Today it was announced that the YouTuber Etika was found dead. This comes days after he posted a suicide note vlog to his YouTube channel after which he went missing near a Manhattan bridge. Several hours later police discovered some of his personal items in the river, and 48 hours later they found a body which they confirmed to be Etika.
The news of Etika’s passing has been met with the now traditional empty platitudes that accompany any tragedy in the era of social media slacktivism. Accounts post lists of suicide prevention numbers and repeat the dry pre-packaged mantras and farm social media engagement as everyone swarms to be noticed and gain a little more of that social media clout. This is especially bitter as just last week many of these accounts would have been tearing people to shreds for daring to mention that June is Men’s Mental Health Awareness Month, and that should be acknowledged,insisting that anyone that would being up that fact is merely “trying to take away from pride” an attitude that leads to mental health awareness going ignored.
We wade every day through a society that not only stigmatizes and ignores mental health in general but is actively destructive towards men’s mental health issues. The world of social media is overflowing with open misandry, terms like “kill all men”, “virgin”, “neckbeard”, “incel”, “cuck” and more are passed about like candy to ostracize and stigmatize men as a whole, and especially those that fall outside of the societal norms. Men are encouraged to be more open, but the very second any man shows a flaw they are roundly crucified on the alter.
Etika had several serious breakdowns in the previous months, from parasuicidal musings, to getting his own YouTube channel deleted, to multiple suicidal tweets, to the incidents on April 29th and May 1st that led to his being hospitalized for threatening suicide. Every step of the way he was pushed harder and harder by the social media sphere, friends of Etika that were content creators farmed his suffering for social media engagement and clout. Others were either ill-informed or willfully malicious in showing disgust with Etika’s parasuicidal actions and, disregarding their severity by claiming “he’d never go through with it”. Etika’s support system was flimsy at best.
Even as the people inside of Etika’s social media sphere are coming to grips with his passing, they appear to be struggling to find their sincerity as in the world of social media sincerity is dead. I watch the responses waiting to see someone step outside of themselves and do something more than post tweets, and petitions, and stream. I wait to see if it dawns on anyone to do something that is tangibly impactful and completely anonymous and thankless.
Go volunteer at one of those mental health and suicide prevention organizations you copy/paste for a free 6k likes and retweets. Challenge yourselves and your communities to stop engaging in toxicity, next time you see a guy that seems way too emotionally invested in something how about respecting it rather than slapping some degrading label on them and proceeding to make fun of them. Have an honest talk with a friend that you know is going through something. Be there for them, be REAL, be engaged.
Challenge the notion that Pride Month can’t or shouldn’t coexist with Men’s Mental Health Awareness month. Break the cycle of farming social media engagement that drove Etika to his death and take a break from all social media. Don’t click on, like, reply, respond, or otherwise engage with the swell of Etika exploitation in social media. End the call outs, and hot takes, and cancel culture, the muck and mire of social media.
The thing is seemed that Etika wanted most was for his life to have meaning. He never realized that it always did. In a perfect world he wouldn’t have had to die, the best thing we can do to honor him is to end the cycle that drove him to death.