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Mental Health and Internet Fame

A Link In Time

Break the Ice!
ZD Legend
I'm sure most people have heard by now, but it's been confirmed that Desmond "Etika" Amofad died recently.


He was struggling with mental health issues for a long time and finally took his own life.

I guess I wanted to briefly discuss how people treat your mental health if you are well known online.

Etika called the police on himself just a few weeks ago and referred to himself as a God. But I saw a lot of people memeing about it and not taking it seriously. I think there were a few good people out there like ReviewTechUSA who made videos telling Etika to get help. But not nearly enough.

I feel like some people take mental health problems less seriously from folks like Etika who streamed for the entertainment of others. I think these people only exacerbated the problem and prevented him from getting any real help. I think I'm sort of just rambling here, but it is hard to accept that someone who did some amazing Smash reactions and was a positive force in the Nintendo community is now gone forever.

What are your thoughts on this news? And how do you think people treat those with Internet fame with mental health problems? Do you think their problems are trivialized? How can response from the general public be improved?
 

Spirit

ZD Legend
Joined
Nov 29, 2011
I knew of him but never watched any of his videos. I've seen clips of him but his content was never the kind I wanted to follow.

I had heard stories that his videos were getting progressively weirder and that he had mental issues. I didn't follow him so I can't speak for his fanbase or the care he recieved from others.

It is a shame for anyone to take their life, especially those who genuinely need help as he seems to have needed.

I'm not sure his fame would have diminished the care he needed. I've felt suicidal in the past and have been stopped half way through and ReviewTechUSA wasn't making videos about me or people suffering in silence who don't have Youtube channels.

Either way it is a shame he took his own life, mental health still needs to be taken more seriously than it is the world over.
 

Deus

~ ZD's Pug Dealer ~
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I don't know who that is but most of us wouldn't have any support from a large public. We would just have our friends or family. Therefore I don't think his being famous would have lessened the help he would have gotten. All his friends and family would still have been there encouraging him to get help if they were worried. Maybe even additional people online spotted his decline and encouraged him too. You already mentioned some people made videos about him trying to get him to seek help.
 
Joined
Nov 7, 2011
The mental struggles of internet celebrities, and traditional celebrities for that matter, are absolutely trivialised. It's easy to say, with the benefit of hindsight to a sad ending like this, that the signs were there and someone must had all the help they could have had. However, people immediately forget examples of celebrities who have gone through exactly the same thing but didn't end the story with suicide.

Kanye West for example. Read any newspaper story about him, any opinion piece on him online, heck ask people in the SB here, and the likely conclusion will be "Yeah, that dude's crazy. Don't want anything to do with him". However, West has gone through events very similar to the youtuber mentioned here. Because he hasn't lost the battle yet people don't give any potential mental health problems he may have any time of day because he's just a cray-cray celeb after all. West has since come out admitting to having bipolar disorder and his wife has spoken about their struggles to deal with his episodes and efforts to learn to live with them. That information, however, rarely reaches the headlines as it's beaten out by "Kanye West Calls Himself God in Latest Interview"

Britney Spears has been through similar life events and it was exactly the same story. "Wow, she shaved her head? What a nutjob!" She was not given public support, West was not given public support, and it doesn't sound like this particular youtuber had it either. Just because a few videos were made speculating about his mental health doesn't mean that was the overall public opinion, in the same way that ScreenRant making a Marvel Theory video about Doctor Strange secretly being a nazi doesn't mean all of the internet is searching for the hidden swastikas.

The problem arises in that this overall public voice reaches the artist. You can bet that Britney Spears had hold of some of those newspapers printing pictures of her newly shiny head. West has absolutely had news of his public perception reach him through the swathes of social media his family is involved in. This doesn't make a person slow down and think "Hey, maybe I am crazy. I should get help." It puts them on the defensive. In their mind, there's nothing wrong with them. "How dare they call me crazy! I'll show them!" And thus the situation escalates from a person quietly struggling with their issues into a public battle with an enemy they don't actually understand or even know how to believe in.

