"Almost everyone is guilty of promoting “fake positivity” by creating unrealistic expectations for others to follow up to. Having an online persona that is completely different from who you truly are isn’t just bad for you, but it’s bad for others." -- Bee Ahlers , 10th Grade
Stephen Boss, or “tWitch”, known for being the So You Think You Can Dance runner up and the DJ for The Ellen Show, unexpectedly died by suicide in early December, leaving many people in complete shock. Passing at only 40 years old, Boss leaves his three kids, Weslie Fowler (14), Maddox Laurel Boss (6), and Zaia Boss (3), and wife behind.
What made this news very sudden and unexpected is how Stephen showed himself online: a happy, loving dad, dancing with his wife and kids for fun. Since he’s known for being a dancer and DJ on kids and family shows, he only posted positive things. Like a lot of people, his posts only highlighted the best parts of himself, leading his followers to believe that he had a perfect life.
Many social media users choose to share only the good parts of their life, making others think they’re perfect. This can be very harmful if negative things aren’t talked about on social media, like how there is a lot of mental health stigma and it increases when it’s either not talked about or if it is talked about, it’s often not taken seriously. If topics like suicide aren’t given enough attention, it may make others feel alone and scared to ask for help. Spreading awareness about harmful behaviors, helping others feel like they’re not alone could prevent a lot of future suicides.
Now, this is not to say that you’re not allowed to post about positive things, but you shouldn’t feel scared to post about negative things, either. Almost everyone is guilty of promoting “fake positivity” by creating unrealistic expectations for others to follow up to. Having an online persona that is completely different from who you truly are isn’t just bad for you, but it’s bad for others. That’s why tWitch’s death was such a shock—he only posted happy things. Who knows if he was in therapy or told his family how he was feeling? The pressure and struggle to keep up a positive online presence is real.
The most important thing we need to do is talk more about these serious topics in order to spread awareness. No more sugar coating our lives online. It can start with things as simple as what Justin Timberlake tweeted the day after tWitch’s death. He says, “It’s heartbreaking to hear that someone who brought so much joy to a room, was hurting so much behind closed doors. I’ve known Twitch for over 20 years through the dance community – he always lit everything up. You just never know what someone is really going through.”