A Culture Of Empathy Does More Good Than That Of Judgement

From Tuesday until yesterday,i decided to embark on a internet detox by staying away from the internet for those few days. Part of the reason i did that was because,the one year anniversary of Mac Miller's passing being in a few days and me being a huge fan,i wanted to spend those prior days going through his discography,getting faded and just vibing in his memory.

Looking back at it now,it was one of the best decisions i have ever made for myself this year. Not only was the experience emotionally fulfilling,it also made me appreciate not just Mac's music more than i already did,but life in general. Like i extensively mentioned on this podcast episode,Mac's music has had such a huge impact in my life at different stages so getting to listen to it for a couple of days straight was amazing and made me realize how far i have come from being that low self esteem teen in high school asking himself The Question in 2012 when i first listened to him to now a podcaster,blogger and overall lover of life.

Anyway after that rather fulfilling excursion i had went on,i had to come back online and to the world because the entire world being online nowadays, there are only so many days you can efficiently function whilst being away from the internet without everything eventually crumbling down. The moment i switched on my router i was immediately bombarded with a dozen notifications, from my social media apps to my mail, and i let out that "here we go again" sigh.

Going through all those notifications,it appeared to me that i had missed out on quite a lot of activity over those few day,from the passing of the former president of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe to the arrest of the drug dealer who sold Mac laced pills. Being a Mac fan,i was more interested in latter,choosing to ignore the sensationalistic and fanatical political insults which were being pelted around social media by both the supporters and antagonists of "Uncle Bob".

Reading on about the Mac case,i came across an affidavit which contained text messages between Mac and the drug dealer about the transaction which lead to his death. Although reading the texts was extremely hard,seeing how down a dark path Mac was,what really got to me  was the lack of empathy that most people on Twitter exhibited,some of them going so far as to say he was junkie who deserved what happened to him.

On his book Civilization And Its Discontents,Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud asserts that there are three ways by which humans beings try to deal with pain,these being using powerful deflections to make light of the misery,using substitutions to diminish the misery and finally using intoxicating substances which makes us insensitive to the misery. Most people choose the last coping mechanism because it seems to kill two birds with one stone by numbing the pain and displeasure whilst also causing strong feelings of pleasure.

I imagine Mac was not different from most people and just because he was a talented and famous person does not make him immune from the usual human vices. He has always been honest about his struggles with substance abuse in his music so seeing people shame and make fun of him for eventually losing his battles and succumbing to his own personal demons made me feel really ashamed of my species.

Most of us ,like Mac did,choose to deal with our issues in an unhealthy way. It may not be necessarily resorting to drug use but those other ways like drinking to numb down the pain ,using harmful substitutions and deflecting the hurt in a toxic way like physically and emotionally abusing those around you are still unhealthy ways of coping.

Instead of the conversation centering around which toxic way of dealing with pain and hurt is the lesser devil and shaming celebrities for acting the same way that most people do but in the privacy of their own spaces which is not the case with famous people,the conversation should rather be about how we as a species can ensure that our fellow humans who are hurting,regardless of their social status,do not resort to toxic ways of dealing with that misery.

Instead of using the circumstances of  Mac Miller's death to claim a moral high ground and get a few likes and retweets on social media,we should rather use it to raise more awareness about the dangers of trying to escape our demons instead of facing them head on. Instead of being considered another "celebrity-turned-junkie" tabloid story,it should rather be an inspiration and a nudge for us to do much self care by doing better by ourselves.Mac may have lost his own battles but let us not the honesty and self introspection he did on his music about issues most people are scared to go public about waste away in vain.

I started this post intending to write about my excursion away from the internet and as i went on,i decided to talk more about something that i think should be talked about more in society using Mac's story. We are all humans,we all hurt and have to deal with it. You may not care much about Mac because he was just a celebrity but those closest to you may also be hurting and resorting to unhealthy ways of dealing with it. The only way to allow them to be comfortable enough to express themselves and hence get help is to create an environment where they will be comfortable doing that without feeling like they are being judged.

Getting on the internet and calling a celebrity a junkie and making fun of him in his death consequently makes it hard for your friend,brother,sister or cousin who may be going through the same drug,alcohol or other toxic coping mechanisms to talk to you because you are exhibiting an unempathetic mindset. We should normalize a culture of non judgement and sympathy so as to try tackle the scourge of mental health issues and substance abuse that is currently ravaging all of humanity in  all four corners of the earth.