December 16, 2018

This has been a tumultuous year for Pete Davidson. Just 25 years old, Davidson started dating singer Ariana Grande back in June, and by October, they were engaged. The whirlwind romance got more than their share of judgmental social media comments. And then Grande's former boyfriend Mac Miller died, of an apparent overdose. The comments got worse. Obviously, Miller's death was due to his heartbreak over Grande choosing Davidson over him, in the view of people who couldn't possibly know. Ultimately, the relationship couldn't withstand the pressure and Grande and Davidson broke up.

Grande--who took a lot of insensitive and nasty comments after Miller's death--released a pointed single in the aftermath of their break up: "thank u next", which was as much a commentary on the commentariat as it was the relationship.

Davidson had no such outlet. He could make a few jokes on SNL, take some ribbing from his castmates. Davidson has been open about his struggles with mental illness. He was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and admitted to some substance abuse problems in the past (he still uses marijuana to treat his Crohn's Disease, but told Marc Maron on his podcast he's cut back quite a bit).

So maybe it wasn't a big surprise that Davidson posted this on Instagram on Saturday.

Again, remember this is a 25 year old kid who just broke up with a woman he loved enough to want to marry immediately who has been struggling with mental illness. This is an opportunity to reach out with love, understanding and support.

But that's not what social media does, does it?

Davidson deleted the post, no doubt in response to the comments.

I mean, WTF, people? This is not the first time that social media denizens have heartlessly encouraged suicide. Apparently, it's hard for people to remember that there is an actual human being in actual pain with an actual life and actual loved ones and actual value on the other side of those pixels on the screen.

But they are. And this crap is heinous and inhumane. Unfortunately, social media has done nothing but contribute to this toxicity.

If you read the novel "Jurassic Park" (as opposed to the movie), you'd remember that the entire novel was a cautionary tale of not considering the impact of unintended consequences of advancement. As Dr. Ian Malcolm says, "...Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn't stop to think if they should." I think of that often when considering the toxicity of social media, where you yourself are the commodity being sold and your life is open to scrutiny. I'm sure that Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey think that they are offering a net good to their members. But I'm equally unconvinced that either of them has really considered the other, much less positive impacts. No one should be able to urge someone else to commit suicide without severe consequences, even a public figure. For the incredible privilege these platforms afford them, there must be equal responsibility to ensure decency and humanity.

Pete Davidson, by the way, did report for work at SNL Saturday night. This time, we were lucky that the results weren't so tragic.

If you are considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline immediately
at 1-800-273-8255.

Crisis Text 24/7 by texting “START” to 741-741

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