Now imagine taking such a person and dropping them into the seas of youtube comments. The public voice is cynical by default, and now you have schools of pre-pubescents and curmudgeons who are just looking for reasons to insult at the best of times. I'm not familiar with this youtuber, but I can speak with a fair amount of certainty and assume that his situation was no different in this regard.

The internet is the place where mental stability goes to die. It is not a natural part of our life and has become a replacement for the strong proximity-based relationships that we have grown to rely on. The further your reach is online, the more distant those relationship become. Words are empty, words don't cure ailments of any kind. If your only means of coping with these kinds of struggles is text on a screen, and most of that text is memeing internet bullies, you're not going to fair well.
 

A Link In Time

Break the Ice!
ZD Legend
@TheBlueReptile

Thank you for the extremely detailed response. I appreciate it.

I'm not familiar with all of the cases you have presented, but I think in the case of Kanye West, people mock him for his support of President Trump and wave off his mental health issues as a political stunt. It is very disheartening to see people place their personal politics over helping him in his situation.

I agree that YouTube comments are perhaps the worst place to get genuine advice from on the Internet. I think part of it is the nature of the platform. It's difficult to get a meaningful discussion going in a comment section of a highly viewed video. Most top comments, especially in the gaming community, are memes or complaints.

We'll continue to see Internet relationships rise in importance as the years go by. We've become too dependent on our devices and the people we interact with online and have started to diminish the important of real life relationships. Internet friendships have their place, though. And being on an Internet forum, I'm sure we can attest to some friendships that have had a positive impact on our lives.

But it is impossible to have the same impact as a face-to-face conversation through text. That's why I feel my closest Internet friends are those I've voice chatted with often throughout the years as I feel a more human relationship to them. So I think it's important to make a distinction between how one communicates with Internet friends and push people to engage with their Internet friends in ways that more resemble how we would talk to someone in real life.
 

Sheikah_Witch

passionate open autistic european female
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I've been drafting a post for this topic now for a while and it's hard to say what I felt like I wanted to say without it being too personal. But let's just say that I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder 2 years ago and people never notice that, or don't believe me simply due to the fast that I take a bat ton of pills every morning and multiple regular therapy visits to suppress it, simply because I've been very, very lucky. I shiver when I think back to how it felt like when I was unmedicated. The episodes were insane. I did a lot of crazy stupid stuff. I've seen myself in the things Etika went through because for example I also self-destructed my youtube channel during one of my episodes, for example.

Social media has the ability to mess me up like no other thing. Because people just can't connect to me I guess. They see this hyperactive girl writing dumb and occasionally funny stuff and live streaming eating pancakes and whatnot. Even if I do open up or try to explain .. people say on stream to me "why the hell are you crying?" or "eat meat, autism is a disease" or just even "kill yourself". Yes, I'd love to credit people writing "we're here for you sheikah". But still, I think a lot of mean spirited people online just don't SEE each other.
You could see that in the Etika conversations too. When he was spouting those random slurs on twitter a lot of people started hating on him, but I saw exactly a kind of thing I've also done during my episodes. It's so easy to judge and smear an online personality without seeing the actual person behind it. It's infuriating.

The superficiality that plagues most internet interactions makes people unable to see you for who you are and what you feel, they just see your outwards personality and whatever funny beefs they find entertaining. And you could always quit. But what if you could'dnt? That's where I think internet fame comes into the picture. Because you're stuck in the loop, right? Can't get out. That's what people who've experienced it say, at least. The crowd leave and get bored if you take a break, and there's an enormous pressure by being in the public eye all the time. Not to mention it can be addictive too. If you are already struggling with mental health issues, I think it can become very nasty very quick. I'm not saying you shouldn't do it - on the contrary, I think an equally good and great thing is to chase your dreams. But we, the audience, aren't making life better for these personalities if the current online climate don't change.

