Robin William’s suicide has left an impression, however brief, on social media. It’s already faded from most of my friend’s posts. I have a few die-hard friends who are still attempting to get the rest of the world to stop stigmatizing mental illness in any form. I wish there were more of them and fewer of the people who are once again posting stupid cat photos.
But William’s death has brought another group back into the spotlight. They’ve always been there, but now I see more posts from them. Be it algorithms or just more frequent posts, this group of people seem to be both asking for and denying attention.
Have you ever seen as post like “well, that was interesting” with no further explanation? Then everyone starts asking what happened, generating comment after comment that eventually leads to the original poster telling the story. That’s vaguebooking.
I had to clean out my friends list not too long ago because a significant number of people were posting “‘I’m done with this life” statuses. These people would post a few days before about how hard life is right now. And about 48 hours later state they’re done. What the heck! And then people start saying call me anytime! I’m here for you! And the poster doesn’t reply, leaving everyone hanging until 48 hours later they post again like nothing ever happened.
These are very different from the “I’m having a bad day” statuses. A bad day status is meant to just ask for a few hugs and kind thoughts. These statuses usually say what’s happening and people respond. Venting is not the same as vaguebooking. You just want to share over a virtual cup of coffee. I get that.
Now back to Mr. Williams and raising awareness about the struggles that accompany mental illness. They are real. Sometimes the demons win. Sometimes you fight with everything you’ve got and they still win. But, you go down fighting. You don’t just casually toss out there that “you’re done” to see what happens. Every person I know who lives with mental illness would tell you they fight every day, even if it’s just to get up and brush their teeth.
If you want to vaguebook, go ahead. Just understand it’s like crying wolf and eventually no one will respond. If you are indeed asking for help, then use the virtual coffeehouse to jump-start your next fight. Because the fight is never over and we all need all the help we can get.