Monday, August 11, 2014

Call-Outs

Robin Williams died today, as I'm sure you already know. It looks as though he committed suicide.

This, naturally, led to an outpouring of responses on the Facebooks. Most the responses are sad, some outraged, some poignant. The "best" one I've seen so far is simply:

"...but doctor, I am Pagliacci."

But if there's a best, there's a worst. I've seen a couple of people (just a couple) being really unpleasant about, calling him weak, calling him out for killing himself when he was successful and rich. I have typed and deleted more responses to those posts than I care to mention. In the end, I un-followed someone because I don't want to hear what they have to say.

I do that a lot - the deleting of comments, not the un-following. I type a lot of things that are knee-jerk responses, but I don't really want to say them. Some of them I mean, but I don't want to say publicly, because they would read as unkind or unpleasant or mean.

I don't do that (just) to spare people's feelings. I do it because I am not the yardstick. Everyone has a struggle. Everyone has a perspective. Everybody, as the song says, hurts. And some people act like dicks (there is, at this very moment, a conversation happening on G+ in which someone whose opinion and work I used to respect is kinda going nuts and threatening to sue other people over completely spurious shit), but at the same time, there was a path that they took to get there. I don't want to judge their path. I am not entitled to. Doesn't always stop me, of course (I'm only human, and I'm as entitled as the next white dude), but I do try.

I am not going to pretend I loved all of Williams' work, or that I knew anything about his struggle beyond what I'd read, or that I have anything poignant to say about him or his passing. I will say, however, as someone who grappled with suicidal ideation for a long time, I've heard all of the "what do you have to be depressed over" and "just think positive" and "other people have it worse."

So let me tell you, if you're inclined to say those things: It is not for you to judge. Saying shit like that makes it worse. If you want to help, ask "what can I do to help?" If you want to judge, do it quietly, delete your comments, don't call out. Control your knee jerk response and try and learn something.