I wish people could start to see who we truly are behind our usernames, no matter how famous or not. I think it'd help a lot.

this has been quite a hard post to write, but I did my best.
 

Misty

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Well, I'm about to feel like a goblin, but it might be worth saying.

No, I don't believe internet celebrities have their mental illness trivialized. I believe they have cashed in on it and over time trivialized it. They've made it a part of their celebrity and identity. I'm thinking of all the "I screwed up" videos. All the "I kept this private, but actually I have social anxiety" videos. "Actually, I'm gay and tried to kill myself." "I'm exhausted and lost my creative spark." "I'm depressed and struggle with eating disorders". Now, before you say I'm being glib or mean, please note, I'm not coming for the creators. I get it, vloggers are real people too. They have feelings...but also, they've made "having feelings" a commodity which they sell to their audiences for profit.

They are curated and scripted and have ads and sponsors and get mucho bueno views and subscribers. It's not fake, but it's not real either is it? Like, I'm sure they actually have these problems, but who actually scripts their confessions and makes money on them that also wants to be taken seriously?

And you might be thinking "Hol up hol up", they don't make money, they donate it to the trevor project or no more suicide ever UK. But let's be real, those videos gain social capital which gains them viewers and watches and mentions that gets them money down the line. How many times do you see some big name vlogger make trending confessing that they struggle with some problem? And how often does it become a part of their brand?

And all of this doesn't make the problem less real, it just makes them less sincere. It isn't like my best friend coming to me with her anxiety. She ain't getting paid. It isn't a brand move that will soon include t-shirt sales.

Once you've made even your demons a part of your brand identity and earning potential, you're in a hell so deep and so complete that I can think of only one out for you.

And it isn't more audience participation. That's what we call a vicious cycle. Your problem is that you've made your entire life a performance. Even your nightmares are a golden goose from which to harvest eggs.

The out isn't more audience participation or understanding. The out is for you to stop performing The out is for you to seek help from somewhere sincere. Somewhere that won't pay you in any kind of capital. Somewhere that actually loves and cares about you as more than a really fabulous circus act.

And telling them to get help is just feeding the problem more. This is where their friends and family belong. It isn't our place. This is what parasocial relationships do to everyone.
 

Castle

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It's not difficult to trivialize "celebrities" mental health issues when they behave like head cases all the time to make their living.

How can the average person tell, based on headlines alone, that some famous person is flipping out or if they're just acting up again for attention?

The public has been trained and conditioned to be entertained by these antics. We've been desensitized to them, at least where popular icons are concerned. Not to say that the US at least doesn't have a major problem dealing with mental health, but that's a much larger discussion entirely.
 
Joined
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How can the average person tell, based on headlines alone, that some famous person is flipping out or if they're just acting up again for attention?
Although I definitely agree with you that there are many celebrities who capitalise on mental illness in order to further their fame, I also believe there is a fairly simple way of deducing whether their antics of supposed illness are genuine or not. That method being asking the simple question of "are they trying to sell something?"

Celebrities will do whacky stuff all the time. The key difference between wacky for wacky's sake or wacky as a symptom of something more sinister is how they handle it. Is their supposed illness cropping up around the time of an upcoming tour date, are they doing 15 interviews a day about the effects of their illness and are they using their illness as a new platform to speak to people? If yes to any of these questions, it's fairly safe to assume that their illness is a publicity stunt and I wouldn't blame anyone for then dismissing it.

However, other celebrities go through their battle fairly quietly and under the radar. The best example I can think of in this regard is a recent case from the UK. A TV personality duo called Ant and Dec have been running rampant there for years and are practically unparalleled in terms of British TV at the minute. However one of them has been going through a number of personal problems lately. Instead of shouting about it and making a scene he's fought the battle fairly quietly, doing little to know interviews about it and only really hitting the headlines with it when he had a car crash and couldn't avoid the media attention.

