Learning from a Messi suicide

During the last couple of weeks, Indian social media cried over suicide of Anthony Bourdain and gossiped about Bhayyuji Maharaj shooting himself.

Their tragic suicides did remind us, yet again, about the inner melancholy of the rich and famous, but as these men were extremely successful celebrities, their stories have little to offer to most of us who are living our mundane normal lives away from the glory and glamour they enjoyed.

Unfortunately, this week we have another suicide story of a man just like you and me that may have something deep for us to learn from, especially if we juxtapose it with suicides of these celebrities.

A thirty year old accountant from Kerala, a fan of Lionel Messi who himself had never played football, left his home to commit suicide after watching Messi-led Argentina lose 3-0 to Croatia on TV.

As his dead body is now discovered, if this story turns out to be true, we have a strange question at hand.

Why would an average person kill himself just because a celebrity he has only watched on TV loses a game?

The first and foremost realisation that hits us hard from this tragedy is about the delusion-creating power of new media like TV and internet. They seem to impersonate reality to such an extent that they have now become a real part of our lives.

The so-called football fever that has gripped India, a nation currently ranked 97 in FIFA rating with no real football-playing culture, is a completely bogus fabrication successfully built by business houses who have turn football-watching into an emotional frenzy only through intense and well-directed media campaigns.

This suicide proved that emotional button-pressing of these media campaigns have the power to forge a completely baseless and yet strong enough emotional delusion that it can even mislead a person into executing such a tragic act of self-destruction.

But, this emotional delusion created by media is not the real cause of this suicide.

More important is the fact that this young man saw such a little value in his existence that he could sacrifice it for such a trivial reason. It is this phenomenon that needs our serious attention, especially because most of us average people are sailing in the same boat.

Today modern media has captured the attention of humanity to such an extent that it has become a real context of human life. As this media thrives on human stories, celebrities and their lives is the main fodder that it feeds on and regurgitates for us to consume.

The net outcome is, our lives look mundane and meaningless compared to the lives of the rich and famous that we see pouring out of media streams that we are constantly immersed into. It is entirely possible that this phenomenon has a strong psychological impact on an average person living a normal life to evaluate his/her own life to be worthless and meaningless compared to that of a celebrity.

The tragic hero of our suicide tale could throw away his life on finding a defeat of his icon emotionally unbearable (while Messi himself will sleep over without too much trouble in next few days) only because, in his mind, his own life was dwarfed into insignificance against that of larger-than-life image of Messi that he had constructed due to being subjected to constant and well-directed media hype around football and Messi.

It is likely that the tragic suicide of this young man from Kerala will be forgotten as an anomaly, but I prefer to take it as a warning about the future where media business will be creating even more hype around celebrity lives.

While they use celebrities knowing fully well that humans are extremely interested in other humans and their lives, this process has a hidden danger of it providing a completely false context to most people like us living average lives.

There could be more people, if not going to the extreme extent of committing suicide, surely finding their own lives colourless and not worth enjoying. It will be a tragic blow for the society if this malaise spreads, as we can end up having a lot of unhappy people for no real reason.

One way of dampening the damaging power of celebrity flood that we are experiencing is to return to the stories of Anthony Bourdain and Bhayyuji Maharaj, as they tell us the real truth about celebrity lives.

They tell us that one may be a great success, even be a Messi, a Ronaldo or a Virat Kohli, life remains the same. Be it an accountant or a Bollywood star, there is always some rain and some sunshine in every life, and going by the celebrity examples that we see, it is entirely possible that being a celebrity may get him/her more rain than an average person like you and me.

If this reality is communicated to people, they can see that their life is just as valuable as that of anyone on this planet and thus not worth throwing away while comparing it with other more successful people they see on TV and internet.

Let us realise that we all are superstars of our lives. Our worth can’t be decided by comparing it with a mostly fake people created by forces of commerce.

I am happy to admit that I have managed surviving till now with minimum effort as all my intellect has be used to avoid doing anything meaningful. As I needed to while all the free time I generated in course of being lazy, science has been my favorite muse that I have enjoyed company of. As an effort to kill time (in a way, to get even with it) one fine day I decided to write a science column, more for my personal amusement than to attract readers. After getting educated about the attention span of modern readers from my editor, it became more like a challenge to tackle esoteric subjects in 600 words that I have managed to remain interested in for more than a year now. I do not want to add my worldly profile here as these are ideas that need to be considered only on the merits they carry and not as an opinion of a certain human being.

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