The culture of cruelty
Since Robin Williams died, amateur Internet shrinks have been busy diagnosing a person they never met. Some of it has been cruel, perpetrated by people who justify their cruelty as a necessary deterrent to suicide: as if bullying the dead is some kind of public service.
But Robin Williams wasn’t a monster. He had a weakness.
And the dark corners of the web dine on weakness, and draw energy from cruelty, so that sometimes I find myself rooting for the Russian hackers to take it all down.
I appreciate what British comedian and author Stephen Fry had to say about the subject.
He’s probably Britain’s most famous TV personality. He suffers depression. Fry even tried to do the deed as recently as two years ago – as he admitted on a British podcast.
“They may say, ‘How can anybody who has got it all be so stupid as to end it all?’ That’s not the right question. There’s no reason for it. If there were, you could reason someone out of it,” said Fry.
As for why he wouldn’t confide in friends or family, “Think of your very best friend – and supposed you suddenly noticed you had massive, and really disturbing genital wart. Would you show it to your very best friend? No.”
In a CBC broadcast he made this point about public personalities.
“We may all walk big, and those guys who walk along big may be really cocky. They’re deeply scared. We’re all equally uncertain,” said Fry.
Which I think is true, not just of celebrities, but of the anonymous keyboard cowboys who would shoot them down.
In a culture of cruelty, it’s easy to be hard.
Here’s to those who have enough courage to be kind.