When Memes Go Wrong

dear asshole

Hey there.  I know you’re not a frequent reader because I haven’t updated my blog in 2+ years, but guess what, today something hit me so hard that I thought I should share my thoughts.  You may disagree.  You might even agree.  It doesn’t matter.  I’m right about this.  If you disagree, please take a bit longer to examine your thought process.

I’ve selected an image to be attached to this post.  Honestly, I am disturbed that it exists and I had a hard time taking a screenshot of it because all I could think of was that I may also be contributing to the problem I am about to dive further into.

The title of this blog is misleading.  It’s not when memes go wrong, it’s when people go wrong.  I go wrong a lot.  I know it.  Most people know it and I’m not denying it.  So please, don’t take me for a hypocrite.  One thing I do know is that I NEVER joke about mental health.

Chris Cornell.  Chris Cornell died this week.  He left this earth and he left behind groundbreaking music, but he also left behind three children and a wife that he adored.  By all accounts, Chris had everything you and I have probably ever wanted, but he had something else that some of us might deal with day to day, some others might have a family member who fights their illness day-to-day and others may have never experienced depression, a mood disorder or any other type of “mental illness”.

By now, you’ve read a lot.  Here is my point.  If you walk by three people a day, statistically one of those people has had or will have a depressive “episode” in their life.  As a side note, I am using quotation marks when I must use terms that I do not agree with.

Chris Cornell did end his own life.  This is a fact.  Aaron Hernandez (the football player convicted of 1st-degree murder) also killed himself inside his prison cell.  Both of these HUMAN BEINGS had nothing in common with the exception on the Hollywood limelight.

To compare these tragic events in the hopes of a few Facebook Reactions, Twitter RT’s or whatever is completely insensitive and one of the key indicators of why our (the American) society continues to trot along with blinders on our eyes to the real issues we must first address.

In summation:

  1. Please stop using other people’s misfortune to gain a laugh, promote your product or further your own selfish initiatives.
  2. Suicide is NOT an issue of someone taking their own life.  Suicide is the sometimes sudden, but other times prolonged process of brain chemicals causing a person to experience various levels of suicidal thoughts and/or depressive/manic episodes.
  3. People who struggle with a mental health diagnosis are ill.  Some may be ill for a short time, others may battle their illness their entire life.  NO ONE ever makes fun of someone battling cancer, but in less than 48 hours people have created memes about a HUMAN BEING ending their life.  Correction, what I should have said is that a HUMAN BEING’s illness finally became insurmountable and they succumbed to it.

If you’re reading this and you feel like it is an attack on you, it isn’t.  This image and cultural appropriation runs rampant in our society.  It must be stopped.  I am just sharing my thoughts because I fight a struggle myself.  I don’t know what struggle Chris Cornell fought.  For that matter, I don’t know what battle(s) Kurt Cobian, Layne Staley, Bradley Nowell and so many others have fought.  You can read the articles and call it drug addiction, but please know that addiction is a mental health diagnosis and often the after effect of a pre-existing mental health diagnosis and they call is co-morbidity.  Look it up.

Anyhow, please just stop it.  There are a lot of funny and often hilarious things that take place in life.  Unfortunately, there are also very sad and tragic things that take place every day, too.  We know about the more tragic events because of a thing we call, “the news”.

With social media, we can be the NEW news.  We can share the positive.  We can discuss issues and we can also debate.  Unfortunately, we can also make light of serious situations.  We can jest at others misfortune knowing that they may never see it but we may forget that the loved ones left behind may see it.

I know I’ve done my fair share of making light of others misfortunes before and I am confident that if you go back in my FB history you will probably find more than one instance of this immature behavior and I will likely be a hypocrite in someone’s eyes in the future, but for some reason this issue just really hit me hard.

I could write nonsensically all day.  Trust me, I could.  At the end of the day, I am writing this because it’s cathartic and I hope that it will change my future behavior and maybe someone else’s.  For the last 72 hours or so I can’t tell you how many times I have listened and viewed some of Chris Cornell’s YouTube videos.  I am thankful that we all have those to remember him by.

Thanks for reading.

