ponder upon what else is possible? Can we further assume that the awareness raised due to this will reduce the incidents of domestic abuse globally by an order of magnitude? Its easy to see where this is going and at best all we can say is that every drop counts. Therein lies the true crux of what this article is about.
As much as we can all agree that social media is helping raise awareness on a large number of issues and is bringing about real change it would be hard to dispute that the underlying need to express ourselves on social media is leading to a “wash, rinse, and repeat” cycle being repeated over and over fuelling the growth of digital narcissism at an alarming rate. It is in interest of the corporations running the major social media sites and networks to keep this laundromat running at over capacity 24×7. But whats in our best interest? We do all need clean linens everyday but life experiences are a very different matter. As much as we crave for more we should also focus on – not making do with less – but rather on investing in making ours unique. But then what does “unique” even mean today? Thats a topic for another blog! Stay tuned.