Online obsession at its worst

It will come as no surprise to anyone how obsessed our society is with online attention. Whether it is Facebook likes or Twitter favourites our generation is all about social media gratification.

It won’t be much of a shock either, to most people that internet users will go to extreme measure to gain online popularity, from strategic hashtags on instagram to spamming comments, many people are desperate to be loved online.
Although the examples above are for the most part harmless and innocent, the idea of gaining attention online can is far more shocking when it becomes somewhat of an addiction.

In the news recently, the most extreme and tragic example of this problem emerged. A twenty seven year old Mother from New York began writing a blog which documented her son’s life. Lacey Spears shared heartbreaking details of the first five years of motherhood, including her sons illness, procedures and operations. As we as social media users are all familiar with, sympathy is often very publicly given online when one posts sad news. Spears began craving the attention and went to desperate measures to keep it. She purposely harmed her child and fed him with salt through a tube until he died from poisoning.

This was not a spur-of-moment action, it was as the judge put it “not a spontaneous or ill conceived solitary act, It was a series of planned and orchestrated acts that really shocked the conscience.” Is this the length our society will go to in order to gain social media affection? The judge summed up her inhumane act by saying “Instead of nurturing and protecting a beautiful child you subjected him to five years of torment and pain.”
Although this story seems like it belongs on an episode of CSI it is unfortunately, a harsh reality. This case is a most extreme example, and as unbelievable as it may be, an innocent five year old boy died for the sake of blog attention.
Gratification and appreciation, is an understandable human desire, but online versions of this should not impact us to the extreme that is does, why is it that we do not feel that our photographs or statuses are worthy unless we reach a certain amount of likes. Again, it makes sense that we want to be noticed online but people must start detaching themselves from the virtual sense of this human desire.

Contrary to popular belief one ‘like’ does not equal one prayer, nor does it equal love, affection or validation. We as a society must begin to realise that the support we gain in our real physical lives from friends and family is what should encourage us and influence our lives, not online impersonal clicks.

Megan Roantree

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