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Suicide, social networks – power of community?

The underlying reason of this post is a sad one. A young man in his early thirties committed suicide yesterday. His wife and his 8 month old daughter grieve for him. This case is only slightly different then others. He was keeper of the German soccer team Hannover 96 and the designated goal keeper for Germany at the World Championshiop 2010 in South Africa.

You might ask what this story might have to do with technology and you are right asking this question. After logging into one of my social network accounts this morning, I found out that several people had changed their picture to a picture of this guy, using the message function to leave condolences and other words of mourning. The point is, you did not feel alone. There are a lot of other people who feel like you and who you could talk to or just think about what happened with the knowledge that you are not alone with your thoughts. This is not only a phenomena of a well-known person. If the same would happen to someone of your friends (and I hope that no one has to experience that), I think quite the same would happen.

So, I do not want to argue with all the academics who say that the Internet and games such as World of Warcraft are the reasons that the society of today’s youth is dominated by people who feel or actually are lonely. In order to provide another perspective, this case shows in my opinion the opposite. Psychologists argued that people say bad things to each other via Internet because the inhibition threshold of communication via Internet is very low. In this case it might help because people do not want to talk about it with their parents, their teachers or their friends at school. For them it may be easier to ‘chat’ with other friends in order to overcome what happened.

I do not want to say that the Internet is all good and fine but according to the daily news about the bad influence of video games/ the Internet on my generation (which I guess not only happens in Germany), I would like to have more people thinking critical about these issues.

My condolences to Robert Enke’s wife, daughter and his beloved.

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