The Rachel Effect
Last year I received a message from a girl I used to work with, we’d kept in touch over the years and enjoyed more than a few wild and wacky alcohol fuelled nights out together. She was beautiful, vivacious and incredibly clever. However, she was also completely scatter brained which was often the subject of a lot of laughter. Everyone who met her loved her within minutes, she was brilliant.
She watched us on the Happy Families Show and saw how hard we were working. She contacted me with a lovely message to tell me that she was proud to call me her friend. It was so typical of her to reach out and spread some happiness but little did I know that it would be one of the last times we would ever speak.
This weekend, our beautiful friend took her own life.
Far be it from me to speculate on the reasons why or to dwell on the circumstances but like everyone else I scoured Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for any sign that she was so unhappy. Was there something that could make sense of this tragedy? All I saw were pictures of a smiling happy face, apparently carefree and living life to the max.
I conduct so much of my work on Facebook and Twitter, answering enquiries and marketing that I often spend a lot of time browsing through happy pictures, reading about perfect relationships and envying your amazing new purchases. What I am not seeing are the people behind the screens. The person who had a stand up row with their boyfriend that morning, the person who cried when they opened another credit card bill and the person who deleted 20 rubbish photographs before they added that ONE picture which made their nose look smaller. We sit and robotically click the ‘like’ buttons but forget what we actually ‘liked’ within seconds because it’s so irrelevant to our own lives.
I’m not asking for anyone to air their dirty laundry in public, quite the opposite. In memory of my friend, I am stepping away from the screen and making more of an effort to interact with my friends face to face. As a society we aren’t talking to each other enough, our way of interaction has changed and it isn’t for the better. All we see is perfection and this is exacerbating feelings of depression and inadequacy. Real life isn’t what you see on Facebook. It what you see when you look into someone’s eyes or listen to their worries over a cup of coffee.
Unlike my happy smiling pictures,I don’t really go out with my friends anymore because I struggle with my confidence. You wouldn’t think this by my social networking but thats the truth behind my screen.
I work alone all day and I am completely isolated from human interaction until the kids come home. I do get lonely, I miss the camaraderie of the 9-5 job but I do love running the website. I am not an unhappy person, I have a good life but like you, I am not perfect – far from it in fact.
In memory of Rachel I am urging you to pick up the phone and make that call. Arrange to meet your friends and get out more, listen to their problems and step away from the screen. Let’s interact more and make more time to do things together.
You never know who needs a friend.
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