From England comes the disturbing story of a woman who posted on her Facebook page that she had taken pills and was committing suicide. None of her Facebook “friends” who lived nearby did anything to check on her condition, and some of her “friends” chided her. By the time authorities checked on her, some 17 hours later, the woman was dead.
What does it all mean? Well, one person’s story is just that — one person’s story — and it’s important not to draw too many broad conclusions from one incident. This tragedy is reminiscent, however, of the Kitty Genovese incident, which indicated that not all neighbors necessarily will respond in a “neighborly” way. In this instance, we are reminded that Facebook “friends” may not really be friends at all. Real friends would not mock or taunt a friend who was struggling with suicidal thoughts, and real friends would act promptly in response to what seems obviously to have been a desperate plea for help.
People who spend huge amounts of time on Facebook, working to build their roster of friends, need to understand that there is a difference between the real world and the virtual world. Who cares how many phony Facebook “friends” you have, if none of them will lift a finger to help you in a pinch? Perhaps this very sad story will help to get that point across.