Presumably he's over the worst of it now as he took a break from broadcasting but is now back. He isn't making a scene, he isn't constantly speaking up about his struggles, he's just back to work and doing what he's always done.

It's fairly safe to assume in this case that this particular celebrity is experience real problems as he isn't trying to sell his illness.

You will also get a case sometimes when a celebrities illness is trying to be sold to you by the wrong people. Just because you see headlines everywhere about what wacky antics a particular celebrity is up to doesn't mean that celebrity themself is trying to advertise such troubles. The tabloids and news media are varaceous. If you're getting a three page spread of Billy Famealot about stupid stuff he's done over the last two years indicating mental illness, but he has refused to comment and is otherwise completely removed from spreading the word about his illness, then the media platforms themselves are to blame for the attention whoring of the illness, not the celebrity.

All this being said though, why should it even matter if some celebrities are just doing it all for attention? Despite my rules we are never going to be able to categorically determine whether each case is genuine or not. Therefore, is it not more compassionate to enter such situation with a mind of sympathy rather than suspicion? Whether you are suspicious or sympathetic, it costs you nothing so long as you are mindful not to buy whatever the illness is selling. Some celebrities may have experienced genuine mental illness but are naively trying to follow the crowd and doing interviews about it, or trying to speak up about it too much. Would it not breed a healthier culture of response to mental illness if we were to treat such cases with kindness rather than dismiss them all on the basis of "We have know way of knowing if this is genuine or just another case of a celebrity looking for attention"?

Don't get me wrong, trying to appropriate a mental illness for the purposes of increasing your fame is a disgusting thing to do, and celebrities who are outed for this should be raked across the coals career wise. I just prefer to err on the side of caution with regards to these things less our indifference contributes in part toward yet another case of suicide.
 

Castle

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Audiences obviously shouldn't abuse or egg on popular personalities if the person is actually dealing with a problem, but after all what does any of this have to do with us? A person's mental health problems are between them, their doctors and their immediate relations. The general public has bup-all to do with it, so why do we even need to know?

One thing is for certain, however: popular notoriety does have a serious impact on a person's mental health. Being known by that many people, and having each and every one of them reacting to you, paying all different manner of attention to you, gossiping and spreading rumors about you, celebrating you, deriding you, emulating you, threatening you, depriving you of privacy... it's a lot for one person to handle. Only those with experience with being well known or especially hardy mental constitutions can tolerate all that without breaking or letting themselves run rampant with it.

If absolute power corrupts absolutely then the same can be true of popularity.
 
Joined
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One thing is for certain, however: popular notoriety does have a serious impact on a person's mental health. Being known by that many people, and having each and every one of them reacting to you, paying all different manner of attention to you, gossiping and spreading rumors about you, celebrating you, deriding you, emulating you, threatening you, depriving you of privacy... it's a lot for one person to handle. Only those with experience with being well known or especially hardy mental constitutions can tolerate all that without breaking or letting themselves run rampant with it.
I definitely agree with you here. Humans beings simply aren't mentally equipped to deal with such fame. I believe studies have been conducted which indicate we are only really capable of holding 150 friends at a time. Anything beyond and our friendships beging to suffer.


Whilst the method in which this number was extrapolated, I would give it my support insofar as we have a cognitive limit of people we can maintain friendships with. Whether than number is 150 I do not know.

The relevnancy of this to our discussion is that celebrities are thrust into world's in which they are constantly meeting new people, constantly having alliances to make in order to further their career and are subject daily to the opinions, well wishes and criticisms of the general public. We aren't able to deal with such exposure and so many celebrities resort to having assistant and aides to dealing with the majority of fan interactions.

All of this must certainly take a toll on a person's mind and affect their ability to form true friendships within that 150 value. Whilst there will undoubtedly be some who can deal with this better than others, I would wager that most of not all celebrities simply aren't capable of managing such pressure and have to resort to coping mechanisms to function.
 

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