Bryce

In Memoriam of Butch Roth: One of a Kind

21860_1233021705983_1242362164_30588441_8132082_nThirteen years. Thirteen years ago the Roth family lost a patriarch. Dale “Butch” Roth left us after a long battle with illness, but his life ended much how he took on every single day; with a fight.

I wrote briefly on it two weeks ago when it would have been his birthday and last week, the Roth and Link families suffered two more losses. My heart and prayers continue to go out to all of those who still grieve because, it’s been thirteen years for me and I still think about my “gramps”.

I could type a novel about all of my great memories at gram ( Eileen) and gramps house, but I won’t. Instead, I will reflect on a few things that have really stuck with me and continue to drive me today.

1. Gramps understood the vital role of family. Raising eight children in a three bedroom house, he worked his ass off to send all eight of them to St. Mary’s Central Catholic School. If family was important, the only thing that was more important was his faith. Faith and family are two things that keep families together, but even more importantly, they help family members grow in faith and in love. I hope I can set the same example some day.

2. Gramps was funny. Now, humor is relative, but all of the Roth men have the same sense of humor. I think the adjective that best describes it is ridiculous. Regardless, he was always ready with a joke or a funny song and some might say he had his own vocabulary. Some of my cousins have even honored him by naming some of their homebrew beers after his “made up” words. Laughter is a gift and gramps gave of it freely and often.

3. Gramps was a fighter. All of us grand children knew that our grandpa had served in the Navy and some of us knew he won the Most Handsome Sailor award while serving, but I don’t think too many of us knew how he fought a different battle ever single day of his life until after he passed. This is probably one of the things I thought about the most when we lost him. What a guy. To overcome what he did, raise eight amazing children and create such a long lasting legacy is quite a feat and he did a hell of a job.

Lastly, and I don’t think I need a number for this one; Gramps left this world for the next fighting the entire time. Thirteen years ago was a particularly important day for the Roth/Opfer family as my cousins were in the Ohio State Wrestling Finals. One was going for his fourth State Title which had only been done ten times before (I think that’s right) and the other was wrestling immediately after his brother and going for his first.

Now, it was no mystery that gramps was sick because in all of his years, this was the first State Wrestling Tournament he had missed that he had a child or relative competing in. He was there when my uncle made it and he was there when my dad ( Jude Roth ) won it. He was there for Jared Opfer’s first title and he was so sick in 1999 that he couldn’t be there when Jared and Drew Opfer won it together.

Can you imagine it?  Two brothers winning state titles together?  We were extremely proud of Jared and Drew, for many of us, it was like we won the title.  A ton of our family was in Columbus to witness the event and there probably wasn’t a dry eye among any of us after Drew’s hand was raised.  Tears of joy, hugs, pats on the back, years of hard work realized and complete happiness.  Now, if you know anything about the State Wrestling Tournament, once you win in the Finals, you are escorted all over the place for interviews and pictures and award ceremonies and then you finally get to come to see your fans.  When the brothers and their parents made their way to the SMCC section, half of us were crying tears of joy and a handful were huddled together in prayer and shedding tears of grief.

The message traveled through our family, but it was through my aunt Julie, uncle Ed and father who received the news first.  I can’t even imagine the emotional rollercoaster the Opfer’s went through in a 15 minute time period, but I know it couldn’t have been easy.  My sister, mother and I soon learned the news and our tears of joy quickly transformed.

While we were stricken by our grief, but we quickly realized that while something terrible had just occurred, something as equally amazing had also happened.  My grandpa’s official time of death occurred shortly after Drew’s hand was raised as a State Champion of Ohio.  Grandpa Roth went out with a fight.  I won’t pretend to know how he knew that Drew and Jared had both achieved their dreams of winning State Championships together, but what happened that day was more than a coincidence.  Dale “Butch” Roth fought for every second to make sure he was on this earth when that moment happened and now, when I look back thirteen years later, I smile as I type this sentence.

Grandpa, I hope they have WordPress in Heaven, because I want you to know how many people’s lives you touched.  I want you to know how proud I am to bear your namesake.  I want you to know how many other people will read this blog and will feel some of the same things I feel.  You were one of a kind and all of those you left behind were left with an example of what it takes and means to be a man.   You left us with memories and you left us with a blueprint for how to live a life fulfilled.

Thank you.

Your grandson,

Bryce