I’ve been watching this series called 13 Reasons. Whats keeping me watching it is probably the fact that everyone else says that I should be watching it, and because they have managed to intertwine so many cliff-hangers into each episode wanting you to watch the next episode/s to find out what happened.
However, I find the show very frustrating to watch. And in those moments of frustration, I sometimes feel bad or guilty for my frustration.
The main character of the show, Hannah Baker, a young “freshman” at a high-school commits suicide. She leaves behind a series of tapes for people “responsible” for her suicide to listen to, in order for them to feel bad about making her commit suicide. It is inferred that their various acts of bullying, infidelity, lying, embarrassment and humiliation are what made her commit suicide.
Each episode introduces a new character, and describes how that character wronged her over the course of the high-school year / s.
With each story, I feel frustrated because her character makes it seem like supposedly trivial high-school shenanigans and experiences that many high-school kids go through, are very bad and makes it justifiable for her to commit suicide. Many kids are victims of bullying at school, many take this very badly and rightly so. However, the stories that she describes are relatively “tame” in comparison to some of the stories that you hear about bullying or that you saw in your high-school. Also, living in a developing country, many kids don’t even have the privilege of being able to go to school, have enough food to not be hungry in school, have competent teachers, parents, good friends, good clothes. These, in my head are real issues that would probably warrant some sort of self-harm rather than fairly tame bullying as depicted in the show. I see people in my day-to-day life go through far greater hardships than anything depicted in this show. Yet, she has committed suicide, and the show wants to you be completely on Hannah Baker’s side, and feel complete empathy towards why she committed suicide and hate the people who wronged her.
I was quite pleased with my synopsis and quite enjoyed watching the show and poking fun at some of the stories, and found enjoyment in my frustration at times. However, it also got me thinking about the relativity of hardships and struggles in peoples worlds.
If all you have ever known and all you have ever seen are the perspectives of people in a developed, middle class society, would it not be normal to be troubled by things that are slightly higher up on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs? Just because someones pain is not at a survival level, or just because, completely objectively the pain isn’t as severe as yours, does not mean that it doesn’t matter as much. I think that most people, especially those that are disadvantaged around us, would love to be in a position to experience that kind of pain, rather than the pain of being able to survive each day. Many people who were once living in abject poverty, and are now privileged middle class or rich, experience new “first world problems” with the same level of intensity that they experienced their existential problems before. First world problems are the type of problems that the entire world are trying to get to. So if you feel that people are taking their “first world problems” too much to heart, perhaps we shouldn’t judge them, because that is the world that they live in, and “first world problems” are probably the problems that all people wish that they had.